American Airlines is Using Digital Technology to Transform Every Corner of Its Business

Digital transformation is still sending waves through global industry and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The travel and hospitality space is no exception, with amazing new innovations finding their way into almost every corner of the industry.

While it's true that much of this digital transformation is aimed at passengers and their experience — either during the booking process or on the trip itself — technology underpins almost every part of the business, meaning every part of the business is ripe for an overhaul.

This is what American Airlines realized when it decided to digitally transform its human resources and cargo departments, bringing both sectors of its business screaming into the 21st Century.

Human Resources

While American Airlines knows that travelers are searching for exceptional experiences when they travel, it also understands that its own people are at the core of providing them. Without exceptional people working in both the customer-facing and behind the scenes elements of its business, American Airlines knows everything else is for naught.

Following its successful merger with US Airways, American Airlines has embarked on a period of digital and business transformation focused not on the customer, but on employee experiences. With around 13,000 people working for the brand, that's a lot of experiences to focus on.

"We were excited that the merger created the largest airline in the world, but our aspiration is not to be the largest; it's to be the greatest," said Managing Director for HR Shared Services at American Airlines, Mark Mitchell. "We know that everything that we do is matchable by our competition with one exception — you can buy the same plane, you can put on a cool on-board experience, but in the end, our people will be the differentiation and that's where we needed to start and drive forward for the future."

American Airlines is using the same strategy to get to know its employees as many companies use for their customers — by employing cloud-based IT and data. Using this technology, it can build detailed profiles of the sorts of people it has and the ones it still needs to find. The airline can also make sure its employees have all the tools they need to perform their roles well. This way, employees are treated with the same importance as customers and motivated and equipped to drive the business forward.

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"We have to find a way using technology — to make sure that we are differentiating what's important to customers through the technology, so they can do business with us," continued Mitchell. "Customers want to do business with us in a way that's seamless and simplified and feels light ... we have tons of data, we have plenty of data, but the technology is how that data comes to life and delivering it to our employees as well."


American Airlines isn't only responsible for delivering human beings to international locations. It also has a serious role to play in the supply chains of some 30,000 other businesses.

Previously, American Airlines Cargo was managing its operations through over 90 legacy systems which had been gradually built on over the last 40 years. However, the company has recently deployed the iCargo air cargo management platform developed by IBS. The new platform consolidates those outdated systems into a single lean and modern application which has just ten core business applications — streamlining and simplifying almost every aspect of cargo management.

The platform has already been rolled out to 6,200 American Airlines Cargo team members, 2,772 airport agents, and those 30,000 business customers. It has enabled the airline to deliver a more effective set of business tools and a superior customer experience than ever before.

"The incremental next phase of the roll-out will see the introduction of value-adding capabilities including scanner apps, self-service kiosks and mobility enabled functions as well as the introduction of the fully integrated Mail Handling and Mail Revenue Accounting modules that will deliver American further efficiency gains," said American Airlines in a press release. "The implementation has established a platform for a host of innovations and initiatives expected to be implemented in the next 12 months and beyond."

Now, the challenge is to make sure that all employees and stakeholders are trained and ready to make the most of the new management platform. One issue which can arise from such an effective implementation is that things happen too quickly and leave people feeling overwhelmed. American Airlines is feeling positive, however.

"Our investment in the iCargo platform allows us to better take care of our team members and better serve our customers," said American Airlines Cargo President, Rick Elieson. "It also positions us to adapt to industry challenges or changing customer needs as we continue on our modernization journey."

Final Thoughts

By focusing on other elements of its business other than pure customer experience with its digital transformation, American Airlines is finding great new applications for this amazing technology. From human resources to cargo, no corner of the industry is safe.

You can hear American Airlines' Managing Director of Digital Customer Experience, Mariana Fonseca Medina, speak at Digital Travel 2020, taking place in May at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells, CA.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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