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Malaysia Airlines gets serious about innovation with new in-house lab

Malaysia Airlines today launched its first in-house Innovation Lab, or iSpace, as the airline enters the third phase of its digital transformation, towards becoming the digital airline. The iSpace was created in collaboration with technology partners and academia such as  Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), IBM Bluemix, Amadeus, Telekom Malaysia (TM) and University of Malaya.

The lab is part of Malaysia Airlines’ continued efforts towards digital transformation and a key component to improve the airline’s customer experience and overall operational efficiency. The lab will serve as a testing ground to incorporate multifaceted aspects of the digital experience.  The 8,300 square-foot facility has a capacity to house 100 people.

Malaysia Airlines Berhad CEO, Peter Bellew said the airline’s IT transformation began in March 2016 and is expected to be completed by June 2018.  Malaysia Airlines is currently in the second phase of restructuring and as such, the successful implementation of Information Technology is “key to its success”, Bellew added. This is especially so in improving the airline’s customer experience and overall operational efficiency.  He said:

Currently I’m happy to share that we have almost completed 70% of the overall planned IT transformation.

The company hopes that these innovative solutions will enable efficiencies at critical touch points such as the tracking of special handling passengers, an interactive social media app that offer passengers personalised destination content, as well as an upgrade bidding app which can be used on mobile devices. Bellew added that “these apps have great potential and will add tremendous value to its product offerings”.

The company also hopes to build new business solutions and capabilities to enable digitisation of all core business products and processes.  This is aimed to provide travelers a leaner, more agile experience – from booking tickets to pre-purchasing excess baggage, meals, managing loyalty points and bundled offers to suit their individual needs.

The last phase will establish the platform for continuous innovation and differentiation to shape a new digital airline which includes Hackathons and this innovation space.

Moreover, the iSpace is said to be an “important asset” for the company and a catalyst in nurturing an innovative ecosystem for MAS’ existing and future talent.

“With an agile and modern working environment, I am confident that we will be able attract and nurture both internal and external talent through innovation,” he said, adding that some prototypes developed by the winning teams of the MABHackathon are already incubated in the iSPACE ecosystem.

The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation of Malaysia, YB Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau said, “As Malaysia inches closer towards becoming a high value, knowledge-based economy innovation will continue to be a fundamental element in the country’s development agenda. With innovative solutions, businesses can raise the overall efficiency and productivity, at the same time create differentiation in product and services offered to support the transformation of the entire systems of production, management, and governance.”

By 2020, Malaysia’s tourism board is expecting around 36 million tourist arrivals and as such, there is a growing demand for airlines to provide innovative and customer-centric products and services.

“With the right product offerings, enriched by digitization, I am confident that Malaysia Airlines will be able to facilitate the demands of tech-savvy customers,” the minister said.

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