Airline operations and Apple seem not to have very much in common — at first sight. Especially, when it comes to key performance indicator (KPI).

However, I think that airline executives can gain a lot from thinking like Apple.

Let’s check out why:

With the iPhone Apple has hugely disrupted the mobile market. Moreover, with the first iPhone back in 2007, Apple set the course for the rise of smartphones.

Introducing the iPhone

Nowadays, the iPhone is much more than a smartphone. The iPhone has become an essential part of many people’s life. Especially, when it comes to tracking functionalities and so-called personal-optimisation apps.

iPhone users can literally track every aspect of their life with the iPhone. Track how many steps they’ve taken, their heart-rate, how many hours they’ve slept if surrounding noises are too loud and so on.

But even more interesting, the iPhone automatically provides insights and advises. Today you burned 10% more calories than on average. Your sleep last night was 25% more recovering compared to the last 3 nights.

Real-time KPIs on iPhone

Two reasons, why people love this kind of data.

First of all, it provides a feeling of control. And everybody loves to be in control. This doesn’t provide a direct benefit — except a comforting feeling to know what is going on.

Secondly, it serves as a source for direct optimization — based on facts.

If my iPhone tells me, that for the third consecutive night my sleep was way to short the last night (although I should know this without an iPhone), it is much more likely I’ll try to go to bed earlier this evening.

And if my iPhone tells me at noon, the number of calories burned a way below average, it is much more likely I take the stairs later the day.

It’s all about Control and Optimization

Summarized, the iPhone and contained functionalities help 1) to get in control and 2) directly leads to optimization measures — conscious and subconscious.

What does that mean for an airline operations executive?

When we transfer these examples to an airline operations executive the question is, why doesn’t he/she have the same possibilities when it comes to the operations?

Shouldn’t they be eager to know everything about their operations in real-time too? And shouldn’t they be alerted in case the number of passengers at noon is way below average? Finally, wouldn’t it be great to have the possibility to have access to their real-time on-time performance on the mobile?

And couldn’t this information directly lead to the same benefits: For example, knowing the OTP isn’t performing well, directly helps to push everything that’s possible to increase the performance today?

Real-time KPIs on Applewatch

Personally, I think the answer is a clear yes. Simply, because having access to real-time data, real-time KPIs and real-time facts, directly lead to the same benefits: 1) be in control and 2) directly drive optimizations at this very moment.

Moreover, I think airline operations executives have to translate habits they already have in their private life directly to their business life — and subsequently, actively request such possibilities.