The title of this blog post may confuse you. Aren’t I am the one who runs a company that sells airline operations & KPI dashboards? Aren’t I am the one who continuously pushes the importance of real-time information and KPIs?

Absolutely correct. It’s still me, and I am not running through a galloping schizophrenia. But if you have been following the content I put out over the last months, you’ve recognized that I very carefully used the word dashboard. Moreover, I more and more changed the focus to a KPI, information, and especially attention-driven discussion (take a look here)

Indeed, I have no intention to kill the dashboard, and there are places where dashboards —still— make sense. Just think about Operations Control Center, Network Control Center, or any other area where you set up a 1 to n information flow — meaning one information source, centrally available for a broad audience.

My two convictions when it comes to airline operations dashboards

But on the flip side, I’m genuinely convinced about two things. Firstly, I strongly believe that real-time airline performance operations should not be limited to a selected group of persons at your airline. On the contrary, you should aim for the goal to create a superior level of situational awareness and a setup where everybody at your airline takes care of your operational performance and ultimately helps improve it. Secondly, I am pot committed that getting your staff to care about the airline’s operational performance is much more a game of getting the attention than creating perfect KPIs.

Let’s get tactical

So let me break that down for you. In today’s world, we have the enormous opportunity that is given to us by the internet and especially mobiles/smartphones. And I really want you to think about that and understand that:

The mobile internet and smartphone usage enables you to push out relevant (operational) information at a much larger scale to a much larger audience than ever before.

You literally can push out real-time KPIs and additional operational details to anyone at your airline — and make your staff care about it. Executed correctly, it will massively change your operational performance. Why? Because everybody has the ability to care about your operational performance.

So what you really have to do if you want to create awareness for your operational airline performance and improve your most relevant KPIs is pushing out content to employees’ smartphones. Period.

The reality looks different — unfortunately

Now what I see in reality are mainly three types of airlines.

The first one still handles that topic as it is 2005. They keep preparing Excel or Powerpoint reports and keep sending out PDF documents to a limited group of people by email. That approach contains three —for me— so obvious mistakes. (1) Using the wrong tool to (2) transport information to a limited group of people in a way that (3) doesn’t catch their attention.
I really want you to understand that: If you want to improve your airline’s operational performance, this approach won’t help you. So this group literally closes the eyes and ultimately oversee how information is used, and attention is traded today.

The second group of airlines set up solutions that allow employees to access operational information and KPIs on mobiles. Sounds good initially. The problem starts when looking at it a bit more detailed. It usually turns out that these solutions do not meet today’s needs of employees. They are complex to use, not seamlessly integrated, poorly visualized, and so on. Although slightly better than the first group, the result is more or less the same: Nobody pays attention to the information.

And finally, the third group —my favorite one (ironic)— are those airlines that spend a whole bunch of time with defining KPIs and information and completely forget about how to get the attention of their employees.

There’s so much untapped potential beyond airline dashboards

Airlines have to understand the possibilities today’s technology is providing. And I want to get very tactical with that. Airlines have to spend time thinking about how they can utilize these technologies and the contained possibilities.

We are living in an age where attention is the single most important asset.

By setting up mobile apps that gain the attention of your airline’s employees, you will be able to discover an entirely new level of situational awareness and operational performance. It is actually that easy. Set up solutions that get the attention of your employees (and not only of executives), constantly push real-time operations information and KPIs, sit back and witness how your operational performance boosts.

And I am coming back to my initial statement. Dashboards are no longer required in that context. A dashboard neither is the way your employees consume information nor where their attention is — at least for most of your employees. That’s why I think dashboards still will be used in control centers — but except that you have to utilize today’s technology.

The good thing: Once you understand that and start executing, it will bring you a substantial competitive edge — which is far beyond airline dashboards.


Why you love social media and hate your airline KPI dashboard


Q&A Session Part 2 — 9 super-relevant airline dashboard questions


Benjamin is an aviation-enthusiast, a content-maniac, and CEO of Information Design (in this order). His daily business revolves around pioneering solutions with the aim to change the aviation industry. His visions are based on expertise gained in more than 15 years in the industry, and working with renowned airlines such as Lufthansa, Emirates, Air India, Aegean Airlines, Saudia Airlines, S7, Icelandair and many others.