Singapore Airlines strikes the right notes with digital blueprint

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has been on roll lately with a slew of announcements that it hopes will cement its position as a leading carrier amid stiff competition from premium rivals and low-cost carriers alike.

Last week, SIA said it would launch the world’s first blockchain-based airline loyalty digital wallet app that will unlock the value of miles accumulated by customers in its KrisFlyer frequent flyer programme.

When ready, the digital wallet app, which has been tested in a proof-of-concept exercise with KPMG and Microsoft, would enable KrisFlyer members to spend their miles at participating merchants. The app will ride on an SIA-owned private blockchain involving only merchants and partners.

Hailing the digital wallet as ground-breaking, SIA’s CEO Goh Choon Phong said the initiative is a “demonstration of the investment we are making to significantly enhance the digital side of our business for the benefit of our customers”.

Under SIA’s recently unveiled Digital Innovation Blueprint, the airline hopes to become the world’s leading digital airline, supported by partnerships with Singapore’s key research institutions, universities and government agencies.

But more than just spurring digital projects and driving innovation, as most of such blueprints entail, SIA’s digital transformation programme is focused on building an open innovation culture across through staff involvement and supporting employees through digital training, such as in digital innovation and design and agile methodologies.

A digital innovation lab is also being set up to enable staff to work with innovative companies including start-ups, established incubators and accelerators, to stimulate new ideas and facilitate collaboration in a creative environment.

Such efforts are laudable, as digital transformation requires a major shift in employee mindset and organisational culture, which can be difficult to achieve especially for one of the world’s top airlines that has a lot more to lose should things go south.

Whether SIA can truly become the world’s leading digital airline remains to be seen, but one thing is clear – by putting employees at the centre of its digital transformation blueprint, rather than spewing buzzwords like IoT and AI as some others have done, the airline is setting itself up for success.

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