Etihad Airways uses artificial intelligence to source ideas from staff

UAE airline works with tech startup to create a platform to help it apply employees’ ideas to address business challenges

UAE airline Etihad Airways is working with a technology startup to create a platform that employees can use to put forward their ideas to help the business.

The platform, being developed with tech startup Swae, is part of Etihad’s efforts to innovate around business challenges. Known as iFikra, it will use artificial intelligence (AI) technology,

Initially being run in a pilot, iFikra enables the airline’s staff to propose ways of solving business challenges or taking new opportunities.

Employees can vote, comment and provide constructive feedback on ideas. The AI will be used to strengthen written ideas from staff and analyse feedback, before escalating the best ideas to the next level.

Tony Douglas, group CEO at Etihad, said there is an abundance of great ideas within the organisation. “No one knows our business better than our employees, so we developed this tool to give them the platform they need to innovate,” he said. “If we are more innovative internally, our guests will have a far more superior experience when they choose Etihad.”

When ideas receive official approval, they will be given funding and support from Etihad’s innovation lab.

In January, the airline launched its AI Academy in partnership with Microsoft. Since then, it has been investing in driving greater adoption of AI across the organisation and supporting innovation.

All Etihad employees have access to an online training programme and instructor-led classes to drive AI literacy across the company.

Speaking at the launch of the AI Academy, Douglas said: “Our people make us who we are. By upskilling them to use technology powered by AI, we are future-proofing our organisation. We believe that human interaction augmented by technology delivers an enhanced experience for our guests which will give us a competitive edge.” 

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