IT Headaches for Continental and United Airlines

The merger of United and Continental Airlines - soon to be known as United Airlines - will give the new company control of around seven per cent of routes worldwide and a fifth of all US flights.

The merger of United and Continental Airlines - soon to be known as United Airlines - will give the new company control of around seven per cent of routes worldwide and a fifth of all US flights. But, it may well be a bumpy ride for the company as it tries to merge systems responsible for everything from ticket reservations to airport parking, whilst maintaining impeccable customer service.

In any situation when two institutions merge, the integration of unrelated IT systems presents a major roadblock to expected efficiency improvements. Nowhere is this more evident than in customer facing departments that are still tasked with delivering high SLAs. Take airline contact centres for instance; mixing together legacy systems from two different companies can be a major logistical headache for an agent with a customer sitting on the end of a phone line.

In these situations, companies need to be able to quickly and simply combine their different systems - both in the cloud and on-premise - into a single, virtual desktop that makes it easy for employees to access and use a multitude of applications. When answering customer's calls, this means allowing an agent to quickly tap into the different bits of CRM, billing and email management systems they need, through one interface.

Merging companies need to be able to carry out short burst projects focused on streamlining front line processes and extracting or re-combining critical system components. The issue is that traditional systems make such goals extremely user-unfriendly, requiring extensive programming knowledge, time and money to arrange.

By comparison, the new wave of Enterprise Mashups technology is giving companies like United Airlines a simpler solution by learning from the prolific use of mashups in the consumer world. Just as those examples bring information from various sources together in a new interface, merging companies can follow the same dynamic to produce vital and personalised work tools.

What often threatens to be a period of painful teething trouble can instead become an opportunity to emerge with the best systems and processes that each business can bring to the table.

Eric Guilloteau is CEO and founder of Corizon

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