Industry challenger Alaska Airlines takes service to new heights  

Today’s post was written by Veresh Sita, chief information officer at Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines CIOIn today’s age of instant gratification, air travel is all about enabling travelers to discover new avenues while offering memorable customer experiences. At Alaska Airlines, we have made a pledge to provide hassle-free air travel to our growing customer base.

Our industry is undergoing constant change, affected by the overall economy, the emerging preferences of the newest generation of travelers, and the crucial role of technology and information services. Alaska Airlines has a small but growing market share, which makes us a challenger brand that can innovate more quickly than the legacy carriers. We’re transforming ourselves—starting with our internal operations and communications—with the goal of delivering travel experiences that reflect just how much we care about our customers and employees. Microsoft Office 365 is critical to this transformation and we put in a lot of effort to build an effective deployment plan for the entire company.

After giving our legacy systems an honest look, we realized that they could not scale to or meet modern-day digital requirements. In moving to the cloud, we wanted to boost productivity, drive collaboration, and provide easy access to data and insights. Our goal was straightforward: allow our people to access everything from anywhere.

Alaska Airlines is many businesses within a business. As such, we house everyone from fuel and aviation industries to food and entertainment partners. By using Office 365 to fundamentally change the way we connect, collaborate and find information, we’re able to identify and act quickly on opportunities to improve our customers’ travel experiences. For example, we’re working toward the ability to quickly connect flight crews with employees on the ground to help turn planes faster, giving us the opportunity to operate more flights and assure that our customers arrive safely and on time. These operations are of crucial importance to our customers, and Office 365 enhances our ability to achieve higher standards.

In addition to providing a great customer experience, Alaska Airlines also deeply cares about its employees and wants to give them the best solutions to be effective in their jobs. With Office 365, we are providing the modern capabilities that our workforce needs and expects. We are gradually shifting from highly manual workflows to a more digital work environment with a secure, robust infrastructure and higher data fidelity. By making the most of the social aspects of Office 365, we avoid reinventing the wheel, and we can easily tap into our vast information base of both documents and employee knowledge to quickly answer questions, troubleshoot issues and improve service.

We had a few choices when it came to the cloud, but Office 365 made the most sense for us. For one thing, with Office 365 we were buying a platform, not just solving for email or some other aspect of our communication and collaboration needs. We realized that we’d have an entire ecosystem at our disposal, from basics like email to more sophisticated capabilities like team collaboration and document sharing with partners and vendors. Perhaps most important, we recognized that Office 365 is easy to use and would be most familiar to our community. After all, we were already making a pretty large change, so the less intimidating the new cloud-based environment was for employees, the better.

I see Alaska Airlines as an 82-year-old, $6 billion startup focused on changing the airline industry. This foray into the Microsoft cloud is a major step in the right direction and Office 365 is keeping us on the right track to becoming the easiest airline to fly.