Air Canada—flying high with a connected, global workforce

Air Canada has spent billions of dollars modernizing its fleet, upgrading airport lounges and enhancing the customer experience. This includes offering the latest digital services for customers, such as mobile travel apps, online reservations and check-in and flight status verification. The smart use of technology is instrumental in achieving the company’s goals, including giving its 27,000 employees the latest IT tools to create a new culture of employee collaboration.

“Office 365 collaboration tools help our teams work together,” says Allen Chang, manager of IT Innovation and Technology at Air Canada. “We can bring together pilots, catering, maintenance, airport teams, flight attendants, management and more. The faster we can communicate, the more efficient we are across our entire worldwide operation. It directly impacts customer satisfaction and helps to improve our on-time performance metrics.”

The story of Office 365 at Air Canada reflects the company’s outlook for the 21st century. “Our aim is to be a global champion to connect people around the world,” says Sue Kingsley, director, Employee Communications at Air Canada. “We wanted to create an environment for our employees that was more like our vision of Air Canada—innovative, modern, and creative.”

So today, there is a team of Air Canada employees using Office 365 to collaborate, to share information and to streamline processes, all with the same goal: deliver the best travel experience for customers worldwide. “Our operational teams take advantage of SharePoint to aggregate information into one view instead of having to access multiple systems,” says Chang. “We are also seeing an increase in automation projects that take advantage of SharePoint workflows. We’re in the process of automating our paper-driven forms processes and making them web- and mobile-enabled.”

AirCanada

The Maintenance group works hard to reduce aircraft time on the ground. Now it shares documents with vendors and partners through a SharePoint Online site to collaborate and quickly make decisions to achieve that goal. Flight attendants, ground crews, baggage handlers and pilots share best practices, ask questions and problem solve on-the-fly by accessing Yammer on their mobile phones.

Yammer has also turned into a great forum for management and employee dialog. “It brings the worlds of our operations staff and management together,” says Chang. “Management gets better insight into the challenges and successes of our staff. Yammer posts can be as varied as sharing excitement about a new aircraft, making restaurant recommendations for cities all over the world or congratulating a team that handled a medical emergency.”

Mechanics are using Skype for Business video conferencing from phones and tablets to transmit images of aircraft maintenance back to the office for verification and advice. Pilots will be adding video conferencing to their iPads for use during Wi-Fi connected flights for another mode of ground communications.

This modern, connected and creative workplace environment is the new way of working at Air Canada. It’s a way of working that not only improves productivity but facilitates innovation. “We really value innovation, and we see Office 365 as a way to enable the business to innovate,” says Chang. “We can introduce a tool like SharePoint Online and set up the basics, and pretty soon the business is forcing us to go to the next level and really transform their processes. And look at Delve. Adding new tools through Office 365 with so much potential is incredible.”

But, like everything the airline does, safety comes first. “We have to encourage innovation, but on the other hand I still need to protect the security and safety of the airline,” says Robert Eardley, senior director, Transformation Solutions, IT at Air Canada.

As the only international network carrier in North America to receive a four-star rating from Skytrax, today, Air Canada has yet another tool to maintain its leadership in the industry. “We connect Canada to the world and in order to do that we have to connect with our employees,” concludes Kingsley. “And that’s really what Office 365 has done for us.”

For more on the connected world of Air Canada, read the full case study.