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An industry is a group of organisations producing the same principal product/service or more broadly the group of organisations producing products/services that are a close substitute for each other.
In the question provided, we are asked to prepare a detailed report about an innovation made by a reputed organization in an industry. Air travel industry is as a large and growing industry. It facilitates economic growth, international investment, world trade, and tourism and is thus central to the globalization taking place in many other industries. The Air Travel industry has grown by 7% per year in the last decade. Travel for both leisure and business purposes grew strongly worldwide. The changes have been huge in the airlines sector. Emirates Airline is a prominent organization in the Airline sector based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates owned by The Emirates Group.
Thus, through this paper we are about to discuss a new technology, of online check-in, introduced by the Emirates Airlines in the airline industry which has made travelling easier for major parts of passengers using air traffic. Though introduced a while ago, recent changes in the technology has made the system much more user friendly and hassle free.
ONLINE CHECK-IN: THE INNOVATION OF THE EMIRATES
Online check-in was introduced for the first time by the Emirates Airlines in 2005. It is a service that allows the passengers to conveniently attempt check-in formalities from the comfort of their homes or offices by logging on to the website of Emirates Airleines,www.emirates.com.
Since then Emirates airlines has expanded the reach of this service to 67 airports across Middle East, Europe, Indian sub-continent Africa and Australasia, representing 75% of Emirates' rapidly-expanding network. The online check-in is at present available between 24 and 2 hours prior to flight departure, with the time extension.
Emirates was pleased to expand this service and ensure greater flexibility, ease and convenience for their customers. Passengers get a greater control over their travel plans as Online check-in gives allows them to select and check special requests and ensure their preferred seats. It is the gentlest and most convenient way to begin a travel, and the Emirates was confident their customers will welcome this initiative.
The online check-in system is a system which allots seating through online check-in is available to all passengers. The passengers are prompted to enter relevant travel details including passenger name and Skywards number or their booking reference, for checking in online. Thenceforth, an interactive seating plan is available to the passengers and they can select their preferred seats from among those available at the time of check-in. The seat number requested in the booking is automatically allotted to the passenger.
An online receipt is provided with which passengers can move to a consecrated counter at the airport to check-in their baggage easily and conveniently, and exchange the receipt for a boarding pass, on completion of the check-in process. Passengers travelling with only their carryon bags, at Dubai International airport, have the facility to proceed to the Self Check-in kiosks in order to print their conventional boarding pass. Travelers must report at the airport 90 minutes before flight take-off, if checking in baggage and 60 minutes if travelling with hand luggage only. This facility is made available to individuals or groups of up to 9 persons travelling together. Passengers can also check-in online for onward flights, for the journeys that commences on Emirates. (http://www.ameinfo.com/123148.html)
FACTORS THAT TRIGGERED THE INNOVATION
Most of the organizations will cope themselves to the internal and external environmental triggers. The factors that cause the need of the organizational changes may be classified into 2 factors. There are both internal and external factors that have triggered the innovation of online check-in in Emirates. The external factors include activities and technological innovations of competitors, change in legislations, customers' requirement and taste and government policies. It is a planned incremental change as it involves no major changes other than the introduction of a new system that has a commitment to produce a specified outcome. The government, security and regulatory issues; causes the major changes in the competitive landscape; and shifts in consumer travel behavior. The security needs have completely changed flying in various sectors. The Economics of flying in Europe has been altered by the low cost carriers. Rapid growth of airlines in Asia has them struggling to keep up with demand. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest challenges for airline industry worldwide will be whether they can continue to change in time, for the times. The next big wave in automation, and travel technology overall, will focus more on "the people" rather than on "the processes. In future, it will be more about how technology can heighten and improve the travel experience from booking to baggage. Technology will deliver airline customers more "humanized" and an engaging interaction.
The internal factors that triggered the innovation, that includes introduction of a new product and service design introduction, new ideas about how to render services to customers, appointment of a new senior manager etc.(Buchanan D. and Huczynskia.,2004)Emirates introduced this online check-in system to improve the organizational performance in order overcome the bowelless competitors. As the Lewin's model of change suggests, Change within an organization occurs in 3 stages. The first stage is unfreezing. This stage involves the reduction of the forces of change which maintain the behavior in its present form and the recognizing the need for change and improvement to occur. The second stage is movement. It involves the development of new attitudes and implementation of the change. The final stage is termed as refreezing. It involves stabilization of change at the new level and its reinforcement through supporting mechanisms.(Mullins, J., L., 1999)
LEWIN'S CHANGE MODEL IN EMIRATES
The change in the organization can make both positive and negative effect on employee and organizational structure:
Unfreezing stage: The first step of emirates in the change management is to unfreeze present form of behavior as a way of dealing resistance to change. In this stage, organizational change made an effect on individual level. For e.g., in this stage the Emirates airlines, implemented downsizing of work force. This policy was intended to reduce hierarchical level there by giving more liberty to operating people and allow work to be done more easily which in turn improves the organizational performance.
Movement stage: This stage involves making the change to be real by developing tactics and programmes to bring the sight of the top level managers to the bottom line employees throughout the Emirates. Here the organization develops new structures and systems to support this change like integration of staff training.
Refreezing stage: This is the final stage in Lewin's change model. In this stage, the Emirates stabilize changes by establishing new systems that can make behavioral changes in the organization. For e.g., a new performance assessment system based on behavior that would emphasis on the subordinate development and customer service.
ROLE OF MANAGERS
The management level of activities includes redesign and the improvement of recruitment processes and policy for the purpose of increasing the new employees who are able to share organization's latest management styles and value systems. The other activities include special training programmes involving training, active senior management, multi source feedback participation, a linked performance assessment system and a support team.
ROLE OF ORGANIZATION
By the implementation of the online check in system Emirates were changing their corporate culture towards more service oriented and market driven, which made the company to be successful in the airlines industry. To ensure the stability of the change, the top level management used promotion policy for promoting the employees. As there is a change in the way they used to do things the organization tried to accommodate its present culture in order to live in the industry. (http://thanabut.blogspot.com/2007/05/1-introduction-this-report-is-written.html)
TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT IN THE INNOVATION
Business technology evaluation involves collection of structural information, analysis of requirements with the availability of technology options and the cost or the affordability. Before adapting to the new technology Emirates carried out their business technology evaluation, they tried to balance between the business needs and the technology options so as to bring about an optimum result. After implementation of new technology, they monitored whether the technology is paying back. The main benefits that the new technology brought about include:
Improvement of customer satisfaction through fast and easy Passenger Check-In by avoiding long airport queues and delays at check-in desks.
Improvement of terminal operations efficiency through optimal allocation and utilization of airport staff and reduced airport congestion.
Control over the operational costs through the reduction in airport resources and airline staff.
Greater throughput for online check-in compared to agent check-in which thus resulted in improved productivity.
The concept of Innovations comes as businesses have more difficulty in findings ways for differentiation. It's difficult to have a competitive advantage using normal strategies. The alternative is to be more innovative through the use of technology in products, services and processes. To obtain competitive advantage it is important to perform activities better than the rivals. Technologies can be used along the value chain as well as in non price factor competition to obtain these competitive advantages.
Primary service of the airlines industry is transport of goods and services to various destinations. As the customers' needs increased, the entire system becomes more organized and formal. Thus every airline tried to be different from their competitors in a way or other, thus emirates used their new online check in system for the convenience of their customers.
All the airlines industry players have their brand name like '"British Airways", "Jet Airways". All of them have some common services to offer like connecting flights, through check in, tele-check in, food on board and complementary gifts etc.
Thus, Emirates came up with its new technology of online check in, to gain a competitive advantage. The other competitors also tried to gain competitive advantage by using technology in their support activities.
All these added services help the customers to choose upon which airlines they want to travel with. As the competition increased and the customers demanded more the organizations tried to be different from their way of services from that of their competitors by employing these innovations or the new technologies in non price factor competitions.
NON PRICE FACTOR COMPETITIONS
Here, even after the customers' expectations are met; the service providers kept on working on the new methods and the technologies to meet the ever changing customer demands. All the organizations started coming up with new technologies which were convenient for the service users.
Emirates have customized pick up and drop cab services, through a service called the cab service.
BENEFITS OF THE ONLINE CHECK -IN INNOVATION
The online check-in system lets you save time and hassle at the airport by checking in for your Emirates flight online, before arriving at the airport. Online check-in is available twenty-four (24) hours before your flight's scheduled departure time and closes 90 minutes before the scheduled departure for all passengers who have e-Tickets.
If the traveller is traveling with 1 or 2 checked bags per person, they are required to pay the applicable online check-in and checked baggage fee(s) at the time of reserving. Passengers can check- in online and print their boarding passes, through the online check-in service which is available from 15 days before up to 4 hours prior to the scheduled times of flight departure. At the airport, checked baggage is to be taken to the Bag Drop desk in order to be tagged and sent to the aircraft. Bag Drop desks will close strictly 40 minutes before departure. (http://www.ryanair.com/lv/questions/information-regarding-online-check-in-airport-check-in-and-checked-baggage-fees)
THE RESISTANCES FACED BY THE ORGANISATION BY THE IMPLEMENTATION OF NEW TECHNOLOGY
Even with a highly advanced and sophisticated IT system, we can still be prepared for some shooting trouble somewhere. This was what happened in a major airline company when they experienced a glitch in their software system causing delay of flights and a situation where the real manpower had to step in to resolve the issue.
A computer glitch caused widespread delays on a German airline; which forced the passengers to check in with tickets which were handwritten. The spokesman said that the ground crews had to check all luggages manually in order to ensure that the security standards were met. As a result, many of the flights had to face delay in departures and some European flights had to be completely cancelled.
But online check-in was not affected by this massive misfunction that happened during a routine update to the airline's central computer conducted overnight. The company was expecting delays throughout the day although; the computer has since been rebooted. The situation was probably to return to normal only within a few days, which is why the airline recommends the travelers to use its online check-in if at all possible. The company had to suffer a similar check-in system blackout again. As one of Germany's prominent airline, the company operates more than 1,000 flights a day. This shows that, even though we have a well developed system, there need to be a backup plan for such unexpected work ceased. (http://www.thelocal.de/national/20090930-22255.html)
Companies must be able to look forward at the strategy and know how to bring products and services to market in a pace greater than than their competitors. Innovations are not just for the technology, it is for the business strategies as well.
In every industry the technology are not only involved in making product and services better, but all the primary and supporting activities of the firm cheaper, faster, and more co-ordinate. Continuous innovations enable the airlines to differentiate them and build brand loyalty. It also gives an important opportunity for the travelers, to get what they want.
We can expect more innovative ideas in the daily developing airline industry, where every innovations lasts a little while before a more advanced and user friendly system comes into place.