2 page Case Study - Posted 4/30/2013
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Microsoft Services and Windows 8 drive innovation and deliver superlative customer experience for Emirates
Microsoft Services brought to life the Windows 8 and Office 2013 combination on new Samsung devices; leveraging leading-edge technology to deliver an enhanced user experience for Emirates’ customers in Dubai Airport’s new concourse Business-
and First-class lounges. While running the latest technologies, Microsoft Services balanced the challenges of consumer IT; including security and deployment in an expedited timeline with limited budget and resources for Emirates.
”Microsoft enabled us to deliver on our promise; enabling us to deliver innovation to our end-users: our customers. Microsoft facilitated us in creating the best value for that point in time.“
Emirates is one of the most admired and innovative airlines in the world. Based in Dubai, the airline operates over 2,500 flights per week for the world’s most elite travelers, and is a part of The Emirates Group, which has over 60,000 employees. The company
is extremely progressive in regard to taking on new technologies and is proud to be positioned as an innovator in the aviation industry.
In January 2013, Dubai opened the world’s first dedicated Airbus A380-compatiible Concourse at the airport’s International Terminal 3, which was built for the exclusive use of Emirates airline. With the new concourse, Emirates created two floors of brand
new Business- and First-class lounges through which travelers could board the aircraft directly after enjoying complimentary 5-star dining, spa treatments, and more. In December 2012 Emirates saw the opportunity to improve the customer experience further by
incorporating cutting-edge technology in the new lounges. Emirates had already been looking at moving away from XP and recognized that now was the time to take this step, to coincide with the opening of the new concourse.
“We always try to be on the forefront,” said Andre Wyss, Manager IT Production Technologies, Emirates. “When we started talking about Windows 8 with Microsoft, we immediately felt it was a game-changer - something new.”
With this project came several business challenges, including an extremely tight 21-day timeline, a fixed budget, and limited in-house resources and product knowledge.
Emirates engaged Microsoft Services to help implement Windows 8 technology in the lounges through computer kiosks that would be available for passengers to check email, surf the Web, or work on documents for personal or business needs. Several hardware options
were considered - including Apple and Android devices - before selecting the brand new Samsung All-in-One PCs that had a sleek design, a premium look and feel, and could be managed and customized centrally from Dubai. Passengers can use these machines to work
on documents, check email and surf the Web
“As we have lounges across the world and we only have IT staff in Dubai, the importance of being able to manage centrally out of Dubai is very high for us. With every other solution we considered, you don’t really get that enterprise manageability aspect
of it, and are really limited in terms of being able to properly customize the product,” noted Wyss.
As the devices were to be used in a public environment, Microsoft Services had to configure the software to be refreshed and reloaded for every user; creating a consistent experience while providing secure and private sessions for each individual traveler.
Microsoft Services introduced third party software which could be integrated with Windows 8 to provide a seamless user experience, while being managed centrally by Emirates Group IT in Dubai.
As a part of the solution, Microsoft Office 2013 was used to enhance productivity for travelers, while also enabling the touch screen experience through Windows 8.
“The lounge is about innovation, and being at the forefront of the industry,” said Wyss. “There was no doubt that we would go with Office 2013 because of the functionality, look and feel, and the ability to enable touch-sensitivity.”
Microsoft Services delivered a high quality, customer-ready solution in time for the launch of the new concourse lounges, incorporating the latest technology, and ultimately maintaining the best experience for Emirates’ customers.
“Currently, we have deployed 50 units,” said Wyss. “That will increase over time, as the plan is to roll it out worldwide.”
Microsoft Services enabled Emirates Group IT to provide value to the business.
”They enabled us to deliver on our promise; enabling us to deliver innovation to our end-users, our customers. Microsoft enabled us to create the best value for that point in time,” commented Wyss.
Leveraged previous investments to add incremental ROI
Emirates has worked with Microsoft Services on several projects in the past; most recently partnering with them to deploy an in-flight mobile application called Knowledge-driven In-flight Solution (KIS) that enhanced the customer experience through improved
crew management. For the KIS project, Microsoft developed a solution that was reliable, secure, and met all internal requirements while leveraging Emirates’ existing applications for use on Windows 8. With that base, as they took on the next project, the Microsoft
Services team was then able to customize the solution and add on the building blocks to create the lounge kiosks within the short timeline.
“If Microsoft hadn’t done such a great job building the initial base that was flexible enough for future iterations, we would have had to spend much more time on the lounge project than we actually did,” said Wyss.
In addition, while leveraging the investment made on the KIS project for the additional work needed for the new lounge kiosks, Microsoft Services ultimately enabled Emirates to realize a stronger Return on Investment (ROI) from the KIS solution.
Improved customer experience, increasing loyalty and customer retention
With Emirates, the customer experience begins when a passenger is picked up from their doorstep and ends when they are chauffeur-driven to their final destination. During the entire customer journey, Emirates is leveraging Windows 8 technology to offer a
truly unique experience - from the kiosks, to the unparalleled in-flight service facilitated by the KIS solution. The Business- and First-class lounges are key components of the service and ensuring the pre-flight experience matches the in-flight experience
is very important to Emirates. With the innovation support from Microsoft Services, Emirates could maintain outstanding customer service and deliver an amazing experience on the ground.
“The new devices in the lounges certainly drive to a better customer experience,” said Wyss. “We exceed customer expectations and that then immediately delivers increased loyalty and customer retention.”
Delivered solution within extremely tight timeline and budget
Emirates had a very short time frame, from December 2012 to January 2013, within which the new technology needed to be developed from scratch and implemented in the new concourse lounges. Wyss accredited the business benefit of going live with the new devices
in time for the opening of the concourse wholly to Microsoft Services: “ramping up my people in a very short time with the same cost; I would never have been able to do that with anyone else.” Adding that the Microsoft team worked diligently over the Christmas
and New Year’s holidays, often 12–13 hour days, in order to meet the tight time constraint. Microsoft Services also completed full QA and testing within the timeframe to ensure high-quality delivery and performance.
In addition, Microsoft Services was able to deliver the solution on budget, with no change orders or cost overages.
Significant knowledge transfer to in-house IT, increasing ROI and reducing costs
Over the course of the project, the Microsoft Services team shared best practices and transferred knowledge to Emirates’ IT staff; giving them the ability to effectively maintain and optimize the software for future iterations of the product.
“The engagement was not only doing the work, but scaling up our team to be able to manage it in the future. That was one of our clear objectives,” said Wyss. Noting that Emirates Group IT not only has the airline as a customer, but other Group companies
that can leverage the solution for a higher return on investment, Wyss adds, “now we can take this solution, customize it for any other entity within the Emirates Group, and reuse it within a very short time.,”
Emirates ultimately reduced the cost of implementation and future customization and management of devices running Windows 8. The company has initially implemented 50 kiosks and plans to scale the solution to Emirates lounges globally.
Trust in Microsoft Services expertise to deliver and support
Emirates benefited from engaging with Microsoft Services who delivered a very smooth and seamless project execution, from beginning to end.
Wyss described Microsoft Services as a partner, rather than a vendor, noting, “if ever there was a problem, I have confidence in Microsoft and know that I can go to them at any time for the support I need. That is very important to us and that is why we
value the partnership with Microsoft and Microsoft Consulting Services.”
Emirate also benefited from the expertise brought by Microsoft consultants who work with customers in various industries around the world.
“That experience and exposure to other organizations helps drive best practices. Having learned what works and what doesn’t work with other companies, Microsoft Services was able to help us speed up our whole implementation and integration,” said Wyss.
Wyss’ only advice is to engage with Microsoft Services as early as possible. “Don’t do your whole design and everything yourself and then try to hand it over, because the value add is from being engaged early on. You will save time in the end, because you
made sure it was integrated and the best practices are applied from the beginning.”