BI Tool Keeps Independence Air Competitive

In the fiercely competitive travel industry, where airlines must do all they can to stay afloat, one airline has found a way to turn data into dollars. Independence Air captures more than one gigabyte of operational data per day on such things as flight loads, geographical market, price points, booking curves, seasonality, time of day, timeliness, lost baggage and revenue accounting.

The airline has enlisted the aid of QlikView, a business intelligence application from QlikTech, to make sense of all the data it collects. Independence Air realized, according to Stephen Shaffer, director of software systems, that with the right tool, it could turn this data into information to help drive revenue. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” Shaffer quips.

“We had no reporting and/or analytical tools. It was obvious that we were missing revenue opportunities simply because we couldn't analyze our own data,” explains Shaffer, referring to the airline’s need for a business intelligence tool. Before adopting QlikView, the airline’s IT department wrote SQL queries for users, and power users used Microsoft Access and Excel as well as Pivot Tables.

For the airline, the use of QlikView has uncovered hidden opportunities for maximizing revenue. “The primary use so far has been to do deeper analysis of our competitive position in each market,” Shaffer notes, “where are we more expensive, where are we matched, etc. That data allows us to maximize revenue by balancing supply and demand in each market versus system wide,” he adds.

After loading the airline’s complete budget and complete general ledger into QlikView, Independence Air “almost instantly” had a very powerful budget variance tool, Shaffer points out. “It has caused a lot of departments to do a double-take in the last budget variance meetings.”

The airline did encounter some challenges along the way, the most significant of which was the overall adoption of the tool. Getting business units to understand that they actually “own” QlikView is not an easy task, Shaffer acknowledges. In addition, “managing the ‘snowball effect’ where there is an influx of great uses for QlikView and not enough resources to develop is a concern,” he admits.

Shaffer encourages any organization considering adopting a business intelligence tool to ensure that the solution fits the problem and to adequately convey that to the stakeholders. “We could’ve deployed a Cognos or BO [Business Objects], but we don’t have a problem that needs those types of solutions,” he says. “QlikView is a perfect fit into the reporting/analytics problem we are having.”

About the Author

Lana Gates is a freelance writer based in Mesa, Arizona. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].