Candice Arnold - 7 May 2019
Today’s complex, digital world relies on computer systems and software and downtime is more than an inconvenience—in many industries, it’s a critical failure that can have a lasting, negative impact on customer experience, the corporate brand and the bottom line.
This is an issue with which the commercial airline industry frequently struggles. Last month a number of airlines were forced to ground their planes due to a computer outage in a critical system. And less than a week prior, another software glitch prevented passengers traveling with multiple airlines from checking in, leading to frustration and travel delays.
These recent outages are nothing new. A quick Twitter search of #AirlineOutage and related hashtags reveals how frequently software glitches occur—and how disgruntled they make travelers. So, what is it about the airline industry that makes it so susceptible to performance problems?
The chief issue is that airlines use archaic software systems that have not been replaced or modernized—and, unlike in other industries, there is no real driver for them to do so. Sectors like banking have been disrupted by mobility and other innovations, requiring that established brands invest in new software in order to maintain their footprint and grow market share.
While it’s possible that IoT may drive much-needed change in the future as systems like baggage logistics and check-in become more automated, what the airline industry needs to solve its problems today is intelligent, continuous testing. Key to this is making testing a strategic business priority and ensuring that website and app performance are topics on the C-Suite’s agenda.
Gone are the days when testing was simply a compliance check-box function. Companies must instead approach testing as a means of ensuring a high-quality customer experience that also delivers business outcomes. Intelligent, continuous testing provides these and other benefits in numerous ways, including:
- Performance and load testing: Whether it’s passengers checking in during peak travel times or pilots requesting take off clearance following widespread delays, surges in usage are par for the course in the airline sector. Continuous testing enables companies to ensure their software and systems can easily accommodate these changes in activity without negatively impacting performance or user experience.
- Testing for emotional outcomes: A harried, exasperated traveler deserves a check-in experience that eases this frustration. However, traditional testing does not account for these and other emotional elements of the user experience. Approaching testing from the user perspective allows companies to make adjustments to their UI as needed to ensure that it produces the right experience—every time, for every customer.
- Website interaction: AI-driven testing also enables companies to continually test how their site or application is interacting with other web content—a crucial element given that airline systems are extremely disparate and unconnected.
The airline sector might receive the bulk of outage related abuse on social media, but it’s far from the only industry where performance is a business-critical imperative. For example, Amazon lost an estimated $100 million in sales due to its 2018 Prime Day outage.