Last week, Boeing celebrated a benchmark 100th anniversary of its founding. This week they have announced an agreement with Microsoft to build a cloud-based platform for Boeing's portfolio of commercial aviation analytics tools. The two companies will work together to transition many of Boeing's commercial aviation applications into Microsoft's cloud environment.
Andrew Gendreau, the director of advanced information solutions in Boeing's Digital Aviation division, explained "Boeing is working together with Microsoft to bring innovative operational efficiency solutions to global aviation customers. Boeing brings in their deep subject matter expertise, complimented by Microsoft's deep technical expertise, and together we'll be bringing new, innovative customer solutions to market."
Judson Althoff, executive vice president, Worldwide Commercial Business, Microsoft, said "At Microsoft, we are focused on empowering organisations across industries to advance their digital transformation. Working with Boeing, we can help businesses across aviation to become more adaptive, innovative and intelligence-driven, including airlines, operators, suppliers, support, and service providers."
So what are they doing? Boeing and Microsoft will begin by transitioning Boeing's extensive portfolio of digital solutions to Microsoft Azure. Boeing's applications provide airlines, airplane leasing companies and maintenance suppliers with real-time information to enhance every phase of their operations - including purchasing and leasing airplanes and engines, training and scheduling crews, route planning, managing inventory and maintaining fleets.
Powered by Microsoft Azure and services like Cortana Intelligence and Azure IoT Suite, the collaboration aims to improve commercial aviation by enhancing factors like predictive aircraft maintenance, fuel optimisation, airline systems and the overall cabin passenger experience. Discussing the announcement, Greg Jones, Microsoft's global industry director for travel, says the resulting advanced analytics will assist a new generation of pilots, mechanics, dispatchers and even flight attendants.
Jones and Gendreau very clearly outlined the benefits to all the mutual airline customers of the two companies, "There is a lot of transformation occurring with the explosion of data. Carriers want better access to information, so they can eliminate operating inefficiencies. There is great potential between the connected traveller, the connected airplane and the connected operation, and their interplay." This last sentence is interesting to me as it was something that was being talked about at the turn of this century when the benefits of RFID and other IoT technologies were being discussed. So we have an announcement that looks to create a solution to the issues of analysing big data in an environment that is mobile and very changeable and where speed of decision making (plus the quality of the data) costs money.