In brief

In brief

  • Airline leaders are making technology investments to drive growth, but those investments also impact their greatest asset—people.
  • People can truly differentiate an airline and help maximize its technology investments.
  • Accenture estimates companies that embrace AI and other digital technologies will see a 38 percent revenue boost, higher profitability and employment.
  • Enabling a digital workforce demands a shift in organization’s culture and structure. Treating your workforce as consumers is the future of HR.

Becoming digital

Clearly, the digital workforce revolution for airlines has arrived. Four in five travel executives believe artificial intelligence (AI) will work next to humans in their organization, as a coworker, collaborator and trusted advisor within the next two years.1 We estimate that companies embracing AI and other digital technologies will see a 38 percent revenue boost in the next five years, along with higher levels of profitability and employment.2

Yet airline leaders struggle to understand how technology investments impact their people. People are what can truly differentiate airlines and ensure technology investments are fully leveraged.

Developing the strategy to support the digital workforce will help ensure airlines get the most from their digital investments, and give them a strong and lasting competitive advantage.

Three ways airlines can do more with digital

Airline leaders can build a fit-for-the future workforce by:

Creating an engaging digital experience for your workforce

To get the most out of your digital investment choices, create a differentiated experience and define the “moments that matter” the most for your workforce.

Reskilling your workforce to leverage digital

Educate leaders and allow them to lead your broader workforce reskilling effort. Use e-learning platforms and virtual training.

Defining an organizational structure ready for the future

Most airlines have made changes to be more customer-centric. Now, look at how the organizational structure can support the digital transformation.

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Accenture estimates companies embracing AI and other digital technologies will see a 38 percent revenue boost in the next five years.

Deliver moments that matter to your workforce

The first step in delivering differentiated employee experiences that attract, develop, engage and retain top talent in a digital airline is to define which HR service interactions matter the most for your workforce.

Moments that matter shape your employee’s view of the company and influence how they contribute. Having a clear view of the moments that matter—from the employee’s interview through retirement–will help to shape your decisions about how to invest in the employee experience.

Reskilling is essential to workforce transformation

Preparing your workforce to succeed as a digital airline starts with giving leadership the tools and skills they need to lead. These new skills include managing horizontally, not vertically; demonstrating intellectual curiosity; and going beyond “measurement and management” to inspire creativity and innovative thinking.3 Enabling a digital workforce also demands a cultural shift, requiring new behaviors and skills to adapt to dynamic processes.

Unions and Collective Bargaining Agreement considerations in the reskilling process

Getting union buy-in and support will be crucial to workforce transformation. For instance, digital initiatives—especially if those initiatives lead to a leaner workforce and/or support organization. In some cases, work rules will need to be renegotiated to accommodate new ways of working in the digital new.

Generational differences

Leaders must determine how to best meet the needs of employees young and old. As baby boomers retire and Gen Z enters the workforce, there is a greater need to understand their individual motivations, training needs and most effective delivery method. Younger workers already possess most digital skills—they grew up developing them. They demand proficient, intuitive technology for their job and get easily frustrated by outdated legacy systems that impede them in doing their job.

Defining the right structure for success

Shifting focus to the customer experience requires a more connected organization, from both an operational and technological perspective. Airlines should use advanced data analytics and information sharing to become more customer-centric. Some functions may need to change in light of automation and robotics. The structure must accommodate these shifts in how work is shared among human and machine.

The airline organizational structure of the future

The airline organizational structure of the future will be more customer-centric, but also technologyand employee-centric. Each airline’s future structure will be different based on its unique business model, but it’s certain that entire functional areas will eventually disappear with the advent of digital technology.

Equip your organization to take off

Successful airline executives will understand the current digital state of the workforce and have a clear vision for future transformation. The airline’s leadership team must fully support the digital workforce―for they will be the ones leading the change.

1 Accenture Technology Vision 2018

2 Accenture Reworking the Revolution

3 Accenture Harnessing Revolution

Kathy Bonneville

Managing Director

Jasper Schrijver

Principal Director

Lukas Rudari



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