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IT Governance

IT Governance

Introduction

Emirates Airline is the largest airline company in the Middle East and is headquartered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Emirates Airline is a subsidiary of The Emirates Group, an international holding that is based In Dubai. The Emirates Group is a fully owned governmental corporation. The airline was founded in 1985 with the backing from the Dubai royal family. Apart from the initial capital of $10 million, the airline was expected to operate without any governmental subsidies. According to The International and Government Affairs Journal of Emirates, the airline does over 3300 flights every week to over 148 cities across six continents making it the largest airline in the Middle East. It is the world’s largest international carrier (The Economist 2015). The Emirates Group includes Dnata, an aviation services company. Mercator is the IT arm of Dnata (Naef 2014a).

The Emirates’ Vision

The Emirates vision is to make the Emirates Group an environmental leader in the aviation and travel industries.

The Emirates’ Goal

The airline’s goal is to make sustainability and eco-efficiency the cornerstones of all group’s operations both in the air and on the ground.

The Emirates’ Mission

The airline’s mission is to become an ecologically-efficient organization to achieve benefits for its customers, environment and businesses.

The Emirates Group’s Employment and Governance

The airline’s employment and governance structure is centralized and divided into two tiers (The Emirates Group 2009). The top level management consists of the director general and its subsequent departments, and the second level of management comprises of six departments: Air navigation service provider, Safety Affairs, Security Affairs, Strategy and International affairs, support services and commercial services (See appendix 1). The IT department and customer services fall under the support services section (Naef 2014b). Gary Chapman is the head of the Group services and Dnata at the Emirates Group. What about customer services, the Emirates Airlines were voted fourth best in onboard catering services in business class, and also second best in the same category in the economy class (The Emirates Group 2015). All these goals would not have been achieved without the cutting edge IT solutions provided by the Emirates Group (Ashidiqy 2014).

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Information System Department Structure (Roles, Divisions, Processes, and Governance)

The Emirates Group’s IT department (EG-IT) of the Emirates Airline is located at the airlines’ head office. The head office is in the Emirates Group building in A-Garhound in Dubai. It is responsible for the provision of aviation-related IT solution and services to the Emirates Airlines and Dnata (Naef 2014a). It is the largest operation of his kind in the Middle East employing over 2000 people. The Emirates Group’s IT supports all other departments of the airline.

The Emirates Group IT’s (EG-IT) mission is:

  • To nurture potential and leverage high performance;
  • To co-create the business strategy through knowledge and technology;
  • To deliver the best quality and timely IT solutions and services;
  • To differentiate through innovation and drive competitive advantage;
  • To maximize benefits for the Emirates Group from Mercator business.

The Emirates Group’s (IT) roles as stipulated in their IT strategy of 2013 are:

  • Being a business enabler, which includes providing IT solutions that are fully integrated with the business of the airline, adding value and exceeding customers’ expectations;
  • To be a technology futurist by providing world-class IT solutions and be a step ahead of the competition;
  • Be an IT solutions and services provider;
  • Foster partnerships for the greater success of the airline.

Divisions

The department has two sub-divisions: Human Resources and Finance, which are further divided into five (see appendix 4): Business Technology Solutions, Service Management, Software Engineering, Infrastructure Management and Strategic services. These divisions are dedicated to supporting the airlines’ business and providing IT solutions to other departments.

The IT department as a provider of solutions and customer services delivers support in the following areas: cargo, airport, engineering and flight operations, passenger services and passenger experience, group services, leisure, commercial, planning, and, lastly, customer service support.

Emirates Airline’s Customer Services

Emirates Airline, together with its seven subsidiaries, offer catering services, retail services, tour organization and events management services, travel services, cargo services, freight forwarding and logistics, loyalty programs and a 24 hour call center services. All these services are fully supported by the IT department to ensure constant support for the customers.

Functional AreaBusiness process
Call centerData sharing;

Booking and making reservations;

Cancellation and rescheduling of flights;

Information about delays or irregularities.

Information sharingDisclose travel itinerary and cancellation policies;

Disclose frequent flyer rules and the configuration of the aircraft (Emirates n.d.).

Online support for customersOnline booking;

Making inquiries;

Responding to inquires;

Payment for tickets;

Requests for refunds;

Cancellation of bookings;

Data sharing.

Staff developmentBasic processes training;

Security handling and training;

Emergency and evacuation procedures

training and handling;

Manual handling;

Using public address systems.

On-site service deliveryWelcoming passengers at check points and other customer service delivery points to smoothen the passenger’s experience;

Solve issues that affect the customers’ business experience;

Assist passengers during irregularities in flights and coordinate the communication;

Conduct service recovery measures when necessary to smoothen customer experience;

Work in conjunction with the call center team to deliver satisfactory experience to the customers.

Front desk and receptionInspect passengers’ luggage as well as check in the passengers using support manual and IT systems while observing procedures and adhering to airline’s requirements as well as complying with bodies such as IATA;

Prepare documentation in line with all regulatory requirements;

Promptly deal with irregularity reports;

Compiling and dispatching relevant documentation as required by the airline or operators;

Ensure compliance with all safety.

Provide support to all passengers by the highest standards possible in the event of cancellations, delays or diversion of flights;

Ticketing services.

All these functional areas of customer service departments require proper coordination with other functional departments of the airline. For instance, security checks have to be done in conjunction with the security department; hiring and development of staff has to be done in accordance with the human resource department; booking, ticketing and refunding has to be done in conjunction with the finance department, etc.

Such interrelation makes all departments highly connected through the IT governance structure. All requests from either department have to through the IT department to be rerouted to the target department. For instance, customer service department request for additional staff to be sent through the IS structure, such as e-mail, to the human resource department. Security check requests have to be routed to the IT department before being routed to any other external department, such as the Interpol.

The IT systems support the enhancement of various customer service delivery initiatives. For instance, the IT department ensures that the systems used to check in the passengers are working and provides technical support to other employees operating the systems. The department also ensures that the security systems are optimally working, since the security at airports is paramount. They ensure that the screening devices, passenger verification systems, and the cameras are working properly.

It is the IT department that also supports in-flight entertainment systems as well as information and communication. This is an interesting innovation for customer satisfaction originating from the ingenuity of the engineers at the EG-IT. It became the first airline to introduce a personal entertainment system on commercial aircrafts. This innovation has made it win the Skytrax Award for best in-flight entertainment consecutively since the awards conception in 2003 (The Emirates Group 2015). With ICE (information communication entertainment), passengers have a direct link to BBC News.  The ICE also comes with movies, games, music and pre-recorded television channels. These channels can be accessed in over 30 languages, including English, Japanese, Arabic, Korean, and German. The service is available to all three classes. The content is organized and updated by the IT department to ensure that the services are world class.

The cargo system is yet another sphere where the influence of IT is noticeable. Cargo services are handled by the Emirates Sky Cargo, which is the air freight division of the airline. It operates in 10 exclusive destinations and has other affiliates of the Emirates network. Dnata Services also handle cargo at the airport. Dnata is the largest company handling passengers at the Dubai International Airport. Along with Dnata, there is Mercator, which is the IT department of Dnata that is still under the Emirates Group’s IT. The IT department offers tracking services to ensure that the customers’ luggage is safe and secure.

The Centralized Information Systems Governance

The Emirates Airline’s centralized information governance structure is in line with its centralized organizational structure (see appendix 3). It is the best structure for this organization, since it facilitates effective dissemination of IT services to all departments. In addition, there are several advantages that come with having a centralized information system. Among them are the sharing of resources and storing of the organizational information in a central location, which make it easily accessible for the system’s improvement. It eliminates duplication and reduces inconstancies, wastage of efforts and storage capacity, since information is only stored once. There is also improved control characterized by reduced costs, better security, stability, reliability and aces to upgrades. Finally, centralized governance results in the economies of scale.

Conclusion

Information technology has become a critical ingredient in the running of airlines and customer service delivery (see appendix 2). Emirates Airline is one of the major airlines in the world. It offers world class services to its customers and rewards loyal clients. The adoption of IT has helped it improve service delivery. Emirate Airline has centralized IT governance, which ensures that the IT systems are shared by all department and thus facilitates collaboration among various departments.