Video interview: Singapore Girl won’t turn robotic as SIA embraces technology

A huge change is taking place at 72-year-old Singapore Airlines (SIA), which is refleeting the product, undertaking an organisational restructure and embracing digital in a big way.

In a TTG video interview on the sidelines of ITB Asia, Campbell Wilson, SIA’s senior vice president of sales & marketing, described the transformation as “fundamental”.

Digital initiatives are being rolled out across the business. Giving examples, he said technology is being deployed so that frontline people, whether crew, ground staff or contact centre staff, are equipped to handle “not just people in general but a person in particular”, with full knowledge of what he/she likes and what might be the best solution for the person’s particular interest at the point in time.

“That’s on the customer side. Obviously on the business side, it’s predictive maintenance, so we can ensure aircraft operate efficiently and reliably. From the sales and marketing perspective, it’s to be able to segment the customer base and provide people with a customised offer of product, and price that means something to them, that confers value of the Singapore Airlines product.

“We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars on IT-related CAPEX; we’re employing hundreds of additional IT-related staff. This is a fundamental transformation.”

While the organisation keeps up with contemporary demands and technologies, Wilson said its business model, which has been built on human contact, customer service and intuition, remains.

Transforming a legacy brand like SIA, compared to a LCC like Scoot (where Wilson was CEO before being transferred back to SIA) is “absolutely” harder, he said.

“If you want to do an initiative in a low-cost airline, it takes a month and it’ll cost you US$10,000. If you want to do the same thing at a legacy airline, it’s usually a year and US$1 million.”

Watch the full video to understand the real magnitude of change that is happening at SIA here.

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