FROM ENGINEERING TO DATA-DRIVEN INNOVATION
The aerospace sector and if you widen the lens, aviation too, has long been a bastion of innovation. Yet, the digital era brings disruption to even this, skies the limit (forgive the pun) engineering community.
The digital era requires a re-think of the customer journey, as new eco-systems around supply chains and integrated travel emerge.
Brands in the aerospace sector will need to put a new spin on the ‘innovation’ narrative and how customers are engaged. However, owning the ‘innovation’ agenda is becoming a challenge. Here’s why.
Personal vision and data-driven innovation eclipse old school engineering prowess
Firstly, there’s going to be intense competition from China, focused on Comac. The result? Legacy players, like Boeing and Airbus, will have to become more agile, and dial-up innovation, to compete. But, we’ve been here before. Players in telecom and smart infrastructure have faced similar challenges. And their response has been to emphasise their innovation culture, as much as the innovative outputs.
Cult of personalities hijacks the innovation narrative
Here, think Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson. These visionaries and media darlings, with their zealous followers, are capturing the headlines and hacking the innovation narrative.
Venerable brands, like Boeing and Airbus, and the plethora of specialist systems and components companies feeding into the sector, are often faceless. Tech celebrities, like Musk, are envisioning a better future that includes electric cars, hyper-loops and SpaceX, putting satellites in orbit more cost effectively. This makes life tougher for the incumbents, who can look increasingly mercenary and faceless.
Musk’s vision for hyper loop is for a better, more clever way of connecting and travelling. And so, this becomes about how we connect, not just about making planes. With digital driving all modes of transport, smart infrastructure means all aspects of mobility is suddenly an integrated proposition.
Bezos is even talking about putting people on Mars. When your company is bigger than some regional economies, the ambition isn’t so far-fetched. In times past, these aspirations would be the hallowed ground of companies, like Lockheed Martin. No longer.
Focus on intelligent collaborative innovation
Positioning an aerospace business in this emotionally charged and intensely competitive environment requires a focus on not just innovation (because everyone’s staking out that ground, especially these newcomers from the tech-space) now it matters how you innovate, and what it means for the greater good of society. Emphasizing unique ways to collaborate is becoming a mantra. And when thinking about customer engagement, the new focus is experiences, like events and trade shows, that create a sense of community and innovation partnership.
A shift of focus from engineering to data
As aerospace businesses become increasingly digitised across design, testing, manufacturing and maintenance, service models are transformed. Aerospace businesses are fast becoming data businesses, with AI / machine learning accelerating the innovation process. New business models will inevitably mean more automation. More artificial intelligence and a deft use of Big Data. In turn, increased digitization will see the connected consumer demand a direct relationship with many brands, especially in aviation.
Emphasize integrated experiences and narratives
Indeed, in the aviation space data combined with AI will see the narrative evolve from a premium transport silo to an integrated, personalised, travel experience, taking in high-speed trains, planes and (driverless) automobiles.
Creating space for that “appealing and powerful narrative”.
The way the aerospace sector expresses itself, needs to change. Getting the company story and vision across means live events must be challenging and disruptive, and the outputs collaborative, communal and emphasizing the approach to innovation, as much as the innovative output – a collaborative customer journey.
Shelton Fleming specialises in creative live events, with a focus on the customer journey empowering and forging deep B2B relationships. Most of our clients are in businesses where their customers are experts in their field, and seek contractual relationships and sales cycles that span years. Companies like, CSC, GKN, Hitachi Rail, Nokia Networks and NetScout. In common, all their customers are experts seeking a highly personalised, business partnership, and sense of exclusivity. Which is where we excel by harnessing creative technologies that energise the company narrative and collaboration.