Q&A: Cloud Analytics Takes Flight

Recently, the SNIA Cloud Storage Technologies Initiative (CSTI) hosted a live webcast “Cloud Analytics Drives Airplanes-as-a-Service” with Ben Howard, CTO of KinectAir. It was a fascinating discussion on how analytics is making this new commercial airline business take off.  Ben has a history of innovation with multiple companies working on new flight technology, analytics, and artificial intelligence. In this session, he provided several insights from his experiences on how analytics can have a significant impact on every business.

In the course of the conversation, we covered several questions, all of which were answered in the webcast. Here’s a preview of the questions along with some brief answers. Take an hour of your time to listen to the entire presentation, we think you’ll enjoy it.

Q: What’s different about capturing data for Machine Learning?

A: There’s a need to ensure that the data you’re capturing is valid data, and that it will contribute to the bottom line. But AI/ML is less rigorous than some other analytics in that it can absorb a broader array of data formats. 

Q: What are you gleaning from all the other data sources KinectAir is using?

A: KinectAir uses a variety of sources for info, including things like weather, other airline’s schedules and flight plans, FAA data, customer preferences, and many other pieces of data.  This allows it to make quick decisions on relocating aircraft to take potential passengers during a weather or mechanical delay by larger airlines. It also allows the company to make intelligent decisions on flight pricing that can make flight options more attractive to customers.

Q: How does predictive analytics impact the business?

A: By focusing on the passenger, and identifying the true origin and destination of each passenger, the airline can adjust for different potential airports as well as traffic and weather info to route the passenger. For example, the passenger can be routed to a regional airport slightly farther away than his or her house to allow the airplane to pick up other passengers, thus making the flight less expensive. Airplanes can also be staged near large airports that typically have weather delays to pick up potential passengers with a flight cancelled.

Q: Explain how KinectAir is using a Monte Carlo model, and how that works.

A: The actual comment was: “So, essentially you’re gambling.”  Ben explained how the company uses all the available information to make an informed bet on what passengers will pay to connect to a specific route. In this way, the company can weigh the odds and find a way to generate a price that will make a sale, but also make a profit. This creates an environment to, “always say yes,” to a customer in a way that works for the customer and the company.

In the course of the discussion, we not only discussed KinectAir, but we also talked about using analytics for other businesses. Ben discussed using visualization to improve farming, how to create an analytics strategy to run 100 miles, and how to listen to what customers want while providing what they actually need.

We hope you enjoy watching this webcast as much as we did making it.

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