24 February 2009

Simple IBEs Are - Well - Passé

Jim Peters is the CTO for SITA, himself a pioneer having developed one of the earliest IBEs with the Bookit Suite in the mid 1990s which subsequently became part of Datalex, he knows a thing or two about the booking engine process.

I am not sure if I agree with him on his predictions of the end of the conventional IBE. If so then his former company could be in for a hard time since that is their major product line.

“Web 2.0 technologies will transform airline websites into travel planning portals that go far beyond date and location. By making it faster, easier and more cost-effective to provide real-time content from diverse sources, Web 2.0 technologies meet travelers’ demands for greater information and personalization," he said at SITA's 60th anniversary.

Some of the European Union's legislation on privacy might get in the way of this bold vision.

However Jim has a good point, the days of the simplistic Web 1.0 access focused IBEs are clearly reaching the end. The consumer has - as a direct result of their experience with Web 1.0 stuff - become smarter in their purchasing processes. So much the better. But its just not enough.

Someone asked the Professor this week what he thought the real impact of Web 2.0 was? After careful consideration - I am of the opinion that Web 2.0 has been a little over-rated. Ask anyone which is the definitive Web 2.0 travel site and most people will scratch their heads. Trip Advisor? If not them then who?

There is a great book - The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. I still find it hard to believe but the book makes a compelling case about crowd "intelligence". But can this theory be applied to travel and travel purchase processes? My belief is that Web 2.0 has been somewhat over-hyped. However because it is so nebulous that the chances are that whatever comes along now can be construed as Web 2.0 - heck even this blog is Web 2.0.

What is more interesting to me is how you harness the power of this "Wisdom" with expert advice to create a series of guides and assistants that makes wizards really and truly wizards. Smart, intuitive and overall useful yet still letting the user remain in control.

Sadly though - and perhaps this is Jim's point - the technology that exists at the heart of all of these processes remains essentially a GDS like purchasing process. The portals of which Jim refers just cannot be powered by that old clunky GDS model technology. Something newer that is more closely aligned with the Consumer is required. Those systems are few and far between. The challenge to create new systems - truly next generation and not just lipstick on Sarah Palin's proverbial pig - that are actually built around the customer is just too much of an opportunity to miss.

Now that's interesting!

Do you agree?

No comments: