Data scientists, propensity engines and super-personalisation

OpenJaw Technology has moved its t-Retail platform to Amazon AWS and introduced a range of new features including a booking engine and a marketing tool, all with a China focus.

CEO Kieran Branagan launched the new “t-Retail Cloud” at its travel summit in Dublin this week. He  said the move would help airlines “unshackle themselves from inflexible vendors” and that the software-as-a-service model would open up its products to mid-tier airlines.

Its API-first approach in developing the components and new features also means that it can bring airlines onto the platform more quickly now that it is on AWS.

And another key part of its thinking is focusing developments on China. In a session at the summit which highlighted the role of its Project X innovation team, OpenJaw’s co-founder Sean Mac Roibeaird said “If it doesn’t work in China, it doesn’t work.”

Chief technology officer Brian Lewis explained that the “re-platforming” of t-Retail was basically to make sure that everything on offer worked for Chinese customers but could also be adapted, where appropriate, for the international market.

“An example of this is the level of self-service, on mobile devices and social channels, that Chinese travellers expect to be able to do once they’ve booked their seat. Not all international airlines need this, but we build it so that it is available if asked for.”

OpenJaw was bought by Travelsky a year ago and has been expanding its business in China, building on its relationship with airlines such as Hainan which predated the Travelsky acquisition.

At the summit Openjaw confirmed three new Chinese airline customers: Shenzhen Airlines, currently carrying 25 million passenger a year to 74 destinations across Asia; Sichuan Airlines, carrying 20 million domestic passengers a year; and low-cost scheduled and charter operator China United Airlines.

Hong Kong Airlines – six million passengers a year – has also signed up.

OpenJaw is also creating a new Chinese research and development centre in Dalian which will employ 100 people. Closer to home there will be 50 new jobs at its Dublin and Galway sites.

Last week OpenJaw unveiled t-Social, which is one of the five components to the new t-Retail Cloud. t-Social is run in partnership with Ludex and based on Ludex’s position as an IBM Watson Ecosystem  partner. At the summit, OpenJaw demo-ed how t-Social can be used to create an interface with Amazon Alexa.

It also talked about how Ludex can tap into Watson’s “Personality Insights” tool to allow airline customers to gauge the “emotional tone and intent” of what customers are saying on Twitter and then integrate this into “a social customer care dashboard”.

Another component to the t-Retail Cloud is t-Data. OpenJaw now has chief data scientist, Dr. John Carney, who is developing “a propensity engine” within the t-Retail Cloud which uses machine learning to rank how likely it is that a specific traveller will buy a specific basket of travel products, leading to what he described as “super-personalisation”.

Elsewhere, t-Marketing is a component which, Branagan said, “fills the digital marketing gap” and allows clients to promote their merchandised offers more efficiently, potentially reducing reliance on agencies and/or minimising internal costs. t-Supplier meanwhile promises to bring supply partners into the systems more quickly by creating a unified API.

The final component is an “out-of-the-box” internet booking engine which allows airlines customers to have their own transactional platform, handled and maintained by OpenJaw and hosted in the cloud.

OpenJaw will still offer its core platform to big airlines, carrying out one-off integrations on a bespoke basis and allowing these clients to add their own or third-party booking engine.

DISCLOSURE Author’s attendance at the event was supported by OpenJaw.

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