When GE announced several years ago that it wanted to become a digital company, it clearly meant more than just digitizing its core businesses such as manufacturing engines and supporting them. First with it Predix platform and now by becoming the exclusive provider of Teradata solutions for commercial aviation, the $120-billion-a-year GE is spreading its digital wings much more broadly.
The new additional capabilities are substantial. Teradata was doing Big Data before anyone ever heard of Big Data, and for 16 years straight, the company has been a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for data management for analytics.
Teradata is most famous for two things. Its enterprise data warehouses store all or many types of a customer’s data in a precisely organized way that maximizes the ability to analyze the data. And in 2007, Teradata invented in-database analytics to enable advanced algorithms to run in parallel processing mode, dramatically speeding up analyses. “Alternate solutions analyze a narrow subset of the data, which is the difference between seeing four pieces of a jigsaw puzzle versus 200 pieces fitted together,” explains Dan Graham, director of technical marketing for IoT.
GE Aviation’s chief digital officer John Mansfield believes his company’s connectivity services and domain expertise in aviation will combine with Teradata’s analytics in the cloud to yield an ideal framework for many airline applications.
Mansfield instances GE’s FlightPulse, which merges aircraft data with crew schedules, enabling individual pilots to optimize operations and efficiency, while reducing fuel consumption, flight time, costs and carbon emissions. Combining Flightpulse data and passenger data in a Teradata data warehouse will enable airline managers to further optimize operational economics.
If the two companies can make the partnership work, the opportunities are abundant. “Teradata data warehouses are designed to answer all business questions regarding revenue management, sales and marketing, as well as operations,” Graham says. “Predictive maintenance and part-inventory management are also popular analytic use cases.”
In the past, Lufthansa used Teradata to assess customer satisfaction, maximize revenue and minimize costs. Air Canada began with revenue and yield management data, then added operational flight information to its Teradata data warehouse. And Southwest used Teradata to improve customer insights, acquisition and retention, and segment customers in more detail.
Graham thinks the partnership with GE will open new applications, for example enhancing customer treatment during flight disruptions by matching consumer preferences with alternate flights. Or optimizing fuel and flight planning by benchmarking multiple flights over the same flight path. “This depends on terabytes of historical data of fuel usage on thousands of flights. Observing the history of same-route flights plus weather at that time reveals pilot and vehicle influences on fuel burn.”
In maintenance, Graham believes Teradata will help predict component failures. And its data warehouse could help also optimize labor schedules, repair bays and parts-inventory forecasts.
Finally, crew pairing and schedule optimization are advanced mathematical problems that should benefit from Teradata analytics.
Teradata has been extensively used on the revenue side of airline operations, where the scale of data meant warehouses were essential and in-database analytics supplied the requisite speed. Graham believes his data-warehousing and in-database analytics can be very helpful in other areas as well, and that the partnership with GE will advance this goal. “Data in GE Aviation applications will develop new skills in Teradata account teams, and they will discover new use cases. Teradata experts will meet many new airline operation managers. And the GE partnership will help educate new people in airlines on the benefits of analytics.”