Amsterdam Airport Schiphol wants to be the best digital airport in the world. With this bold ambition, we at Edenspiekermann have been brought on board to help realize it, redesigning and optimizing their digital identity and services. This means creating something seamless, keeping passengers at the center of every step of the process, and creating an experience free from hassle, stress, unnecessary mistakes, effort or expense.
We sat down with Albert van Veen, Chief Information Officer of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, to reveal the secrets behind making this ambition a reality.
We came up with a checklist. Once you’ve checked off everything on there, you might have a good chance of reaching the ultimate destination: becoming the world’s best digital airport.
1. Dare to think across borders
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol not only looks forward, but further. If you want to keep the customer at the center of the process, this is vital. A passenger’s journey doesn’t start or end at the airport. You should be willing to work together with external partners, like airlines or other airports.
Albert says: “We haven’t seen an airport with the same ambition yet. I’ve seen ambitions to change or improve a few parts of the process, but not the whole process from A to Z like Schiphol.”
2. Use technology wisely
Technology may be great, but it’s only as good as the way people use it. Use technology to solve problems or make your user’s life easier and better, not just because it’s hot and happening right now.
Albert says: “Technology is one of the main ways to create a seamless process—but only if it makes sense. Here in The Netherlands we’re more mobile oriented than people in Belgium or Spain, for instance. In those countries it doesn’t make any sense to provide the most up-to-date and innovative technologies if people don’t use a mobile phone frequently.”
3. Make sure your country is ready
The other main way to create a seamless process is—according to Albert—collaborating with the government. Working hand-in-hand with the relevant authorities can create more advanced and trusted digital solutions.
Albert says: “In The Netherlands, digital transformation is already high on policy makers’ agendas (called Digital Delta) so policies don’t cause constraints when creating a seamless process. In the US, however, they do—you’re forced to go to an officer to check your passport. That’s not something you can change very easily.”
Changing a company’s culture is one thing, but changing a country’s policies is another.
4. Say ‘bye bye, managers’
When you work in small, dedicated teams you can act quickly on customers’ needs, but this means saying goodbye to managers.
Albert says: “You can only become the world’s best digital airport when everyone involved understands how to contribute, without layers of management telling them what to do.”
5. Surround yourself with brave people
With something so ambitious, you need to do things differently. Creating the best digital airport isn’t like building a runway; you can’t change a runway once it’s there, but you can adapt and change digital products along the way.
Albert, however, says: “This is easier said than done. You’ll need people who have vision and are brave enough to do things differently.”
If you’ve got all those points covered, then you’re ready for take off to become the world’s best.
Interested in hearing the full story (and can understand Dutch)? Listen to the podcast Glitch. With thought-provoking conversations between Creative Director Joost Holthuis, Digital Strategist David Linssen, Interaction Designer Reinier Ladan and their guests, including Albert van Veen, it offers new insights and hands-on tips.
Illustration by Kay Hooijmans.