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Travelling can be a stressful experience. Probably many travelers can relate to this statement. It starts with getting to the airport, waiting in lines at the security check, and maybe also delays in departures because of malfunctions with the plane itself leading to delays. A lot of waiting is involved. A stressed traveler is a dissatisfied traveler. So, how to improve the experience? What can airports do to get rid of delays and improve the whole stay at an airport and in the end benefiting from this happy traveler?

A real-time digital dashboard

At CeBIT you could experience a live airport scenario covering different scenarios of the traveler interaction points influencing the traveler directly and indirectly. Here you could see how IoT has a direct impact on waiting lines. With sensors long waiting lines are detected and directly send a suggestion to the airport management to send security staff to the security check or opening a new security area. The system not only detects the long lines; it immediately calculates and suggests the number of staff the airport will need to send. All this data can be viewed and tracked on a digital dashboard. You can also see who is coming to the airport with ridesharing software SAP TwoGo or also learn from Concur data that travelers use to plan, book and expense their trips. All the data can be stored and analyzed from the SAP Cloud Platform visualized on a digital dashboard.

Improving the traveler experience

After successfully mastering the security check the traveler will be searching their way to their gate. When walking there, they will be passing by a lot of shops. Shops that offer various and diverse items from food and beverage to designer clothes. Key for the shops will be to motivate their travelers to offer them the things they want – basically like all retailers are challenged with. Therefore, they need to know their travelers and offer a personalized experience. They can use the information of flights and other data to come up with profiles and customize their advertisement real-time to offer certain products to different audiences. Shops can then also measure the increase of sales based on advertisement positioned at certain areas within the airport.

Reducing vehicle downtime  

At the gate it is all about meeting the actual departure time. Airlines are trying to find new ways of boarding a plane intelligently. There are interesting concepts of grouping people by seat location – window first, aisle seat last, rather than boarding by rows as many airlines are doing. As a side note, I don`t know if there is an optimum way as we are still humans entering the plane that try to secure a spot for their luggage in the overhead bin. I did both and still I cannot see which way is faster.

At the airport the plane needs to be loaded with luggage, catering, and deal with technical checks before they can clear the plane for departure. In these processes, many vehicles are involved, getting people and items to the plane. Like with other machines, these vehicles might have problems like a broken engine or low battery that needs to be fixed before an incident happens that leads to downtimes. With IoT SAP Leonardo software Vehicle Insights, Assets Intelligence Network and Predictive Maintenance you can see where the vehicles are, how long they have been running and if there is any issue with engine or battery. This way you can immediately react to failures or plan the exchange of certain vehicles to prevent downtime.

On top, the user has the option to use augmented reality with a tablet to see what the current performance data looks like. These functionalities are an exciting glimpse on what the very near future of airports could look like.

This is only one example for digital industry scenarios. We will have more to share at SAPPHIRE Now in Orlando in May. Learn more about SAPPHIRENOW and secure your spot today!


Active Contributor
To be pestered by the targeted ads from the designer stores on the way to the gate ("Jelena, are you going to Las Vegas? Don't leave without our overpriced stuff!") is the last thing I'd want to see at the airport. On the other hand, notifications such as "hey, this is the last restroom before your gate" or "there is a shorter line at a coffee stand by gate X" would be quite helpful.

Not sure how "near" the future really is though. We've already been promised flying cars before. Airports and airlines would have to see significant ROI before anything like that is more than an SAP demo.

Thanks for posting though, interesting blog!
Agreed - useful information for last toilets are a plus, but maybe airports want to increase shop revenue. The functionalities itself are available, however not all at one airport. Thanks for your comment.
Former Member
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I really liked it. Any idea, what technology solution/stack SAP used to build this? Thank you -
Hi Arpan,

it's a showcase that was build on SCP and SAP Vehicle Insights and Asset Intelligence Network (our IoT solution for moving assets and asset history respectively). Other products include Hybris and Exchange Media (campaign management)
Hi Jelena,

I was involved in the design and the use cases and I agree with you that the notifications are a definite benefit for passengers. As far as the advertising goes, I think passenger acceptance will be linked to how well the advertisements matches the needs of the passenger. Using this system airports could more precisely target the passenger and offer them relevant information. For example when my plane is delayed, I might actually like a coupon for coffee at a discount.
Active Contributor
Matching the needs is exactly where the challenge is. I remember the early days of Amazon trying to guess what I might like and recommend stuff. Unfortunately, it also tried use in the recommendations the one-off items that I bought as a gift, for example. This ended up in Amazon adding a button where the users could exclude the items from recommendations manually. But not everyone would be keen on serving as a robot for Amazon's advertising purposes.

On the other hand, when the advertisers try to get to know you more intimately it can quickly turn creepy or even illegal. There is not much wiggle room between useless and intrusive, it seems. Hopefully next generations will see it for what it is and won't forfeit their privacy completely for the sake of a coffee coupon.