By now, we all know that Etihad Airways is facing some pretty significant challenges. While the Abu Dhabi-based airline has made some headway in reducing losses, it also has some way to go if it hopes to make a profit any time soon. During the last few years, executives have had to make some pretty tough decisions and think of solutions to switch up the passenger experience in order to remain competitive while also controlling costs.
It’s times like these when a business needs a constant flow of innovative and clever ideas… far easier said than done. Many businesses in similar situations have found salvation in ideas imagined by their frontline employees – after all, they know the business inside out and have an interest in seeing the business succeed.
But more often than not, employees don’t actually have a platform to table their ideas. They have to stick their head above the parapet and hustle hard in order to make their voice heard. Even then, higher paid executives might not be inclined to listen or take heed.
Platforms like Workplace by Facebook have certainly made it easier to post ideas and business proposals to a wider audience but then there’s no way to develop that idea and push it forward. So maybe there’s a better way?
Etihad is hoping to overcome these issues with a tie-up with a Canadian tech company called Swae (pronounced Sway). Officially, it’s described as an “artificial intelligence-powered platform aimed at unlocking the full potential of Etihad’s workforce by enabling every employee to contribute to innovation.”
Put simply, the platform allows any employee to anonymously post an idea or business proposal, which can then be voted on and developed by colleagues from across the business. The system then uses artificial intelligence to identify trends or ideas that can be pursued.
“We recognise that there is an abundance of great ideas right here in our organisation and no one knows our business better than our employees, so we developed this tool to give them the platform they need to innovate,” explained Tony Douglas, chief executive of the Etihad Airways Group.
“If we are operating more innovatively internally, our guests will have a far more superior experience when they choose Etihad.”
“For the first time, employees have the power to shape organisational strategy by voting, commenting and providing constructive feedback on their colleague’s ideas, playing a direct role in the decision-making process.”
Ideas that graduate from what is being dubbed the iFikra (the Arabic word for idea) platform will then be provided with support and seed funding from Etihad’s very own innovation lab.