My First 90 Days - Day 58: Control Tower metaphor

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After a great week at Kinexions, followed up by flying across the continent, I wanted to address the topic of “Control Tower” and why we used that as the name of our new offering. The name RapidResponse Control Tower is not intended to depict our user interface, but rather to express the metaphor of the “experience” of what occurs in a control tower at an airport. To build out this metaphor, think of booking/reservations systems as the ERP.  It is the transactional system that says what is planned to happen – assuming everything goes OK with the weather, security, and so forth – and is installed/deployed on a carrier-by-carrier basis.  These systems are obviously key to the airline industry – as ERP is essential to enterprise operations. The arrivals/departures screens (and the associated public airport website) are the BI of the airport – they combine information from the various carriers and give a consolidated view of what is occurring across all operations with a view to the past and present. In terms of future departures and arrivals, they report on upcoming flights based on the “future” that is recorded in other systems.  Often, the “future” assumes everything is going to go as planned with flights for that day. Think of RapidResponse as the control tower.  It takes in data from the reservation/flight plan systems, but then it handles all the unforeseen events that inevitability occur – weather (local and for late incoming planes), ground and gates crews not being ready, flights delayed for mechanical reasons and so forth – and creates multiple scenarios for the future based on several potential outcomes – which planes are running on low fuel, getting out long range flights over short hauls and so forth.  It also handles the collaboration between all parties – air traffic controllers, pilots, ground control – keeping everyone “in the loop” on what is occuring in near-real time.  Basically, the “brains” that makes the airport run when there are deviations from plan (which there almost always are).  It then also handles the orchestration of data back to the reservation (ERP) and flight information (BI) systems. The reason that I like this metaphor is that many of us don’t think about the control tower – and the associated air traffic control function - when we fly.  We do interact with the flight reservation systems (online or through a gate agent) and pay attention to arrivals and departures information, but we take air traffic control for granted – even though it is such a key function of air travel.  Imagine a weather system moving across the eastern seaboard and pilots trying to land plans without air traffic control!  This is exactly what running a business without a response management/control tower solution is like. “Weather systems” – disruptions in supply and demand timing – roll into enterprises on a continual basis and predicting them exactly is like predicting a thunderstorm over La Guardia in August. Hope this helps. til next time … Kirk
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Discussions

Brad Lessard
- October 28, 2011 at 3:56pm
Great metaphor Kirk! Some days I find my planning desk to be just that, a control tower dealing with the inevitable weather systems that disrupt the normal flow of materials and sequencing of production. We all need RapidResponse on our side.

Best regards,
Brad Lessard
Procter & Gamble

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