Friday, October 30, 2015

What redefines customer experience?

LONDON -- Emirates has launched a data science lab in a five year partnership with Oxford University. 

Employing a team of world-class scientists, engineers, social scientists and domain experts from Emirates and Oxford University, the Oxford-Emirates Data Science Lab will examine new ways of forecasting demand and optimizing seat inventory across the airline’s global network driving immediate, tangible benefits to the Emirates Group. Longer term, the lab’s focus will be to redefine the customer experience through improved personalization with individual customers. 

Located at the Oxford Centre for Information (OCI) at the University, the Oxford-Emirates Data Science Lab will draw on data science, machine learning, mathematics and big data to help place data at the heart of the organization and streamline business processes. Part of the recently-launched Emirates Group Enterprise-Wide Transformation strategy, the Lab will support the whole Group, including Emirates airline, Emirates SkyCargo and dnata, the air services provider. 

Speaking from the lab’s official launch at Oxford University, Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates, said, "In the age of the digital economy, we have witnessed first-hand how technology-based innovation can transform brands and disrupt entire industries by placing the customer at the heart of the business." 

"The Oxford-Emirates Data Science Lab will provide us with a best-in-class dedicated team who can test and develop new business solutions using big data and real-time analytics, helping to the transform the Group into a customer-centric, travel experience company. 

"At Emirates we have always placed innovation at the heart of our business and are famous for doing so – from on-board Wi-Fi and award-winning in-flight entertainment systems, to operating the world’s biggest fleet of the technologically-advanced A380s. The concepts and insights revealed by the Oxford-Emirates Data Science Lab will help further cement our position as the industry leader in customer experience, and help us to make every passenger journey a more personalized experience from the very first touch point. 

Professor Peter Grindrod at Oxford University said, "In recent years, airlines have gained access to much more data than they had in the past from the price of tickets they sell online to the music preferences of frequent flyers. Now, they need to fuse it together and analyze it in the right way. At Oxford we have experts in all kinds of relevant areas from optimization and machine learning, to behavioral analytics and ethics that will be able to help Emirates provide their passengers with a more personal service than ever before. It’s an exciting time for data science, with rapid advances in the techniques we use being applied to real problems that will have an impact on people’s lives."

This is a universal concern

SHARJAH -- The Organizing Committee of the Child Safety Campaign have signed an agreement with the Protection of Children’s Rights Administration, a subdivision of the Department of Social Services in Sharjah, to jointly promote children’s rights and welfare. 

The agreement comes within the framework of the efforts made by the Child Safety Campaign 2015, which was launched by the Sharjah Supreme Council for Family Affairs under the directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs. 

The signing ceremony took place at the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, and was attended by Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei, Head of the Organising Committee of the Child Safety Campaign 2015 and Ahmed Ibrahim Al Tartour, Director of the Protection of Children’s Rights Administration at the Department of Social Services in Sharjah, who signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations in the presence of a number of officials and employees from both sides. 

According to the agreement, both parties will cooperate and share their experiences to implement the standards of child protection required for the Child Safety Campaign 2015, which was launched under the guidance of H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi. They will also explore the best international standards to achieve the emirate’s objectives and aspirations in child safety, and will develop a safe and nurturing environment for children, in line with the best practices applicable in the most developed countries. 

Speaking on the occasion, Al Yafei said, "We are thrilled to sign this new agreement, which highlights the integration and collaboration among Sharjah’s organizations and entities to protect children and promote their rights and safety to ensure they achieve their full potential in the future, and serve the country’s vision and goals." 

She added, "There is no doubt that any move in this direction is a step forward in achieving the vision and directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher, who gave us her full support to make this initiative a success and to serve the best interests of children, who are the cornerstone of society’s future growth and development." 

Al Tartour said, "Our involvement in supporting this initiative and signing this agreement is part of our responsibility and duty towards children and our role in child protection. Through this agreement, we strengthen our efforts in providing the utmost care for children to enable them to have a role in the development process. This initiative shows the great attention paid by the Sharjah Government to protect children from any danger or violence." 

Al Tartour added, "According to this agreement of cooperation with the Child Safety Campaign, there will be 70 active workshops at 45 government and private schools for the three age groups in schools, covering 2,350 male and female children. The type of workshop will differ from one age group to another with respect to children’s comprehension and cognitive abilities. In addition, there will be joint activities and programmes to spread awareness and educate children about their rights." 

Launched earlier this year, the Child Safety Campaign includes awareness programmes that target children from kindergarten up to the 3rd grade, as well as their parents. To achieve this, the campaign organizes many programmes and workshops in cooperation with supporting agencies in order to secure safe environmental standards for children, enhance awareness about children’s rights, communicate with them and encourage them to acquire cognitive, behavioral and kinetic skills that promote their care and safety. 

Numerous agencies are participating in the Child Safety Campaign and working diligently to educate children. Seventeen agencies have participated in the campaign this year, while the events and workshops organized so far total 182 out of 260 events that aim to create awareness among children and their families. 

The programmes will actively contribute to convey the noble message of the Child Safety Campaign, launched by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher. The campaign promotes a culture of prevention from any violence or danger that children may be vulnerable to, and effectively communicates prevention measures with parents.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Airline passengers deserve more

ABU DHABI --- Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer James Hogan on Tuesday spoke of the importance of collaboration within the aviation industry to drive change and give consumers the benefits they deserve. 

Addressing the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Aviation Day in Abu Dhabi, Hogan said Etihad Airways’ successful partnership strategy could become a model for other players. 

He told the audience that partnerships and collaboration were the most tangible way to grow in today’s highly competitive business environment, providing consumers with greater choice and connectivity. 

"Ways of doing business globally have changed over the years and aviation, like many other industries, must adapt and change. 

"In union there is strength and a shared vision. At Etihad Airways we have seen the results of working together which go well beyond commercial benefits. 

"Industry observers originally questioned our equity investment strategy. Three years on, we have proved the skeptics wrong. Our organic growth has been supported by successful code share partnerships, minority investments in selected airlines around the world, and deep commercial agreements with competitors and non-competitors – all to provide an enhanced global offering to the travelling public." 

Etihad Airways currently operates a fleet of 119 aircraft flying almost 15 million passengers annually to 113 passenger and cargo destinations around the world. With a family of seven equity partners, Etihad Airways has a combined strength of over 330 unduplicated destinations, more than 700 aircraft and 110 million passengers. With the 49 code share partners, the combined strength is 600 cities globally. 

"No airline can ever achieve scale of such proportions by going out alone," Hogan added. 

"Working together brings alignment across our partner which has to be good for the consumer. Business and leisure travelers are demanding. They want, and rightly so, choices in product, service, loyalty rewards, network, schedules, convenience and consistency. 

"Through cooperation we also enjoy significant cost reduction opportunities such as joint procurement of assets, services and supplies. We recently concluded an innovative financing transaction involving some of our equity partners which raised US$700 million across international markets to fuel growth collectively, a clear endorsement of our business model." 

During his presentation, Hogan spoke about the tremendous economic and social benefits in countries where Etihad Airways had established equity partnerships. 

As the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, he said Etihad Airways was proud to fly the nation’s flag to all corners of the world, being an economic vehicle of Abu Dhabi and the UAE, and working towards the country’s 2030 vision for a more sustainable and diversified economy. 

Despite all the positive measures taken by the airline to compete and grow its business, he also spoke of the challenges of operating in the Middle East and Africa, the region which forms the focus of the two-day IATA Aviation Day conference. 

"The ongoing instability and conflicts in parts of the region continue to affect the performance of the business. So too do security concerns deterring leisure travelers, as well as rising infrastructure costs, increasingly crowded skies and austerity measures impacting consumer spending," he said. 

"Like rest of the industry we are not immune to these challenges, but collectively, as an industry, not in isolation, we can work towards finding solutions and come up with a framework that is both workable and competitively feasible. 

"It is here that industry cooperation can be mutually beneficial and provide a win - win situation for all," the president of Etihad Airways added.

This is where your investments can go a long way

The World Bank released yesterday report on the "Ease of Doing Business for the year 2016", which ranked the UAE first among Arab countries for the third year in a row, ahead of all countries in the region included in this year's report.

The World Bank report, which measures the performance of 189 states in facilitating doing business for investors, says the UAE has advanced one step in the ranking of last year to occupy 31st rank globally this year.

The UAE came among the first five countries in the world regarding non-payment of taxes, which does not affect business, process of construction permits and electricity delivery.

At the regional level, the UAE topped the countries of the region and within 10 countries of the world in the number of documented improvements by the World Bank during one year in the delivery of electricity, processing of the construction permits, protecting investors and enforcement of contracts.

The UAE was ranked first regionally in both dealing with the construction permits, the delivery of electricity, the protection of small investors and registering property and the non-payment of taxes, which does not affect business, processing construction permits and the enforcement of contracts.

The report also praised the four improvements carried out by the UAE.

The Ease of Doing Business report 2016 is one of the most periodic reports issued by the World Bank Group. This report is version 13 in a series of annual reports that measure the procedures and legislation which promote the trade activity and investment in the states.

It offers quantitative indicators on business regulations and the protection of property rights that can be compared across 189 economies.

The report also measures all actions of improvements and obstacles affecting 10 areas in business.

On this occasion, Reem bint Ibrahim Al-Hashimy, Minister of State and Chairperson of the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, said in a statement yesterday that the ease of doing business report includes a set of the most important global indicators that reflect the extent of interest and the interest of the Government of the United Arab Emirates towards local and international investors.

She noted that the report documents all the tremendous efforts made by the local and federal government agencies in order to facilitate and develop procedures and legislation for the sake of investors to support and develop their businesses to acquire competitiveness access to global entrepreneurship leadership.

Al Hashimy commended the UAE leadership and people on this important achievement, citing efforts of all local and federal government agencies that contributed to the planning and activation of procedural improvements for this year, and the positive impacts on improving the performance of the state in the report.

For his part, Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, stressed the importance of investors and entrepreneurs, who are a growing category and one of the main pillars of effective economic planning. He added that the developed countries take into account the Ease of Doing Business when drawing the general development policies.

He noted that the experiments and studies have proven beyond doubt the existence of a close relationship between attractive countries for investors, and strength and durability of the economic structure of those countries. "Therefore, we have to pursue in the UAE permanent the latest practices and necessary global methodologies to overcome the obstacles that face investors and entrepreneurs, as this would enhance the economic sector and ensure improvement in the Global Competitiveness Reports to achieve the goals of the UAE.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

You can’t possibly get list here

DUBAI: The city has been recreated in a model, believed to be the largest of its kind, using 3-D printing technology.

The 3-metre by 2-metre map was created by Generation 3D, a Dubai-based company, and is an almost exact replica.

World-famous landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa, the Palm Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab have been reproduced as models, along with almost every other building in the city.

The map was developed for Ejadah Asset Management and could be the largest fully 3-D printed map.

“We are immensely proud of the eventual outcome and thankfully, so is the client,” said Generation 3D’s co-founder, Dominic Wright.

“We worked with our client for a month, working on concepts of how a model can best represent their assets throughout Dubai while remaining aesthetically pleasing.”

The model was commissioned as a showcase for Ejadah’s assets and its growing presence in the country. It went on display during the CityScape exhibition last week.

The map is now at Ejadah’s office in Knowledge Village and will be used as a decision-making tool for the company on current and future projects.

Meticulous planning was required to make the map as accurate as possible.

“We created a computer-aided design model of Dubai using Google Maps as our reference in just under three weeks,” said Max Reynard, Generation 3D’s co-founder and technical director. “We have a small team of four people so there was a lot of time spent on computers going through the data. We then went to print over seven days.

“The model is also very portable and can be assembled and taken apart in just 10 minutes, as well as fitting easily into two flight cases.”

Mr Reynard, who used 3-D printing on projects with Formula One teams in the UK before setting up Generation 3D in January, said the speed and flexibility of the technology made it attractive.

“Unlike the more traditional model-making you’ll see and which is often handmade, this is much faster,” he said.

“Typically, a client would want a model done in six to 12 months to prepare for events or projects. With 3-D printing we can do it in a month and it is much easier for us to incorporate any last-minute changes that are required.”

A form of powdered plastic was used as the primary material in making the model because it allowed for a range of different colors.

The map was made on a state-of-the-art 3D Systems 860Pro, which is the largest 3-D printer of its kind in the GCC, said Mr Reynard. “The great thing is that we can use all kinds of materials in 3-D printing, from clear materials to plastics, metals and even gold,” he said.

“That is great for developers, architects, engineers and the wider construction industry.”

With the experience gained from the Dubai map, Generation 3D has now started work on a similar model of Abu Dhabi.

“We’ve just started that but, with the lessons learnt and techniques we have developed on the Dubai project, it would not take as long,” Mr Reynard said.

Ejadah also commissioned the Abu Dhabi map, which is expected to go on show at CityScape in the capital next year.

Mohammed Al Gergawi, chairman of the UAE National Innovation Committee, said earlier this year that the aim was for Dubai to become “a global hub for innovation and 3-D printing”.