Rick Tilghman, AVIAÂ COO/CPO

Over the past few decades a transformation has swept over the business world like wildfire, steadily gaining speed and breadth. Old models have been upended, new ones have arisen, and their progeny have become billion-dollar mission critical capabilities. That revolution is big data and analytics, and the impact on business aviation is reaching an inflection point.

Surprisingly, many people have no idea what Big Data really is. They hear talk about “the fourth industrial revolution” or “artificial intelligence” and their eyes glaze over with thoughts of some far-off flying car future they may never live to see. It’s easy to assume the impossibilities when you imagine the logistical hurdles of robot jets and food pills.

The truth is that big data is much more subtle than this, and you likely encounter it dozens of times every day without realizing it. Whether it’s your Nest thermostat adapting to your schedule, a search engine suggesting trends and topics you really ARE interested in, your car adjusting to driving patterns, your insurer using hundreds of data points to instantly predict your credit score, or flight plans that auto-update based on shifting weather patterns, it is ALL part of this new world. Big data is simply the ability to use data and information to inform or automate decisions, with processes that once took days and multiple people now taking seconds and a simple algorithm.

Take commercial aviation as an example. Over a decade ago the industry suffered from poor profitability, excess capacity, misaligned resources, and generally weak insight into consumer behavior. Today’s airlines are essentially data engines with planes attached. They process terabytes of information a DAY from multiple sources to drive dynamic pricing, shift aircraft in the face of maintenance and weather events, calculate optimal fuel strategies, open new routes, and dozens of other decisions. People may not always like the results, but it doesn’t change the fact that the airlines are enjoying their best period in decades.

As a group purchasing organization (GPO), AVIAÂ’s mission is to leverage scale and transparency to reduce friction and facilitate a revolution in the way operators and suppliers come together. A huge portion of that is driven by data and analytics. Our network affords us a level of procurement intelligence that lets us optimize member spend. Our tools enable operators to see where they’re saving and missing vs. market prices or benchmarks on not only individual transactions but whole servicing pillars, aircraft, and airports. Our analytics will help our suppliers understand member deployment and trends, improving and optimizing resource allocation. We can identify and anticipate the needs of our members based on business patterns, presenting ideas and options they may not be considering.

The very process of uncovering and connecting great suppliers creates its own data network, both providing members with access to previously unknown capabilities and creating a B2B lattice of supplier inter-dependency. And as we scale our business, our APIs will enable our members and suppliers to bring much of this data to other industry platforms and services, exponentially compounding the level of insight and efficiency they can achieve.

The first step in this process was the introduction of the AVIAÂ Member Dashboard, a reporting platform that gives operators the kind of detailed spending insights and analytical insights previously reserved for financial services. By reconciling transactions from members and suppliers it provides a single source of truth that answers real business questions. Over the next 12 months we’re going to be releasing a host of additional services and tools, including an enhanced Member Dashboard, a Supplier Dashboard, internal analytics platforms, and more selective apps targeted at some of the key decision makers and actors within the procurement pipeline.

We’ve deliberately built a hybrid team with experts from inside and outside aviation. It’s a model that has enabled our product and engineering teams to not only introduce disruptive insights from industries that have undergone the data revolution, but to lens those insights through the prism of deep business aviation knowledge and expertise.