United Airlines and IBM work together on enterprise iOS apps for frontline staff

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The IBM and Apple mobility play gains another blue chip customer in the form of United Airlines, who has announced a partnership to deliver iOS apps to more than 50,000 devices for the airline’s ‘frontline employees’.

The apps which will be rolled out to United staff will be ‘powered by analytics and customised to further drive the airline’s digital transformation, enhancing how United serves its customers’, in the words of the press materials. In terms of product, United is utilising Mobile at Scale for iOS, a new feature from the Armonk giant aimed at rapid development and deployment of iOS apps.

United will also take advantage of a dedicated IBM iX team to help deliver the new apps, as well as IBM Studios in various cities. So the theory goes, flight attendants will have greater visibility in getting customers to gates for their connecting journeys, while customer service agents will not be chained to their work station or gate podium.

“We want to put our employees in a position to deliver exceptional service at every step of the travel experience,” said Jason Birnbaum, United vice president of operations technology in a statement. “We have incredible employees out in the field who rely on technology to help our customers. The mobile solutions and working closely with IBM and Apple enables us to provide innovative solutions for them on an unprecedented scale.”

IBM’s most recent move in mobility was to sign a deal with Bell, the largest telecoms provider in Canada, to boost network performance for businesses on IBM’s apps. One recent customer for the Apple and IBM operation was Finnair, Finland’s largest airline, who said in November it was developing a set of enterprise apps on iOS for mechanics.

According to United’s company overview page, the firm has 82,272 employees in total, with approximately 20,000 working inflight and on airport operations and cargo respectively, and 11,000 working in flight operations.

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