Speaking at the Amadeus airline executives event in Dubai, Ulrich Homann claims an open, collaborative and tech-focussed approach is will help the travel sector innovate and meet its challenges
Altitude22: Microsoft culture defines building blocks of Amadeus partnership
A culture of collaboration, openness and technical intensity are the building blocks of the Amadeus Microsoft partnership, the global tech giant’s corporate vice president told the Altitude22 airline executive summit.
Ulrich Homann, Microsoft corporate vice president and distinguished architect, said the partnership is more than just about technological change but reflects a culture at Microsoft championed from the top by chief executive Satya Nadella.
“He [Satya] calls himself the chief culture officer,” said Homann of the Microsoft chief who has been in position since 2014. “He has changed the entire leadership culture to be collaborative.
“It’s really important to create a culture, define the culture and then live the culture, which is often where we see a discrepancy with what’s talked about and what the leadership does.”
Homann said Microsoft has changed to become customer and partner centric and aims to drive "technical intensity". “Without technology we are limited,” he said, “technology needs to amplify human ideas.”
This approach has seen Microsoft collaborate with companies that would once be seen as rivals, like Oracle and IBM, and develop an open technology platform that does not seek to lock users in.
“We are the most open company bar none from an innovation point of view. We have given the most to open source,” claimed Homann.
Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service has been developed to work with the open source IT developer community and Homann said it is pioneering innovation.
“We are bringing Amadeus into the system because we believe they are a great partner for the travel industry,” he said.
Amadeus is working with Microsoft on the biggest technological transformation in its history as it decommissions its physical servers in Germany and moves its technology to the public cloud.
The firms have created joint engineering teams to work on the big challenges that travel faces.
Homann said firms in all industries face change in three key dimensions: Operationally to move and adapt faster, bringing their workforces closer to where the work is, and in being customer centric.
“Everyone one is getting a product of one – it’s my experience, not just an experience,” Homann said. “The last piece for travel is how you bring all this together in a way that allows you to deal with sustainability, along with other challenges.”
As well as ensuring safety and reliability of the Amadeus suite of technologies, Microsoft is also working to innovate travel tech through a software-as-a-service creation platform.
Homann said this will explore what future travellers want; how they want to research, how they want to find information and how that can be made easier based on intent.
“We are an engineering team and we jointly work together as in an engineering culture solving these scenarios. We also fail together which is a good thing because we have tried something, engineered and figured out what did not work and then we move on from there.”
Homann said Microsoft systems like Azure ensure vital data privacy and confidentiality which he said was an “undervalued” aspect of technology which all boards should be focussed on.
He described the Metaverse is a “huge opportunity” which by giving physical assets a digital context will allow travel operators to model operations in a virtual world and travellers to try before they buy.
And he urged Altitude22 delegates to not underestimate what Artificial Intelligence will be capable of as it gets ever smarter.
“There’s a set of capabilities that’s changing the way AI works. This is multiplying AI capabilities by ten times, a hundred times. Hold your horses on what you think AI can do, we are on the path to making it do even more.”