Rohit Talwar on the Future of the Airline Industry

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth part of our series on the Future of Air Travel. For this exclusive series, SimpliFlying consultants have been interacting with leading thinkers and futurists and tapping their valuable insights. Earlier interviews can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4

Rohit Talwar is the CEO of Fast Future Research. He is a globally respected futurist, keynote speaker and author. Profiled by the Independent newspaper as one of the top ten global future thinkers, he is leading studies on topics such as Airport 2025, the Science and Technology Timeline and Environment Impacts and Sustainability.

We discussed with him his vision for the future of airlines, and key technologies for the industry. You can watch our conversation below, followed by edited excerpts of the interview.


SimpliFlying: Tell us about yourself and what you do?

Rohit: I’m Rohit Talwar, CEO of Fast Future Research. I am a global futurist, specialising in exploring the future of airlines and airports, over the next 5 to 20 years.


SimpliFlying: Where do you see the biggest opportunities for airlines in 2015 and beyond?

Rohit: There are various challenges facing airlines, which will create opportunities. Like understanding how quickly the world is changing, how technology is changing, how new business models are coming up, how we need to put passengers in control. What it really requires right now is a big mind shift of the people running airlines and senior executives. So we see three critical opportunities:

1) Understanding the technology developments coming in the next five to ten years, so they are aware of what’s coming next, rather than knowing what has already happened.
2) Taking the core of the leadership team and immersing them in the changes happening in the business, speeding up the business, the growth of these businesses — growing from a valuation of not much, to a big valuation quickly.
3) Understanding how human behaviour is changing. Because once they understand that, it is a lot easier for them to grasp the new ideas they need to embrace like customer centricity, innovative business models and partnerships, and getting around this idea of quick execution. We see airlines agonising about what they should do about In-Flight Entertainment, and others like Philippine Airlines who get it by taking all of that out, because they know that customers will bring with them more sophisticated kits than we can possibly provide.

It’s about getting that mindset right to create ideas and execute them quickly, and having a good long-term vision about it as well.


SimpliFlying: Which are the three technologies that you think will have the biggest impact on aviation?

Rohit: Every one is talking about Big Data. We are almost drowning in information. We need to get smart in using that information to profile the customer, to understand our operations and smarten it up.

Second is Mission Intelligence, where we are getting systems that are getting smarter and smarter with time: their capacity to learn is growing. The way we can use them to run our organisations will be phenomenal.

But for me, something that will be most disruptive will be Digital Currencies. We have seen the rise of Bitcoin; we are now seeing the rise of alternative financial systems — people using underlying technologies, which are called Blockchain for communication and data. This could be the new mechanism by which we actually run our organisations, using Blockchain, using Digital Currencies & re-inventing the way we communicate, within the airline, between airlines and with our passengers.


We would love to get your views on the future of our industry. Join in and leave your comments below.

Vishal Mehra

Vishal Mehra

Vishal Mehra was leading Social and Digital marketing efforts at SimpliFlying from January 2015 to January 2016. A self-confessed commercial aviation geek, Vishal had led digital marketing campaigns at leading global agencies for 9 years, before finding his dream job at the intersection of aviation and digital marketing. His interests include Travelling, Technology, Podcasts (long before Serial arrived) and Beer.
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