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​Customers should drive industry IT standards: Emirates’ Mueller

Industry players should "ask 15-year-old kids" what will transform air travel technology rather than attempting to force an agenda on consumers, in the view of Emirates' chief digital and innovation officer Christoph Mueller.

Speaking during a panel session at the SITA's Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels today, Mueller said: "If you leave it to people thinking about the old value chain, you will go nowhere.

"We should not start with the standards – we should start with the question: what does the customer want?"

He was responding to suggestions by SITA chief executive Barbara Dalibard that industry itself should be driving the adoption of IT standards.

"If we do not have standards across the industry, we will not be able to create the seamless experience the customer wants," argues Dalibard.

But Mueller disagrees. "You cannot leave it to an association to set the standard," he contends.

Mueller goes on to cite a warning from the automobile industry, where manufacturers attempted to develop their own satellite navigation systems, despite the existence of a top-selling system for which consumers had already shown a preference. "For the past 20 years, car manufacturers have been competing against [a proven product] to create their own satnavs," he says. "They are all crap."

He highlights the rise of online streaming company Netflix as a good example of consumers driving the agenda and adjusting their expectations. "Customers don't want to go on a clunky device with back arrows and so on," he says, referring to airline IFE offerings.

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