Yesterday I went to the Middle East launch of HP’s ElitePad 900 – a tablet specifically tailored for larger enterprises, government bodies and other organisations.
Apparently very robust, repairable and more modestly priced than other high-end tablets, the devices are pioneering an interesting smart jacket ecosystem, essentially an intelligent case, that enables added functionality for specific industries. Picture a credit card reader, with real point of sale dexterity for retailers or even a sterile shell, for surgeons and other healthcare professionals.
While HP have been tight-lipped about who’s going to be adopting the new elite pad, Sales Director Mahmoud Ibrahim Sofrata told reporters that around 30 large firms are testing the device in order to establish bespoke jacket technology and/or other business applications.
The one deal they haven’t been coy about is with Dubai’s very own Emirates. HP’s elite pad, running on Windows 8, is being rolled out as a handy tool for cabin crew to run their KIS application, which stands for Knowledge Driven Inflight Service.
I spoke to Kevin Griffiths, Senior Vice President for Cabin Crew at Emirates Airline, about the deal – and how technology has enabled Emirates’ flight attendants to deliver a better service since KIS debuted eight years ago.
“Over eight years ago, we recognised there was a real opportunity to empower our front line customer service staff in the air, with information about the crew, where they’re flying to and also about the customers. That’s been a journey we’ve been evolving over the last eight years with legacy style tablet computers,” Griffiths told AMEinfo.
“The KIS application gives pursers broad information about the flight itself; the configuration of the plane, destination, captain and so on. It also holds information on customers and cabin crew themselves. Emirates has sixteen and a half thousand crew from over 130 nations, so forming a team quickly, with a group of people you’ve not met before, is vital,” he said.
It is fair to say that not only Emirates’ competitors, but many large enterprises in the region, will be watching their adoption of this new device, keen to see if it’s also suitable to enhance their business. But in enhancing their service, Griffiths isn’t likely to get a clear indication of ROI – at least not to a dollar figure.
“I think in the service business we’re about delivering a great experience to our customers. It’s always very hard to pick one aspect and say that alone is going to make the world of difference – it’s a whole combination of things and how they weave together. So giving someone a piece of information without the training of how to use it is meaningless,” explained Griffiths.
“For us it’s just intuitive that allowing a purser to fom a team quickly and efficiently, giving them information to deliver a great experience to customers, and then obviously giving them as much information as we can to allow them to personalise the offering, can only be a good thing,” he said.
Why the ElitePad 900?
The Emirates executive went on to extol the ruggedness and security of the new ElitePad, explaining that the device is also elegant enough to fit within the airline’s brand. And, despite cabin crew pocketing all of your personal information, Griffiths maintains there are no security concerns.
A full-scale roll-out is scheduled within the next three to six months.