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nologies and trends for possible experimentation to capture early
and first-mover advantages; and fourth, developing and growing
digital capabilities across the SIA Group, enabling the transfor-
mation of end-to-end personalised travel experiences and digital
SIA’s digital innovation laboratory, KrisLab, which was opened
earlier this year, is a driving force for the group’s digital ambitions.
KrisLab is a collaborative workspace for SIA group staff to develop
innovative ideas and co-innovate with external partners, start-ups,
incubators and accelerators. SIA’s staff are a vital part of the airline’s
digital transformation, says Thil, and KrisLab is the means through
which they can be involved in the transformation.
“ This company is one of the best in the world because of its
people so there’s nothing we can do without our people being on
board,” Thil told delegates at the Aviation Festival Asia conference
in Singapore earlier this year.
KrisLab is open to all staff members to submit and work on
digitally-driven ideas and
solutions. “Staff may submit
their digitally-driven ideas
and solutions for evaluation
by the Digital Innovation Lab
team based on technological
readiness — for instance, the
maturity level of a particular
technology, implementation readiness, as well as market and
strategic attractiveness,” explains Thil.
More than 200 ideas from staff have been received by the innova-
tion team, with more than 50 ideas developed into prototypes and
19 ideas moving on to the proof of concept or production stage, says
Thil. He adds: “One hundred and thirty employees have been enrolled
in this programme, putting digital innovation in practice. They are
becoming our ‘Digital Champions’.”
The effect on SIA employees is particularly exciting for Thil. At
Aviation Festival Asia, he gave the example of procurement specialist
‘Stella’ who had an idea for a mobile app for procurement. Working
with the innovation team, Stella saw the development of her idea
through design and into an app. Stella, who has previously been
focused on checking clauses and contracts, presented her idea to
300 people, including the CEO.
“ We make it possible for employees, regardless of their digital
skills, to move from an idea to a digital solution in just a few weeks,”
says Thil. This process is giving employees great satisfaction,
resulting in a situation where “more employees want to join the
adventure”. Thil adds: “A viral effect is kicking off and the flow of
ideas keeps on growing. We forecast many Digital Champions
mentored through the Lab over the next two to three years. It will
be decisive to the company ’s overall digital transformation, making
SIA the leading digital airline in the world.”
Just one of the many ideas that has been explored by KrisLab is
the use of virtual reality to allow designers to step on board and
explore or change future cabin designs quickly.
One of the airline’s digital developments of which Thil is particu-
larly proud is SIA’s blockchain-based KrisPay Digital Wallet, which
was developed from idea to solution within six months. Developed
in conjunction with KPMG Digital Village and Microsoft, the digital
wallet allows SIA frequent flyer programme members to convert
their KrisFlyer miles into KrisPay miles instantly for spending at
partner merchants, including beauty services, food and beverage,
petrol and retail outlets. “ This is the first proposition, there’s much
more coming,” says Thil.
Collaboration with outside organisations is a major pillar of SIA’s
digital journey and is something that is set to grow further, according
to Thil. Major partners include the Agency for Science, Technology
and Research (A*STAR) and National University of Singapore (NUS).
With A*STAR, SIA is collaborating through a joint SIA-I2R Joint
Lab that includes research into predictive maintenance using data
analytics, says Thil.
It has partnered NUS on two fronts through NUS Enterprise. First,
on the SIA AppChallenge, which last year involved more than 1,700
participants from over 73 different countries taking part, making it
one of the largest innovation challenges in Asia, notes Thil.
Participants in the latest AppChallenge were tasked with ad-
dressing five pain points — improving mobile app engagement; the
offloaded passenger compensation process; enabling the KrisShop
experience; tracking inventory usage; and tracking food and bev-
SIA is also exploring academic and research opportunities with
NUS Research. “ We are looking into establishing more collaborative
partnerships, from all partners, outside or within the aviation indus-
try. It is through collaborative and open innovation that impactful
innovation can take place,” says Thil.
SIA is not relying on certain technologies in its quest. “ Technology
is just an enabler, empowering employees to run operations better,
designing new products faster, personalising customer ’s services
with more accuracy and quality,” says Thil. He adds: “Capabilities
such as AI and blockchain are very helpful, but we need to keep in
mind that they serve a purpose — generally around customer ex-
perience improvement, cost savings or new revenue opportunities.”
All parts of SIA are engaged in the digital transformation — from
the employees to the business units and through to the CEO — as
it strives to become the world’s leading digital airline.
◀ Jerome Thil (centre), vice president for digital innovation at SIA.
A viral effect is kicking off and the flow of ideas keeps on growing
... It will be decisive to the company’s overall digital transformation,
making SIA the leading digital airline in the world.
JEROME THIL, SIA
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