22/11/2013 06:27 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

Why Innovation Is the Key to Success

In any industry, innovation is critical. It's how we make progress. It's how we transform and shape the world so that it best suits our needs. It's how we succeed.

The travel industry is no exception: innovation is what has given us the ability for commercial flight; to visit different parts of the world frequently and affordably; and in recent years, it's changed the way we research, plan and book travel.

But there's more to innovation than coming up with new products and services. Anything new that you implement has to have a value to your customer, so that it creates or enhances what you're providing today. If it doesn't, you're simply changing for the sake of change, which is more of a distraction than a help.

I believe that one of the most exciting opportunities for innovation that currently exists in the travel industry is big data, which has the potential to be thoroughly transformative, especially when we look to innovate the travel experience.

We're already seeing some innovative uses of big data within the travel sector that will make real differences to travellers: on-board sensors and predictive big data analytics have the potential to make maintaining planes, trains, and other modes of transport more timely and efficient. Problems could be predicted before they are allowed to cause disruption. Or, imagine receiving advice about onward travel options as soon as your delayed flight lands, receiving discounts for your favourite airport shops, or special rates for hotels that match your most positive traveller reviews via your mobile device. Big data will give travel providers the ability to predict and respond to customers' needs faster and more seamlessly than ever before.

As a technology company, Amadeus aims to ensure that the travel industry is always at the very cutting-edge of the technology world more generally, and is providing the travel sector with business intelligence tools that harness big data to transform customer-facing applications, internal operations, and services.

As travel becomes both more democratised and complex, consumers need more help in navigating through what can be a vast array of available options. So a major focus of our big data efforts involves improving the search process and presenting customers with more targeted and relevant choices - in essence product and service innovation with big data at its core.

In today's ever more competitive market, if you stop searching for areas of your business that are ripe for innovation, sooner or later you're going to fall behind - or, worse, fail. There is a fundamental need in our economy for continuous improvement in order to raise productivity and create efficiency gains. And if you don't meet that need, your customer base could easily become dissatisfied and erode very quickly. This is simply because someone else may be poised to take the spotlight by doing a better, more efficient job at innovating in ways your customers will applaud. The good news is that innovation is more of a science than an art, and it's not just about great products: we believe innovation is a 'way of thinking'. It starts with a genuine customer focus, it's reinforced by a commitment to continuous business improvement, and it becomes reality by employing smarter technology.