Archive for ‘September, 2011’

AircraftIT chooses Conduce Software

Conduce Software are delighted to announce that we have been selected to develop an iPad app to complement the vendor neutral aviation IT website AircraftIT.

AircraftIT, which was launched earlier this year as a spin-off of the highly successful series of Aviation MRO & Operations IT Conferences is the brainchild of Aircraft Commerce’s Ed Haskey and was developed by Conduce Software’s sister company Dreamscape Design. Having analysed the amount of visitors accessing the website with iPads it made perfect sense to provide an app with optimised content that would allow for offline access to media and resources that the website provides to its users.

The first version of the app will allow users to download and view the MRO and Operations eJournals which are published every two months. Future versions shall include access to the weekly software demonstration webinars and much more besides.

Ed Haskey the founder of AircraftIT said: “It seems that everyone in aviation is talking about iPads. Visitors to the AircraftIT website are using iPads, they are looking for iPad apps, they are finding our website by searching for iPads and whenever there is a software demo of an iPad app there is a marked upturn in visitor numbers. It makes perfect sense to cater for that demand and release an iPad app of our own. With more and more airlines equipping their staff with iPads we hope that our app will be one of the first apps to be on their download list.

Conduce Software who have developed a number of aviation specific apps for iPhone and iPad advised AircraftIT to adopt a phased approach to development and release to allow for a rapid deployment of an initially small but useful app which would be able to build a following as future versions and features are released. AircraftIT for iPad is being planned for launch as a free app on Apple’s iTunes App Store later this year.

For more information about AircraftIT please visit

Click here to find out more about Conduce Software

Hire the Hackers

I really enjoyed this TED Talk by Misha Glenny about the mirky world of cyber security. He profiles a number of convicted hackers and suggest that the should be employed to do good. The best quote from the talk:

“There are two types of companies in this world. Those who know that they have been hacked and those that don’t know that they have been hacked.”

Gamification is killing Gamification

Right! That’s it!
I’m officially calling shenanigans on Gamification. I used to be a number 1 fan of gamification (the practise of adding game mechanics to non-gaming scenarios), but no longer. In the hands of marketeers and idiots, who are slapping points and rewards to each and every application without thought or care about the benefits or otherwise of doing so, a bloody good idea is being ruined and the gamification band wagon is being turned into a Blackpool style amusement arcade.

Beach Amusements photo by PL Chadwick at

For the benefit of our overseas readers Blackpool is a down market seaside version of Las Vegas.

I first started writing, speaking and evangelising about the idea of gamification before I even knew the concept had a scientifically recognised proper noun. I used to introduce the concept in talks as “Work vs Play” and talked about how making business applications fun would add an element of much needed persuasive design to traditional business applications making users more likely to enjoy using software promoting efficient and effective adoption and usage, therefore increasing the quality of data and return on investment. Academics in the field of gamification and the psychology of gaming like Sebastien Deterding and Richard Bartle (both of whom I have met) warn against the pointless sprinkling of points and rewards to anything where there is already an intrinsic benefit and where there is no autonomy within the process, but we continually see such ridiculous concepts being peddled.

Take a look at this video. It’s a short demo of an expense application from a recent SAP TechEd Online event.

Woo! Awesome….!
Am I the only one shaking his head here? OK, so I know that this was probably just a small proof of concept application that was developed in a limited period of time at a hackathon or something similar, but this is a classic example of what happens when you get developers to produce an unspecified bit of software for a business process that they have never actually used themselves…. The result is a worthless bit of software that in all likelihood has a detrimental effect on the business process you are trying to improve.

It’s hard to know where to begin to pull when pulling this apart.
So first of all, according to countless studies popularised by the works to Deming, Juran and Taguchi decades ago, giving rewards for a scenario which is outside of the control of the participants is grossly counterproductive. Take a look at the Dan Pink TED Talk for a detailed explanation.

Secondly, and again I’m guessing this is just a proof of concept, but adding points, rewards and prizes to a user interface that is less than optimised for a great user experience is totally pointless (the pun was intended). The gamification elements in this example should be used to enhance the user centric design, not totally replace it.

The game that has been developed here favours users who are frequent business travellers, and being in the past a very frequent business traveller the application scenario completely flies in the face of a realistic set of circumstances. A game that is totally biased towards one specific set of users is not a game by definition. There are some many parameters that have been completely overlooked with regards to business travel. Again I know this is a prototype, but focussing on flight prices alone is ridiculously out of touch with reality. What about factoring in numbers of night’s accommodation, commute to and from airports, car parking, convenience, and frequent flyer rewards, working departure and arrival times around appointments and so on? I could go on.
Instead of just brainlessly over-simplifying the travel booking process and slapping points on top of it these clearly very clever guys would have made better use of their time in a real life situation doing something to improve the amount of time taken to book a flight. How about consuming the APIs from any number of travel comparison sites into their core business application and providing visibility against that user’s schedule?
Turning a business process into a game does not improve productivity…. This is proven. Applying persuasive design which might include certain game elements to a business process is a far better use of time and resource. If you want to improve the effectiveness of capturing business expense data and reducing travel expenses, you are much more likely to see a marked improvement by two simple actions.

  1. Get someone who knows anything about UI or UX design to come up with a redesign of your paper expense forms instead of getting a junior accountant or financial controller to do it. All expense forms I have ever seen suck…
  2. Give people booking business travel some training about their responsibilities and accountabilities. Train them on policy and about what you expect from them in terms of improvement. Policies are not read by employees….

I love the idea of gamification – but not as a means to an ends on its own. It should be part of a properly investigated persuasive design. With our own software we have rejected simple point scoring and rewards, but have experimented with a number of game elements to improve software adoption and productivity. Making a a form on an app that is designed to replace a paper form look and behave like paper is a subtle user experience improvement that borrows from game physics to delight the user. Adding juicy feedback to a business application may be able to enhance productivity by promoting efficient software usage. Utilising on-boarding techniques that are widespread in the gaming world to help users learn how something works when being done for the first time is a great way to promote user adoption and help reduce the cost of technical support. This is all a part of the consumerisation of business software.

I need to begin to see some examples of properly thought out examples of gamification in business software or else I’ll be declaring outright war. This is my Call of Duty!

Related Posts:
Gamification Workshop Highlights
Gamification Night
Miami Presentation Video

Author: Paul Saunders

Word Appropriation: Unwrite

v. To remove words that have already been written. Similar to deletion, but much less gratuitous and much tougher to do. (esp. When great effort was exerted to write the words to be unwritten in the first place.) Example: Paul you have written 4000 words when the limit is only 3500. You will need to go away and UNWRITE 500 words.

Tablets for IFE – a passenger’s view

Last week I was finishing off a paper for next month’s AircraftIT Ops eJournal on the use of Tablets in Flight Ops. I spent the last couple of days before the submission deadline “unwriting” (like deleting, but much tougher) and rewriting various sections that had been written way too late into the evening to make much sense. One portion which I removed was on the use of tablets and in-flight entertainment devices. Part of the reason for the gratuitous culling of that section was because I have zero experience of implementing or designing in-flight entertainment systems although as a frequent flyer and iPad user I did feel qualified to air my opinion.

Anyway – waste not; want not… here are those thoughts recycled.

One area that was promised to be revolutionised since the launch of the iPad in 2010 is in-flight entertainment (IFE). On the face of it this made perfect sense. The idea of equipping passengers with a devise designed for media, with a battery that would last for the entirety of most flights is pretty attractive. The concept potentially allows for an additional revenue stream for low cost carriers, while satisfying the demand for in-flight entertainment without the need for cost prohibitive retrofitting. However, the reality seems to have proven a little more complicated than it was first thought.

From a passenger’s perspective I would imagine that IFE on a tablet would be a tough nut to crack.  Firstly I don’t quite understand how distributing fully charged and fully loaded iPads to passengers would work. It seems that some of the problems airlines have encountered revolve around the fact that charging and loading secure content to the devices is massively labour intensive… This is where the practical problems begin. I have yet to come across any conventional in-flight entertainment systems that I would choose over my own iPad on a flight. As great as some IFEs are they just cannot beat my own tablet. Since using an iPad I have yet to board a flight and use the aircraft’s IFE in favour of my iPad. If I were to be using an airline distributed tablet on a flight I would expect and demand it to be as immersive and as engaging experience as if it were my own devise, otherwise why bother? Just loading a device with a couple of the latest films, albums, books and games is not nearly enough. I would at least want all of that with a context that matched my viewing, reading and listening preferences, plus a means to synchronise content that I have created post flight. In future once in flight communications become more cheaply available, you’re going to want the full gamut of browsing, streaming and connectivity that you would expect from a standard 3G connection. Of course, as iPads and other tablets become more and more widely adopted by passengers the demand for an airline distributed device becomes less of a requirement.

How about focussing on streamed content instead? Having an on board local area network connected to a media server that tablets, smart phones and laptops could stream content from might be a satisfactory alternative. This would mean that only the central repository would require updating, whilst distributed devices can be a much lower specification as they would only need the necessary app installed to stream the content. The same content would be available to passenger owned devices as well. The streaming software would allow for passenger engagement that extends beyond the flight offering the chance for passengers to vote for or suggest content, allow for user feedback and loyalty.

I’ve since found out that the suggestion of streamed content is something being trialled by Quantas on one of their B767-300 aircraft. What do you think? Will “Bring Your Own Technology” to connect to an aircraft’s IFE media server provide a realistic alternative to embedded IFE for the gadget loving passenger of the future?

Related Posts:
Tablet Strategy Step 1: Buy an iPad
Slides: Tablets – is aviation ready for the post-PC era?
In Flight Android Entertainment

Author: Paul Saunders

Henry Ford Quotes

“Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.”

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

“I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.”

Aviation Week Teardown Report Coverage

Over the past few weeks I’ve been lucky enough to have featured a couple of times in Aviation Week’s MRO blog Teardown Report.  After being featured in the second edition of the blog on social media and other related tech in the aviation MRO and aftermarket world, I got a brief mention in Teardown Report #8 and in issue #9.

Last Friday I got a mention in Teardown Report #12 mainly as a result of the Twitter banter and real life conversation I’d been having that week with Rusada’s Tim Alden about Cloud Computing.

A screenshot from last week’s Aviation Week Teardown Report

The conversation continues online via a couple of new-ish Twitter hashtags that are being promoted by the Aviation Week team. These are #AvMRO for all aviation MRO related chat, and #AvMROIT for all IT banter connected to aviation MRO.

Related Posts:
Tablet Takeover Infographic
Video: Tablets – is aviation ready for the post-PC era?
Slides: Tablets – is aviation ready for the post-PC era?

Author: Paul Saunders

Tablet Strategy Step 1: Buy an iPad

I seem to have spent a lot of time over the last few months advising airlines, MROs and software vendors about their mobile and tablet strategies. One of the first questions I ask my clients when discussing tablets or iPads in aviations is: “do you have access to an iPad?” I’m still amazed by the number of people who are embarking on a mobile or tablet strategy who do not have access to one of the latest devices….

The first step anyone should take if they are thinking about a mobile or tablet strategy for their business, whether they are an airline, an MRO or even a software vendor looking to provide mobile or tablet optimised versions of their products is this:

“Go and buy an iPad….”

You might not have already bought an iPad because you are still contemplating which platform or device route you are going to go down…. It doesn’t matter. The iPad2 is still the benchmark device that all others look up to and it outstrips the rest of the market by a long way. Android may have eaten in to a large chunk of Apple’s market share, but the iPad still has 65% market share and there is not one single device which comes close to it in terms of sales and available apps.

You simply cannot visualise how you want to utilise any tablet in your strategy without having a clear understanding of the capabilities of the iPad and iOS and without having used one for an extended period. Just knowing the technical specifications of a device and the operating system is simply not enough. You need to have lived with one and be familiar with usage context to fully comprehend the strategic possibilities of latest  and future generation mobile devices. Real life battery capabilities, practical use cases, actual network latency issues are all major considerations that should come into play when designing a strategy for mobile device utilisation. Without knowing how such a device is used in the real world, how can you even begin to understand the requirements of your users?

Related Posts:
Tablet Takeover Infographic
Video: Tablets – is aviation ready for the post-PC era?
Slides: Tablets – is aviation ready for the post-PC era?

Author: Paul Saunders