Case study

SymphonyAI Summit supports future growth and technology advances of world-class airport

By Mark Speyers

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Background

Pearson International Airport in Toronto is Canada’s largest airport in terms of total passenger traffic and North America’s second largest in terms of international traffic with daily non-stop flights to more than 67% of the world’s economies.

Ontario’s provincial economy is growing faster than the rest of Canada’s and its population is increasing rapidly. Just as Ontario’s growth drives traffic increases at Pearson, the airport in turn acts as a major engine of the province’s growth.

Pearson International Airport has a strategic vision is to be the best airport in the world – the entry point to the continent. By 2037, Pearson International Airport estimates they will facilitate 700,000 jobs and serve approximately 85 million passengers a year.

Challenges

Today, IT plays a very pervasive role at Toronto Pearson, where IT is becoming part of the day-to-day operations in the airport. For instance, the baggage systems have controls and delivering people’s bags to the airplane on time is very important. Or when checking passengers in, the passengers need to be able to pass through the airport efficiently. IT also has to support the facilitation of customs operations, giving U.S. Customs the information they need to pass people through.

“Many people don’t realize that Pearson International Airport is the fourth largest point of entry into the United States,” said John Thompson, Associate Director of IT Operations at Pearson International Airport. “We have a lot of U.S. Customs work that we have to do to ensure that we adhere to the U.S. systems. And IT plays a critical role in all of that.”

The role of IT has evolved dramatically over the past decade because now everything is IT. IT is everywhere at Pearson International Airport – it’s in the phones, it’s in communications, it’s in mobile apps, and it continues to grow exponentially. At Pearson, IT is running baggage systems, information screens, and co-generation plants. Plus, there are many switches and even more customers.

At Pearson International Airport, the IT team was looking to be able to better predict and solve problems through a service desk solution. They also wanted to bring down their meantime to repair. Due to multiple communication channels and systems where tickets could be submitted, they often had duplicate tickets, where they would have to open it one tool, then close the ticket in another. It was becoming very difficult for users to call something into the service desk and that issue be tracked efficiently.

“The previous tool… I think a spreadsheet might’ve worked better,” said Thompson. “We had a real struggle with onboarding employees. Because of the way our old ticketing system worked, it opened multiple tickets at the same time, and we had a plan of hope that it got done. And in IT, hope is not really a plan.”

With Pearson being such an international hub for North America, if Pearson has a problem, the rest of the country feels it because all of the airports work with Pearson. At such a large airport, IT began to look at Pearson International Airport as a city within a city. Each day, 150,000 people arrive at that airport. So, as IT looked at that and all of the things that go on in a city, Pearson International Airport saw the need for a new IT service management tool to help service the “city”.Solution

When going through an airport, most people don’t think about IT that much. They think about IT as much as they would the air conditioning. If the air conditioning is not working and it’s a very warm day, they’re thinking about the air conditioner. That’s what IT is like. If IT is not working, they’re thinking about IT. Otherwise, it should just work. But the SymphonyAI Summit tool gave the Pearson International Airport IT team an opportunity to be able to take a step forward into the future, and into the spotlight. Working with an internal team, a partner team, and SymphonyAI Summit, Thompson and his IT team were able to implement SymphonyAI Summit Service Management solution on time and on budget.

“It’s probably the best implementation of an ITSM tool I have ever used,” said Thompson. “I’m very proud of the way it works. It hasn’t missed a beat and it’s delivering the value that we were expecting it to deliver.”

As a very large “landlord”, Pearson Airport is full of restaurants and shops, and they all have ports and IT equipment. With 40,000 ports that the IT team maintain throughout the airport for different businesses and for their own, IT is critical to the operation today. With SymphonyAI Summit Service Management in place, the IT team at Pearson has been able to show that the past days of running without a computer or doing things manually, is not the way of today’s world. They can show the hundreds of thousands of travelers and employees that the future of IT is automation in service management.

Benefits

The Pearson International Airport’s IT team had a MTTR in December 2016 around 2.4 hours. Recently, they’ve been able to decrease it to 1.39 hours.

“One of the things I did when we instituted SymphonyAI Summit is I collected all the ‘out-of-order’ signs in the airport so that no one could put a on any of the kiosks in the building,” said Thompson. “I think that’s a report card on how IT is doing. With SymphonyAI Summit, we’ve been able to achieve the best meantime to repair we’ve ever achieved since tracking statistics.”

When someone that is in the airport needs to open a ticket, the Pearson IT team didn’t want it to be a hassel to open the ticket or a long process to get to a resolution. SymphonyAI Summit has allowed users throughout the business, and even throughout the terminals, to open tickets quickly. With the improvements they made with the service desk, they were able to reduce the time on the phone and they were able to better articulate what was really wrong, so IT can get to the root cause quicker. SymphonyAI Summit has also helped the Pearson IT team with better articulating what’s wrong and how to group these issues together.

“Our tickets solved on the first call this week was 81%, and that’s because of SymphonyAI Summit, the knowledge base, the speed of entry, and we haven’t had to hold people on the phone for an hour waiting to solve their ticket,” said Thompson. “That I think in itself is your report card. To me, a user wants to call in, have their issue fixed, and get off the phone.”

But one of the things SymphonyAI Summit did for Pearson International Airport was that it was able to help the IT team cut through the noise faster, better articulate the situation back to users, and work through the issues. When Thompson and IT began working in SymphonyAI Summit, they wanted to focus on their workflow engine to help articulate everything IT needs when a new employee is onboarding. Since bringing SymphonyAI Summit into the process of onboarding, the Pearson IT team has not failed on an onboard. SymphonyAI Summit has helped them achieve that by carrying out an instruction set accurately.

“Tools like SymphonyAI Summit are the tools of the future that actually grow with your business, that you can use it in different ways,” said Thompson

“With SymphonyAI Summit, we’ve been able to achieve the best meantime to repair we’ve ever achieved since tracking statistics.”

John Thompson, Associate Director IT Services, Greater Toronto Airports Authority

Summit Software Inc.,
4 Main St Suite 100, Los Altos,
CA 94022, USA

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