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Amsterdam Airport Schiphol


Unlocking new revenue through digital transformation

As part of its ongoing digital transformation, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, one of Europe’s busiest airports, has developed a wide range of bespoke digital solutions – many with potential as commercial products at other airports and wider markets. With the pandemic hitting the aviation industry hard, finding new revenue streams was important for Schiphol. Our team worked with Schiphol to identify operational challenges and then investigated the most promising digital solutions, applying our proven framework for commercialisation to unlock value from the best opportunities.
Together with Schiphol, we set up the organisation that will run the process and guide the first projects through the new innovation pipeline. With expertise in transport, innovation and commercialisation, our team delivered pragmatic support grounded in deep business understanding. Based on our recommendations, Schiphol built a commercialisation operation from scratch, with five high-potential projects already in development in less than a year.

The first of these – an AI-driven solution to optimise plane turnaround times – is already being tested for scalability outside of Schiphol Amsterdam. Over the next five years, solutions like this are anticipated to generate vital post-pandemic revenues for the airport.

Key successes

  • trend up

    Applied digital and commercialisation expertise to generate new revenues from bespoke digital solutions

  • list

    Deployed a proven framework for commercialisation to establish a pipeline of viable opportunities from scratch

  • people

    Set up a commercialisation organisation and playbook to realise the opportunities and provided expert support for its first projects

  • cash

    Enabled Schiphol to advance on its target of new revenues over the next five years

Unlocking new value from digital transformation 

Schiphol is like a Tech company; digital innovation is everywhere across our operations. With expert support we could better understand which of our digital solutions have the greatest potential to generate new revenue. We also needed a strategy for developing them into viable commercial products and taking them to market.

Sjoerd Blüm
CIO at Schiphol

Can innovation leaders leverage digital solutions developed in their own businesses to drive new revenues? This is the question Schiphol Airport aimed to answer with its ambition to commercialise the best digital innovations already transforming its operations. The airport’s ongoing digital transformation is part of a major trend across transport. Airports and other transport operators are leveraging digital technologies to become cleaner, smarter and more passenger-centric. The pandemic has given fresh impetus to this drive to reimagine transport for the future.

Creating a commercialisation strategy COVID-19 also brought fresh impetus to Schiphol’s ambition to unlock more value from its digital solutions.

When it came to choosing strategic technology partners, PA’s digital, physical and aviation sector innovation capabilities stood out. But it was PA’s entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen that set them apart. We were confident they could help us to shift from PowerPoint to reality: unlock value in the real world.

Sjoerd Blüm
CIO at Schiphol

The airport wanted to develop new revenue streams to counteract the contraction in its traditional revenues resulting from the pandemic. The challenge was knowing where to begin.

Blending consulting capabilities with entrepreneurial thinking Schiphol needed a team with the right mix of expertise to deliver: deep knowledge of the aviation sector and powerful digital transformation and technology capabilities. That’s why they called us. As experts in innovation, we have a proven framework for accelerating commercialisation and unlocking value from innovation.

Discovering the best opportunities for value creation

PA’s assessment of the shortlisted solutions was impressive. PA showed real understanding of the unique selling points of each solution and how these would play out in different markets.

Mieke Struik
Head of Scale-Up and Commercialisation at Schiphol

The Schiphol team and our experts began with an in-depth analysis of the airport industry, the wider market and the innovation landscape. This informed our initial scan of some 50 promising digital solutions developed by Schiphol. These included an AI-driven product to optimise plane turnaround times and a bespoke app to enable operations teams to work more efficiently. Other solutions included a ‘taxibot’ (a lower-carbon way to transfer passengers to planes rather than buses) and technology to counter the impact of plane noise on buildings near the airport.

The team’s assessment delivered a shortlist of five top contenders. A deeper dive enabled Schiphol to determine the value potential of each, begin to define an investment strategy and develop a go-to-market and business plan for each solution. 

Ingenuity Timeline

Four months to build an organisation 

With its technology portfolio taking shape, Schiphol needed a new organisation to manage the commercialisation process. Our team defined the capabilities required, designed the organisation itself and ensured it was positioned correctly within the business for maximum impact. Then the team helped recruit and onboard the business development specialists Schiphol needed. Within just four months, Schiphol had a clear framework for commercialisation and an organisation to run it. Now it was time to put these plans into action. 

PA’s style of working is unwaveringly collaborative. This means that, by the time we began implementing our commercialisation strategy, we felt a real sense of ownership.

Mieke Struik
Head of Scale-Up and Commercialisation at Schiphol

Testing the five ideas

Over the following six months, our team provided expert support, guiding the Schiphol team as they shepherded the first five solutions through the commercialisation process. This included helping develop the solutions into viable products and testing their scalability with other airports in the Schiphol group.

PA brought clarity and structure to the challenge of building a pipeline of viable commercial opportunities. Their high-quality analysis and business understanding were instrumental in winning the support of the full leadership team. Everyone is on the same page and we are making rapid progress.

Sjoerd Blüm

From ambition to action

In less than a year, our team enabled Schiphol to get an ambitious commercialisation process up and running from scratch and identify five solutions with the potential to generate significant revenues. The airport has already pitched the first of these – the ‘deep turnaround’ AI solution – to Eindhoven Airport in Eindhoven, The Netherlands as a key step to achieving full commercialisation. 

A sustainable future from digital transformation

Digital transformation at Schiphol is key to its future sustainability in a sector that faces huge challenges around reducing environmental impact, improving the passenger experience and running a large operational workforce efficiently. Digital transformation is also a rich new source of value. With a clear plan for commercialisation, Schiphol is now brilliantly placed to unlock that value and generate vital new revenues.

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Ruud Brink

PA data & digital transformation expert

Christian Groot

PA growth expert

David Huttner

Senior Commercial Aviation Expert