A Year of Springshot, A Runway of Momentum

A Q&A with Springshot’s Chief Commercial Officer, Robert Blair

With one year in the books as our Chief Commercial Officer, and decades of experience in the aviation industry, Robert Blair has several unique perspectives to share. Coming off of the 2023 Future Travel Experience Global conference, Rob recently sat down to discuss his time at Springshot thus far, our distinct role in the industry and the ever-evolving collaborative relationship between humans and technology.

What were you surprised to learn about Springshot’s technology? What was most exciting about it that you hadn’t known going into your role?

After joining and spending some time getting to know our customers, it was really the scalability of the platform and the size of our user base that surprised me most. I had no idea that we were used across six continents in more than three hundred airports. I always thought Springshot was this boutique software provider, and yet the company is quite large, quite broad, and has a holistic platform that’s doing a lot for people around the world.

I came from a more management-centric software organization, but eventually, I was able to see that If you can’t win the hearts of the frontline workforce, you’re not going to get the optimized output you desire.

I realized that if you can’t get your resources to engage with the technology, you’re not going to get them to do what needs to be done. And it’s not as simple as just telling someone to do more work, especially in the post-COVID workforce. You have to present work to people in a way that’s meaningful, that feels like they have some autonomy, and that validates that what they do makes a difference.  Springshot’s really good at drawing people into a community and showing them that what they do matters.

And that’s the intention of our software – it’s not just software for software’s sake, but it’s intended to make work meaningful for people. We make work personal, not transactional. That’s one of the things that makes us unique

What do you see as Springshot’s biggest strength?

First is our collaborative relationships with our customers and our partners. Second would be our responsiveness to our customers’ needs. And then third is our ability to rapidly innovate.

When you establish and nurture trusted relationships, customers can come to you and share their pain points openly.  Then, what we do really well, is we quickly ideate and build solutions to those pain points. I can point back to what we did this past year with Spirit Airlines: within a year we brought forward an entirely new product for their specific needs, and within 90 days that product scaled across the entire airline. That kind of speed is transformative. That, to me, is mind-blowing.

This ability to be flexible and rapidly innovate based on the tight-knit and personal relationships we have with our customers is our greatest strength. And it’s one thing for us to say that, but I hear that repeated back to me time and time again by our customers themselves, and that’s truly special.

What is it about Springshot that most differentiates it from similar technology? What,  specifically, are customers/users saying?

There are two differentiators that I see: First, we are a holistic platform. Others in the industry are selling specific products, and I think we approach problem-solving from a holistic standpoint. We bring an entire platform to a customer that allows them to use as little or as much as they want, understanding that their needs are always changing and evolving. We’re like a Swiss Army knife.

Second, we are an airline-wide platform. Previously, my experience was with products that are heavily architected and only viable in busy hubs that can justify the ROI. Springshot is a platform that can scale across an entire airline.

For example: An airline that has a seasonal flight six months out of the year, one day a week to Montego Bay. Springshot can deliver value and consistency for that one flight. This is something the industry is desiring. A tool that doesn’t just meet the needs of hubs or large out stations, but a platform that works in even the smallest stations.

Springshot is a scalable, airline-wide platform.

The holistic nature of the platform is definitely a differentiator. Our technical architecture is aligned with our core mission, and our mission is to engage and empower people to collaborate. To support that core mission, you need to have a scalable technical architecture. With the countless microservices that have been built to support specific components of human technical collaboration, Springshot has just that.

Springshot has a deep focus on the aviation industry – what were some of the biggest trends you saw within that industry this year and how does/can Springshot support their needs? What are customers saying and what are they looking for?

In no particular order, the first trend that comes to mind is aggregation and simplification. Today, there’s so much data that’s out there, and it can be difficult to make sense of it all, especially how and when it is presented to frontline users. How do we use this data to drive better operational performance?

Another trend is cross-functional communication and collaboration. Something that we refer to as role-based communication within the Springshot ecosystem. The market is seeking ways to increase collaboration between ground crew and flight crew around the turn of an aircraft, resulting in the most informed decision-making possible. This primarily exists today with radios and disparate systems.

Springshot consolidates and simplifies the tools and systems teams are using today. A number of large airlines often use hundreds of what they call “apps,” but what they are looking to do is unify in one meaningful platform – what we at Springshot might call a single pane of glass. We are bringing information together in one place to help drive better visibility and better operational performance.

And, of course, there’s the notable post-COVID workforce change. We are now seeing an influx of Gen-Z and Millennial workers, and we can’t just give them a tool that their parents’ generation used and expect them to show up and perform. We need to adapt by providing the same mobile engagement at work that they are familiar with outside of work. Post-COVID, we also need to consider how we as an industry will position the future of a workforce that is a collaboration between humans and robots. Robotics is coming. Ideally, we want to position the robotics to handle the heavy, back-breaking work and let humans be humans. What does that blended workforce look like in the future? Springshot could be the engagement that connects the robot to the human, the human to the robot, through our mobile platform.

What sort of future outlook do you have on technology in the aviation industry over the next 10 years?

Technology is evolving so quickly that it is difficult to predict where we will be even in the next five years. Humbly, I don’t know. But I can say that we are hopeful to remain at the center of many of these conversations. We want to be part of the advancement of the industry. We want to innovate with the industry. We want to collaborate with the industry. We are excited to see where it goes.

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