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Fri 30 Oct 2015 02:00 AM

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Dubai's Emirates launches data science lab at Oxford University

Airline to employ world-class scientists and engineers with long-term goal to redefine customer experience

Dubai's Emirates launches data science lab at Oxford University
Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates.

Emirates Airline has launched a data science lab in a five year partnership with Oxford University.

Employing a team of world-class scientists, engineers, social scientists and domain experts from Emirates and Oxford University, the Oxford-Emirates Data Science Lab will examine new ways of forecasting demand and optimising seat inventory across the airline’s global network.

Longer term, the lab’s focus will be to redefine the customer experience through improved personalisation with individual customers, the Dubai-based airline said in a statement.

Located at the Oxford Centre for Information at the University, the Oxford-Emirates Data Science Lab will draw on data science, machine learning, mathematics and big data to help place data at the heart of the organisation and streamline business processes.

Part of the recently-launched Emirates Group Enterprise-Wide Transformation strategy, the lab will support the whole Group, including Emirates airline, Emirates SkyCargo and dnata, the air services provider.

Last week, Emirates Group unveiled its plans to undertake an enterprise-wide transformation initiative aimed at placing data at the heart of the organisation.

The company said it plans to re-invent business processes using smart technology and underpin decisions with big data and real-time analytics.

Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates, said: “In the age of the digital economy, we have witnessed first-hand how technology-based innovation can transform brands and disrupt entire industries by placing the customer at the heart of the business.

“The Oxford-Emirates Data Science Lab will provide us with a best-in-class dedicated team who can test and develop new business solutions using big data and real-time analytics, helping to the transform the Group into a customer-centric, travel experience company.

“At Emirates we have always placed innovation at the heart of our business and are famous for doing so – from on-board Wi-Fi and award-winning inflight entertainment systems, to operating the world’s biggest fleet of the technologically-advanced A380s.

"The concepts and insights revealed by the Oxford-Emirates Data Science Lab will help further cement our position as the industry leader in customer experience, and help us to make every passenger journey a more personalised experience from the very first touchpoint."

Professor Peter Grindrod, from Oxford University, added: "In recent years, airlines have gained access to much more data than they had in the past — from the price of tickets they sell online to the music preferences of frequent flyers.

"Now, they need to fuse it together and analyse it in the right way. At Oxford we have experts in all kinds of relevant areas — from optimisation and machine learning, to behavioural analytics and ethics — that will be able to help Emirates provide their passengers with a more personal service than ever before. It’s an exciting time for data science, with rapid advances in the techniques we use being applied to real problems that will have an impact on people’s lives.”

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