Airports Need to Study Human Behavior

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By Tom Smith
In an era when time is moving faster each minute, it is impossible to project technological changes 20 years down the road, said Leonard Brody, president of the Clarity Digital Group, in an address during the Tuesday morning session at the ACI-NA Annual Conference and Exhibition. Brody’s assigned topic: Back to the Future.

Instead, Brody offered advice on a much shorter-term — five years, but cautioned that it is best to look just 365 days down the road.

“You need to become a student of the human condition or you will fail,” he said. The knowledge of human behavior will be more important than knowing what will be the next technology.

“We are no longer one person, but instead of a physical self and virtual self,” he said. “Two-thirds of the work day is now spent as a virtual experience with others inter-acting with our virtual identity.”

With this in mind, Brody suggested looking at semantic analysis, which assesses the importance of date and human behavior. This is especially critical when you have too much data and you don’t know what you want or need. One example of the use of semantic analysis is Amazon, which generates 37 percent of its sales from individuals buying things they did not initially need.

In the next 5 to 6 years, Brody sees airports looking functionally different. They will be no different than other physical spaces that need to be programmed so they are more like a walk in the market, and the programming needs to be authentic that reflects the local area.

Airports will need to cater to the traveler’s virtual identity or you will start losing them. They will spend minimal amounts of time in your airport. If they are well cared for, they will spend longer cycles of time and make your airport part of their enjoyable traveling experience.

The best thing to do as airport is to have a seamless, free Wi-Fi. And most airports currently get this wrong.

In advice that may not be practical for airports, Brody suggested that airports invest 10 percent of their research dollars and 10 percent of their time in entrepreneurs on the fringe who will help them prepare for the next 365 days.

Throughout the presentation, Brody pointed out that global changes are no longer from the top down, but coming from the fringes initiated by entrepreneurs who set out only to make a product and ended up changing the world.