Alaska Airlines has tapped Charu Jain as its new vice president and CIO. At Alaska she will lead a department of more than 400 IT professionals, according to an Alaska Airlines announcement
Jain previously worked for IBM Global Business Services, where she led the team helping American Airlines integrate its IT systems. Prior to that she worked for United Airlines for 20 years.
- Alaska Airlines’ former CIO, Veresh Sita, left the company last year to become a smart cities chief digital officer at Dubai-based Emaar Properties.
Jain has a big job ahead of her. Alaska Airlines recently bought Virgin Atlantic, so integrating the two company’s technologies is sure to be on her list. Because Jain worked on American Airlines’ migration to the cloud, which began last fall, she may also be tasked with doing something similar for Alaska.
Many airlines still use centralized computer systems that in some cases include dated technology. The shift to the cloud has the potential to provide the redundant, secure backup systems airlines need to keep systems running and avoid a barrage of unhappy customers. In 2015, Quartz began tracking the tech glitches plaguing airlines and preventing them from operating normally. Since then, it has tracked more than 25 significant airline system failures.
In response, and as part of digital transformation efforts, Airlines are also stepping up their efforts to attract and serve customers via technology as a competitive differentiator. Earlier this month, IBM and United Airlines announced they will collaborate to build a new suite of enterprise iOS apps to help United employees improve how they serve customers.