"If I'm willing to take a 2.5 per cent business risk then I don't necessarily need to have expensive network links," Tame said, speaking at an
Accenture CIO round-table today.
"Jetstar is a 97.5 per cent airline. That doesn't mean that we
don't have 99.9 per cent systems. We do. What it means though is
conceptually that from an IT point of view and a business point of
view, we're willing to take a balanced and measured business risk
in order to get a better outcome."
Some companies made the business decision that they needed to be
up all the time, Tame said, but they had to understand that it meant
"I think a lot of IT shops haven't really thought about this,"
Grant Barker, head of IT strategy and transformation for Accenture
in SE Asia, Australia and Korea said at the round-table. "Its
almost risk is to be avoided rather than something to be
Taking the Jetstar view, however, and knowing that sometimes
processes might fall flat meant that CIOs could make decisions
technology chiefs might shy away from, Tame said. For example,
providing connectivity through what he called "mum and dad
broadband" to some airports.
"You might say hang on. Broadband isn't business strength. It's
not business reliable. Well I've lost one day in two years — it
isn't bad and it's very cost effective," he said.
When systems do go down, going manual wasn't the end of the
world, according to Tame. "It hurts but you can do it," he said.
"There is absolutely nothing wrong these days with the pen."
Expensive networks had let Tame down in the past. When the
airline was expanding overseas to airports such as Bangkok, Phuket
and Honolulu, he spent money on networks that went dead
when an earthquake took out the undersea cables. The only airport
to remain online was in Vietnam where one of the ground staff
plugged the portable check-in counter into a local internet
"It actually changed a lot of thinking about what we did," Tame
It was not only networking where Jetstar saved money by taking
managed risks. The Jetstar CIO has allowed his staff administration rights on
their machines to save IT maintenance time. If they break
something, a minimal amount of time is spent trying to fix it
before the standard settings are restored. If the hardware breaks,
it's thrown away.
Tame has developed a standard operating environment on a 16GB SD
card so that all users have to do is stick it into their PC and a
virtual image will run on the machine, no matter what kind. He has
been trialling it in the engineering department of the airline.
His wish is that in two years, a condition of Jetstar employment
will be owning a laptop on which the virtual image can run. It
wouldn't matter which machine or operating environment, which
would then give Gen Y their choice of hardware.
Tame's already taken all the desktops out of airports, instead using thin
client. It has reduced his maintenance costs by 40 per cent, and
local server infrastructure costs by 100 per cent and management costs by 60 per cent at airports. He planned to
tackle the hundreds of desktops at the head office next.
The CIO also doesn't manage any IT overseas. All the applications are
run in Australia and accessed over the network. Latency has
been a concern, which Tame is tackling by putting in a 100MB
gigabit Ethernet link to Singapore with Telstra. Melbourne and
Sydney also has one with Nextgen Networks.
Tame's next project is putting in low cost netbooks at airports at
the gate. He planned to buy 40 from Toshiba or a Malaysian company
to spread over the 21-22 airports, which would be coming online in
the next three months, around the same time he expected to deliver
the SMS boarding pass.
"It's a bit scary," he admitted, speaking about the boarding pass,
because of how new the concept was. The idea was to have a code
that could be read by a scanner from any mobile phone at any
angle. The hope has been to improve the number of people who check
in online so that people would have the option to give all the necessary details when
they book their flight and are automatically checked in 48 hours before they
travel, and receiving a boarding pass via email.
Tame hoped to see the online check-in rate rise from 25 per cent
to 80 or 90 per cent. To show the benefits of this, he pointed out
that a normal check in could take one minute and 20 seconds at
the airline counter, but that a simple bag drop could be done in 27
seconds. If the passenger tagged their own bag, it would only take
15 seconds at the counter.