How Technology Can Help Airlines & MROs Retain Talent

There’s been a lot of discourse about how technology such as AI will take away jobs. But, what if it can actually have the opposite effect?

This article is also featured on MRO Business Today.

Airlines and MROs are having a difficult time retaining talent because of industry demands and supply chain challenges. The jobs of material buyers and procurement specialists are becoming increasingly difficult, with more work coming and less staff to manage it all. Therefore many talented professionals are flocking to other opportunities in other industries. 

However, technology could be leveraged not to replace these employees, but to augment their abilities and improve overall job satisfaction. Here’s how airlines and MROs can lean into technology to improve employee retention. 

Leave the Monotonous Work to the Machines, Focus on High Value Tasks

Specifically, there is a supreme opportunity to utilize the automation technology of AI. Algorithms can be trained to automate the procurement process of routine parts purchases. 

For example, low-value and non-critical orders can autonomously be managed by procurement AI, freeing up the bandwidth of employees. Not only does this reduce cognitive overload, it also frees up valuable time, so employees can focus on exceptional tasks that most require human ingenuity. 

This leads to an increase in overall job satisfaction because employees feel useful and valued instead of just sitting around clicking buttons, they can make a tangible difference to the business, develop relationships and use their brains. 

This also affords employees the opportunity to develop additional skills such as project management, problem-solving and contract negotiation, which gives them the opportunity to advance their careers within the company. 

Best of all, procurement AI isn’t just for routine and/or basic tasks, it also acts as a helpful aid when managing exceptions and hard-to-solve problems. Specifically procurement AI can help in three core areas:

  • Validating purchase orders (POs).
  • Managing exceptions on requests for quotes (RFQs).
  • Managing exceptions on POs.

In total, by properly leveraging technology, airlines and MROs can reduce the manual efforts of their procurement teams by up to 90%. And not only does AI do the work, it does it well. On average procurement teams experience a 20% reduction in costs, a 15% increase in on-time for performance and 100 times faster cycles from the time of part requirement to a PO.

Better Manage Travel Demand Ebbs & Flows 

Another challenging facet of the aviation industry is managing the constraint fluctuations of traveler demand, which greatly impacts operations. We experienced the extreme versions of this during and after the peak of the Covid pandemic.

After the entire industry came to a screeching halt, most airlines, airports and supporting companies were ill-equipped to manage the sudden surge in demand. After laying off significant portions of the workforce, while seeing a number of other valuable employees leave on their own accord, it was impossible to scale back up in time with new/more employees. 

Even during more typical demand patterns, it can be challenging to balance a workforce and resources against seasonal peaks and dips in demand. 

This is another area where procurement AI can be an advantage to improving operations. This is because it is much easier to scale up and down with technology as opposed to managing to have the right amount of employees on the roster. It’s much easier to hit pause on a piece of software than it is to make personnel adjustments. 

Procurement AI can simultaneously manage hundreds of requests in minutes. And if you’re going through a downtime, you don’t have to worry about spending money on a resource you’re not using much because you’ll typically only have to pay a small percentage fee on each transaction you do carry out with your technology. 

The way forward isn’t a matter of choosing humans or machines, but a symbiotic approach where each element is integrated into your operations to achieve optimal results. Therefore, technology won’t replace your employees but will improve their overall job satisfaction and lead to an increase in employee productivity and retention.

Take Control of Your Supply Chain – on Your Terms

Choose the service level you currently need and scale up and down as needed. You'll pay for everything your aircraft material procurement process needs and nothing it doesn’t – no risky contracts and frivolous add-ons.