Choreographing the New Distribution Capability ecosystem

by | Nov 18, 2021 | Airlines, News, Retailing, Travel Tech

It is incredible to see how much things have transformed for the airline industry! To understand just how radical this transformation is, let’s turn the clock back by a few years. The airline’s legacy distribution ecosystem involved publishing standard fares and showcasing generic products and services. It was a complicated fare filing process with multiple reference records like PNRs, E-tickets, and EMDs adding to the complexity. Given this reality, one can imagine the excitement in 2005, when IATA introduced a modern framework – New Distribution Capability (NDC). The NDC framework helped ease the operational processes and transferred the control back to the airlines to showcase their products and services across distribution channels.

Fast forward 16 years to 2021: The industry spent millions on building the backbone of the NDC ecosystem – the new-age offer management and order management systems. But the framework has failed to deliver on its promises.

The fault does not lie in the solution’s maturity but in its integration, which is still not seamless. Imagine the plight of airlines who know that the fix exists but are helpless as the overall ecosystem hinders them from progressing quickly and utilizing NDC’s true potential.

The asynchronous ballet of offer and order management

The airline ecosystem is complex and has taken decades to reach its current state. Systems have been layered, modified to dance together on the same rhythm. But the introduction of offer and order management systems changed the dynamic, resulting in siloes of independent systems.

For instance, a change in the itinerary would lead to OSIN (OrderSalesInformationNotif) messages from the order management system, but this must also be relayed to the existing accounting and notification systems.

Another most probable scenario is about offer creation. It requires interaction across multiple systems like, CRM (with customer 360 views), customer preferences, and dynamic pricer before the offer management system can bundle a personalized offer. The list of such scenarios is endless, and the fact that technology outdates itself even before it can be implemented, does not help matters. As also evident in the case of NDC – the contemporary XML schema for NDC is no longer the first-choice framework to curate new applications, becoming another hurdle in setting up seamless communication across the NDC ecosystem.

A dance with NDC middleware 

As an airline, you would not want to go ahead and create custom integrations for each system. Instead of solving the problem, this approach will only aggravate it by creating clustered silos. The need is to have a middleware that can choreograph the NDC ecosystem and bring back the missing rhythm. Further, the NDC middleware will transfer the control back to airlines to offer the right products to travelers.

By creating a common layer between internal and external platforms, a middleware can simplify things immensely for airlines. Be it mobile or web-based interactions, interline or codeshare interactions, PSS-CRM-Revenue management system interactions, etc., a middleware can induce agility and operational effectiveness in the airline ecosystem by bringing in replicability, thereby reducing duplication and saving the other APIs from constant changes. In short, a middleware with below capabilities can bring back the missing rhythm and help airlines realize the true value from NDC:

  1. NDC schema transformation: While the NDC systems have been developed on the XML schema, the modern B2C applications use the current schema such as JSON. The XML schema is required be transformed as per the application to fit into the existing ecosystem of applications.
  2. Integrating legacy and offer & order management systems:The complex airline ecosystem comprises many different systems – PSS, CRM, accounting, flight operations, etc. To ensure a seamless performance, it is essential to integrate and align all of them.
  3. Data streaming and processing:Before passing data on to the other systems, it must be processed across different systems. For example:
  • When an OSIN message would share only the new itinerary, leaving the old systems to figure out the changes
  • When a flight time change information must be communicated to the passenger
  • When in the case of information processing, it is imperative to pass the right information at the right time to the travel agents.

The count for such messages can be endless. The right answer is a middleware, which can stream and process the data to relay any changes to the airline ecosystem.

  1. Trigger processes across the traveler journey through wrapper services:NDC systems are not yet mature enough to handle things like order confirmation emails, initiating itinerary changes or order receipts generations. Middleware can take care of routines through wrapper services to support the new ecosystem and ensure a perfect ballet performance.


Middleware in action: Choreographing offer creation

Creating a personalized offering is one of the building blocks of the NDC initiative. It requires multiple airline systems to come together across different stages. A middleware can sync all systems together, creating the right offer by ensuring a seamless flow of events across the different platforms, as depicted below.

In a nutshell

The offer creation use case clearly shows that we have a fix to make NDC investments worthwhile. Airlines need to onboard the middleware to choreograph the NDC ecosystem so that it can live up to its expectations and deliver what it always promised.

Do you have the NDC middleware advantage or are still pondering over your NDC investments? It’s still not late! Make your systems dance to your tune and create the differentiation you always wanted.

Check out how Nagarro helped a Norwegian start-up airline Flyr reach a key milestone in creating a digital-first airline. Want to know more? Explore Nagarro’s offerings in the travel domain and connect with them:

Written by Ashish Sapra, Nagarro