Continental Airlines

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Case Study > Data Warehousing

Continental Airlines

I. Executive Summary
Table of Contents
I II III IV V Executive Summary The Decision to Invest Implementation New Business Strategies ROI 2 4 6 9 19 20

Technical Appendix A

Continental’s comeback from “Worst to First” is an airline industry legend. Now the company is engaged in a new initiative to move from “First to Favorite.” To support this ambitious initiative, Continental tapped into its Enterprise Data Warehouse and expanded it to enable a real-time business intelligence capability. In the first five years of operations, the EDW achieved an ROI of more than 1000% on a $25 million investment. To do this, Continental has changed the way it does business, transforming its decision-making process to include multidimensional views of the business. A company that once knew little about its important customers, set fares and schedules using only the limited conventional industry assumptions, conducted contract negotiations blind, and fought fraud only after the damage was done, Continental today is one of the best managed airlines in the world. Its strategic and tactical decision-making analytics are on the cutting edge of the airline industry.

This case study would not have been possible without the great work of a team from Continental Airlines and the academic community in collaboration with Teradata. So many Continental staff gave generously of their time to speak about their experiences and successes, in particular Ron Anderson-Lehman, Anne Marie Reynolds, and Luisa Chong. Assisting with interviews, research and writing were Hugh Watson/Terry College of Business, University of Georgia, Barbara Wixom/ McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia, and Jeffrey Hoffer/School of Business Administration, University of Dayton.

> Customer Relationship Marketing provides customer service finely tuned by segmentation. At any time, Continental can see a single, real-time profile of any of its customers and act accordingly. > Employees are empowered with access to the information they need, when they need it, to get answers and implement solutions. The result is employees who do a great job and a spot on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list for five consecutive years.

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Continental Enterprise Case Study

> Revenue Management maximizes revenue for each flight by projecting demand by true origin and destination, allocating seat inventory by fare class, reducing overbooking and dynamically matching aircraft capacity. > Operations acts on real-time information to manage issues as they arise in the flight network, including delays, cancellations, equipment changes and last-minute staffing changes. > Crew Systems optimizes crew schedules to reduce unnecessary pay costs and provides critical information to reduce contention during contract negotiations. > Security takes proactive steps to prevent credit card, frequent flyer, and internal and external fraud. They analyze bookings and create profiles to identify and target suspicious behavior before significant damage is done. In just ten years, Continental has gone from being the worst U.S. airline to being one of the best, and it has the awards and accolades to prove it – Best Customer Service, Best International or Premium Class Service, Best Airline, Best Technology – the airline has been recognized around the world by analysts, industry experts, and customers. And what the public knows of its success is just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface are hundreds of other initiatives and successes the company cannot divulge for critical competitive reasons. Continental’s story is one of inspired leadership, a bold vision for the technology to support its goals, and a strong cooperative work ethic from the top to the front line.

The Catalysts for Change
In 1994 Continental was a perfect 10. It ranked 10th of 10 in every key Department of Transportation...
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