School of Information Systems

The Digital Transformation of Airbus. What Can We Learn from Them?

What is digital transformation? People nowdays must have heard or often heard about digital transformation, especially for those of business people. Digital transformation generally means the adoption or the used of digital technology in every activity to transform everyday life. But, digital transformation is often associated with business operations. So, in businesses, digital transformation means replacing older digital technology or the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers. In a simple way, digital transformation is more about shedding outdated processes and legacy technology than it is about adopting new technology and it’s also about enabling innovation. 

Why is digital transformation so important? A business may take on digital transformation for several reasons. But by far, the most likely reason is that they have to implement digital transformation for survival issue, gain competitive advantages from other competitors in the same industry field, increase productivity, and to achieve business targets or goals. For more details on why digital transformation is important, let’s look at Airbus’ digital transformation journey. 

Digital transformation is taking place in various industries, one of which is in the aircraft industry, for example Airbus. Airbus is a division of the Airbus Group which operates as a manufacturer of commercial aircraft. The digital transformation enhances the way Airbus works and interacts with customers. Airbus started a digital transformation process to meet customer needs since 2012. The situation where customers demand orders that are tailored to the target for accelerated delivery makes Airbus have to digitalize themselves to keep up with the trend. Starting from changing the way of producing and starting to use various technologies (digital platforms, data analytics, digital twins, collaborative robots, drones, augmented reality glasses, and so on). In the same year, Airbus used additive manufacturing by installing 3D printers for more efficient aircraft manufacturing. 

In 2015, Airbus used more than 1,000 3D printed parts during construction of the first A350 XWB to be delivered. After four years of exploration, incubation, and industrialization of digital capabilities from 2016 to 2020, the Airbus Digital Transformation Office (DTO) has presented a mature industry-level digital platform for Companies such as Skywise, DDMS (Digital Design, Manufacturing & Services), Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Analytics, Airlines Science, and the Internet of Things. 

Along the journey of the Airbus digital transformation, we can see that if businesses want to evolve with the rapid pace of digital change today, they must work to increase efficiency with technology wherever possible. They never underestimate the development of digital technology that occurs and try to keep up with the trend. Ongoing digital transformation across industries became a given in 2019. At the same time, digital transformation fatigue also became very real because we can see that many teams in various companies is getting tired or less engaged. 2020 will be a year of some reckoning for digital initiatives. Organizations that continue to underestimate the need for culture change do so at their own peril. 


Daniel Xavier Oei