A platform for Airlines and Viasat to manage and control all of the mobility services we deliver
The Viasat mobility group is a complicated business. At its most basic it involves taking vehicles, usually commercial aircraft and installing antenna and modem hardware on them to allow the passengers of these vehicles to utilise internet. One of the challenges for the companies that operate these businesses, such as commercial airlines is to understand how the service on their vehicles is operating.
This involves understanding if the service is operating on particular vehicles or if it is impaired in some way? If it is impaired or inoperative what is the cause of that limitation? Is it something external to the vehicle or something internal? What is the quality of the experience for the passengers accessing the internet in flight? When accessing the internet what are the passengers doing? And knowing this how should we optimise our service to get the most out of the bandwidth that we deliver?
These questions and many like them are central to the jobs of many people both in Viasat and within our customers businesses. Our design team was asked to lead the work on creating a software product that could help to answer these questions. We called it Viasat Insights.
We started by reviewing existing user types, identified gaps, grouped and prioritised them based on usage and value to Viasat.
Based on the persona mapping exercise we generated journey maps to outline the experiences that these users will have.
To visualise what this product might be like, we created multiple storyboards that illustrated key moments of use.
We took a broad view of what the platform could be like through persona mapping, scenario development and storyboarding. For the first deliverable we identified some key questions to help our users.
These questions were oriented around helping the users diagnose issues that arise during a flight. Be they on-wing or network issues and secondarily to give them a path to remediate those issues.
What is the connectivity like across my fleet?
How many dark flights do I/did I have?
Low resolution signals about fleet wide issues
Where are the issues in my network?
What was the take rate across a certain fleet?
Mid resolution signals about fleet wide issues
How does/did the hardware on my aircraft perform?
How many passengers accessed the internet on this flight?
High resolution signals about flight or aircraft level issues
Providing a high level set of signals from the available data sources to aid issue resolution.
Fleet Service DataProvides an overview of four key stats that help the user to understand the health of their fleet.
Customer IntelligencePProvides information about the passenger behaviour on the flight. Helping the users to understand what sort of sessions are being sold helps them to understand the commercial performance of the different internet offers on the flight.
In addition understanding the nature of the users behaviour online will help the airline craft relevant offers and deals for their passengers.
Service IntelligenceThis category of data helps the user understand how the network is performing and how it could be impacting the passengers experience.
Understanding where an issue has occured is key to identifying the right solution.
Knowing the location of planes that are having connectivity issues is important to enabling the users to understand if the issues are associated with the Viasat network or with isolated on-wing issues.
The nature of the issue will dictate the path to resolution. Network issues require coordination with one part of the Viasat organisation while issues with hardware on the aircraft require coordination with the airline’s or Viasat’s field engineering teams.
Knowing that a network issue is the cause can help an airline coordinate with other fligths and set passenger expectations if they know beforehand that their aircraft will be impacted.
There are differing cost implications for these different resolution paths. Mobilising engineers to fix aircraft, in particular has a high cost associated with it.
Customers continuously asked for raw data to enable them to export and manipulate and create their own reports.
Being able to predict all use cases for the various pieces of data we produce is nigh on impossible, so providing users with a way to see and export that data is a key requirement for the product.
In early stages of product ideation we disucssed producing an API that our customers could access, this is still part of the product strategy and will be developed in coming releases. Until then we decided to create a tabular and exportable view of the data so that our users could view, analyse and diagnose issues themselves.
Being able to see patterns in the data can quickly help the users understand the nature of an issue.
We conceived of a schedule style view that we mapped status colours against to help our users see patterns that would aid them diagnosing various issues.
The strucutre of the data on this view would enable a user to develop a level of confidence of whether an issue was caused by a hardware issue on an aircraft or a network issue.
A preponderance of negative status colours along the vertical axis could indicate a network issue and a pattern of negative colours along the horizontal axis could indicate an issue with a particular aircraft.
A lot of things can happen on a flight that will impact a passengers experience of the connectivity.
There are multiple systems on an aircraft that need to work in concert to provide the passengers with a connected experience.
Understanding the state of these systems is key to enabling the users to understand the root cause of an issue and to be able to implement the right solution.
The other key aspect of understanding what happened on a flight is when it happened. As such this view is structured along a timeline allowing users to identify when in a flight an issue has occured.
Understanding the state of the hardware systems on an aircraft is important to be able to coordinate the necessary engineering work.
Every aircraft that has connectivity on it is equipped with a complex array of technical systems that interact to produce the connected experience for the passenger.
Any of these systems can become a failure point that will require the deployment of engineers to fix.
Grounding aircraft to be serviced is an expensive undertaking as it takes a revenue producing asset out of the air for a period of time. In addition there is a cost associated with the parts and labour needed to fix any issues.
Being able to understand and plan around any upcoming failures and being able to get on top of any in process failures is key to controlling cost and recovering revenue for the airlines.
Viasat Insights is now a key component of its overall product offering that it sells to customers. Several large airlines are using the tool today as part of their service monitoring operations.
Subsequent phases of work are being planned with a particular focus on monetising the data we produce.