Interview: PIA’s Chief Systems Officer on the business value of digital transformation

Phu Nguyen Event, Event News Leave a Comment

“Whichever solution it is, it must have business value, without which it will merely be a solution in isolation.”

– Kashif Rehman Rana, Chief Systems Officer, Pakistan International Airlines –

Following the successful Aviation Festival Asia 2018, we’re launching an eBook featuring some of the industry’s most forward-thinking digital innovators to talk about their digital innovation journey and where they think we are headed. Download our ebook here for full interviews. Below is an excerpt of our chat with Kashif. 


You’ve had IT and digital transformation experience in various industries. What challenges do you think are unique to the aviation industry?

Kashif: In a typical industry, IT covers about 2 – 3 areas, probably the business itself, the banking systems, and if you are a manufacturing company, the manufacturing ecosystems. When you look at an airline, it is a huge, multi-functional business. You have the flight, catering, cargo, maintenance, passenger handling etc. It is a very complex web of multiple businesses all coming together to form a gigantic aviation business. That’s the key differentiator between this industry and all that I’ve been in previously — large scale versus small scale, and multiple moving components versus very few moving parts.

When pushing out IT or digital initiatives in your airline, how do you manage it across these multiple functions to achieve seamless integration?

Kashif: The experience that I had prior to joining the airline business does help to balance the act. Having a strong team is crucial too. Overall, it’s about bringing the right players, right structure and right enterprise architecture to the organisation. In terms of enterprise architecture, we must make sure we are building the right blocks and establishing how these blocks are talking to each other.

How would you define “digital transformation” for the aviation business?

Kashif: It is the new buzzword for things that had previously already been done in IT. In the 1990s and 2000s, digital transformation was more about building and sustaining business value through the capabilities of IT back-end systems and eCommerce. When we talk about digital transformation now, the business value has moved from the back-end of the firm, to the end-user — the customer. It’s about understanding their needs and translating their needs into our delivery of value to them. It is bringing decision making to the hands of our customers.

What do you think is your team’s biggest challenge right now in delivering value to customers at every touch-point?

Kashif: Building technology purely for the sake of it is illogical. We have to build technology that can be…

Join us at Aviation Festival Asia 2019
Now entering its 15th year, Aviation Festival Asia 2019 (27 – 28 February, Singapore) is Asia’s largest airline leadership conference, gathering leaders from FSCs, LCCs and airports with a size of 150+ speakers, 1000+ delegates and total 2,000+ attendees. Want to join us? For sponsorship & exhibition enquiries, contact or to explore speaking opportunities at the event, contact

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *