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Blog: Use of new technology to drive digital transformation

Reflecting on how flydocs accelerated its use of new technology to drive digital transformation

Matt Allen, Director of Product Innovation at flydocs shares his insights and lessons learnt throughout our Blockchain journey and the new technology implementation which has helped facilitate these efforts.

It was back in late 2018 when flydocs was first approached by a fellow client and industry partner to explore the benefits and use-cases of Blockchain technology in aviation.  Since then, flydocs has been on an inspiring exploratory journey, and today we are proudly one of the founding members of the industry-wide MRO Blockchain Alliance – possibly one of the most exciting and ground-breaking external opportunities flydocs has been a part of. The founding members of the MRO Blockchain Alliance are Bolloré Logistics, Cathay Pacific, flydocs, HAECO Group, Ramco Systems, SITA, one unnamed OEM and Willis Lease Finance Corporation.

Within the Alliance, flydocs has established a key role as a technology partner. One of the key objectives for us was to produce an aircraft component Change of Ownership solution in the form of a proof of concept (PoC) which would have the ability to interact via APIs with SITA’s Smart App via client nodes. Using our own internal learnings as well as the input from our fellow members within the MRO Blockchain Alliance, a solution design was born, agreed and development began.

The PoC design started off with me, throwing in a lot of ideas and features based on the expectation of the Alliance; completely (but purposely) over-engineered which is very typical at initial product design phases. This initial design was then trimmed back considerably to become what was agreed as the minimum viable product (MVP). Following this initial four-week design stage of defining user-stories, producing requirements and wireframes, loading the tasks into JIRA, it was time for actual development to get started.  So, we had done the what and the why of the problem vs solution, we then had to determine the “how”. We knew straight away we wanted to keep it away from our core flydocs® application for various reasons, so it was over to our chosen team of developers to come up with the right technology stack. We wanted something new, something exciting and something to challenge us, but important to learn and demonstrate that the flydocs software evolution was starting to take place.

The PoC solution was kept very simplistic, stuck to what was agreed to be in scope in terms of user stories and features but more importantly within the allocated timelines.

Now the techy bit; what did our Development team choose to build with?

  • To create a highly scalable solution, a Microservices Architecture was chosen.
  • Advanced front-end framework offers a mobile-friendly application.
  • Single page website which is proven to be faster and more responsive.
  • With our first opportunity to utilise a proper cloud-based infrastructure, docker containers were utilised which are cloud-friendly and with minimal work, it can be scalable as traffic increases, or resources can be released as performance decreases.
  • Advanced logging mechanisms in place to rectify errors in the system more easily with fixes implemented much more swiftly.
  • The front-end is not directly connected to the back-end technology thanks to the API based approach and are flexible enough to use on desktop, mobile, web applications.
  • To avoid rigidly and challenging to adopt new changes, the PoC’s API was built with new coding standards which are easily maintainable.

All of this is a first for flydocs, particularly the implementation of new technology when it comes to software development. It has proven that we have the right skills and mindset in-house to take our flydocs product portfolio into the future.

Most importantly here, this has shown that we have a massively passionate, experienced team who are keen to expand on existing skills but learn new skills.

I have to say, the Blockchain initiative has been a very exciting industry-wide opportunity and allowed flydocs to be part of a critical PoC exercise, and clearly demonstrates flydocs’ strategic objective of being the Industry Partner of Choice!

Looking back, we achieved a lot with such tight timescales, zero visibility or knowledge of the requirements let alone what they meant to the end-user. Building something from scratch using a completely new technology stack meant that the chosen PoC team came on board with little notice and did a tremendous job of taking the project to the next level and built the PoC on-time and within scope.  This is a fantastic demonstration of strength, ownership and determination which something to be extremely proud of.

Going forward, we will be sharing all the latest updates on our continued journey of driving digital transformation using new technology. We hope to bring more PoC’s utilising the very latest and greatest technologies we have available to us in due course!