Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.

The way to go

AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes maintains a positive digital footprint.


HOW OPEN SHOULD BUSINESSES BE TOWARDS DIGITISATION?
I think if they want to succeed, they should be open to it 100 per cent. Technology offers a significant opportunity for new companies to have quick access to millions of consumers at a very low cost.

Social media, for instance, is a powerful tool and AirAsia — an industry pioneer in so many ways — realises that.

The Internet of Things is our future and people are already spending a lot of time with their digital devices. Eventually traditional media will have to adapt to the trends it brings because of evolving media consumption habits.

I myself gather news updates from digital platforms, Twitter being the most frequent. Startups should definitely explore and optimise the digital avenues available.


ANY PERSONAL TIPS ON DIGITAL MARKETING?
When it comes to it (digital marketing), branded communication or advertising counts are not the only factors that matter. You need to be able to get the right stories out and find the right recipe to make things viral. Only then will you be able to speak effectively to your audience.


DOES CONVENTIONAL MARKETING MATTER TODAY?
Well, there will always be room for offline advertising (e.g. malls and public spaces, etc) but the dire need for it is gone. The frequency of traditional methods is simply going to get less and less.

I think we all have our own digital journey where we find the message clear — we need to adapt quickly to the transformation a modernised world is bringing to survive.

I have personally made it clear to my staff that our days will be numbered if we don’t and would sometimes take a jab at my communication team by calling them out as dinosaurs. That is essentially where AirAsia is moving towards, growing our practices in line with the times, becoming more relevant and ready to take in (tech innovations) bit by bit.


HAVE YOU BEEN SURPRISED BY TECHNOLOGY OF ANY KIND?
Nothing I can single out specifically at the moment, but where we are today and how rapidly technology evolves and altering our lifestyle amazes me.

I still remember my first Nokia phone which was kind of like a weapon. Can’t recall the model but it was big, clunky and very expensive. If I remember it correctly, it cost (at the time) as much as my iPhone X today — and that was 25 years ago!


WHAT TECH DEVELOPMENTS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE REALISED?
On a personal level, I would love an application where you can just snap a photo of your meal and it just tells you how many calories you just ate straight away as opposed to finding out the calorie count of the dish through individual ingredients.

For the business (AirAsia), I would like to see more biometric authentications. Facial recognition technology (comparing live capture or digital image data with the stored record) is one I’ve set my eyes on; I want to use the face to make purchases, complete check-ins, basically taking the whole digitalisation of air travel to greater heights. You are going to see more of that from us in fact but I can’t share everything just yet. Stay tuned, we are going to launch it in Johor, likely next month.

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