I am in Tampa waiting to fly back home to New Jersey and, thanks to the snowicane but rather than sitting in the usual information vacuum to which airlines subject us, I am watching as Continental shows us the status of the flights that were supposed to bring our jet in from LA to Cleveland to Newark to Tampa. I saw the flight to Cleveland canceled, then the one to Newark canceled, and I figured we were doomed when I saw the aircraft number for my flight erased. But then I saw us assigned a new jet, one that flew into Tampa from Houston last night.
That’s simply amazing. Continental is practicing operational transparency. It opened up information is already has to us, the customers, so we can be informed and empowered. This way, I’m not cursing the airline and its employees. I’m well aware that our flight might be canceled and that’s entirely out of Continental’s control, so I wouldn’t blame them. But every time this has happened in the past, I hated being in the dark; I hated being lied to by airlines; I simply want more information. And now an airline is giving it to me. Bravo for Continental.
What information does your company have that you can and should share with your customers?
The essence of Google’s value is that — though it’s opaque about its algorithms and ad splits — it turns around the information it gathers from us and feeds it back to us (that is, our aggregate links and clicks inform its search results for everyone). OpenTable lets us know when tables are open in restaurants so we can plan on our own. In What Would Google Do? I suggest that a Googley restaurant should share data on how many people order each dish on a menu so we can use that to choose what we want. A manufacturer should expose the provenance of the component parts that go into its products. A newspaper should footnote its work so we can know the provenance of its information and we can judge the sources. A store could reveal its inventory so we know there’s only one left (better hurry). I say we should expect doctors and hospitals to reveal data about the patients they treat. What else?