Delta and Walmart Are Using Deep Data to Improve Service

Overview Using deep data to revolutionize their approach to customer service, renowned companies Delta Airlines and Walmart — typically recognized as part of the travel and service industries respectively — are securing their space in the technology arena.

“Data is the world’s greatest natural resource,” said Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO of IBM, at the CES 2019 opening keynote. And yet, of the 2.5 quatrillion bytes of data in the world today, it’s estimated that less than 1 percent is collected and analyzed. But leveraging deep data, the data not yet collected and analyzed, could address a variety of the problems the world is facing:

  • Diagnose Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia at an early stage.
  • Forecast hypoglycemia and diabetic changes in patients.
  • Forecast weather patterns and oncoming turbulence for planes.


Renowned companies Delta Airlines and Walmart are using deep data to revolutionize their approach to service.


Think Big, Start Small, Learn Fast: Delta and Data

Servicing 200 million passengers annually, Delta is committed to the customer experience.

On Delta’s emerging presence in the consumer technology space, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said, “People don’t think about airlines in that context, but [Delta is] really at not just a revitalization of, but a renaissance for the industry. Our goal is to make travel and flying something that customers don’t have to endure. We are doing that through innovation.”

In the past decade, Delta has shown how technology has improved its ability to provide efficient and effective care for customers. By using artificial intelligence in predictive maintenance technology, Delta was able to reduce maintenance flight cancellations from 5,600+ in 2010 to 55 in 2018.

“We have so much data about our customers. It’s about how we use that data to turn it into action for our employees to better serve our customers,” Bastian said.

Delta’s successes with technology include tracking bags in real time with RFID bag tag push notifications, allowing customers to pre-select in-flight options through an app and launching the first biometric terminal in the U.S. that incorporates facial recognition to ease airport access.

Our goal is to make travel and flying something that customers don’t have to endure. We are doing that through innovation.

Ed Bastian
CEO, Delta

The company was also recently certified as the first passenger carrier to carry cold pharma items, such as highly sensitive, critical-need medicine and vaccines. Blockchain integration allows full transparency for consumers about the location and status of the medicine they need and about its safety while in transit.

Looking ahead, as the company continues to grow as a brand that crosses the travel and service industry and the tech industry, Bastian spoke of tapping into the billions of data points to learn and advance Delta’s commitment to the customer.

From using deep data from airplanes to predict weather patterns and provide forecasts to prevent turbulence, to harnessing AI to provide real-time data on every single Delta flyer so that an agent has up-to-date data to immediately assist any customer, Delta is driving the next chapter of tech in service.

From Farm to Blockchain: Walmart’s Leafy Green Movement

Like it is for Delta, customer service is a major driving force for Walmart, whose 11,000 stores and 2.2 million associates prove the large-scale influence of the chain.

Partnering with innovators like IBM, Walmart is looking to address the pressure and challenges of food safety through technology.

“Our customers deserve safe products; they deserve to know where it comes from,” said Charles Redfield, executive vice president of food at Walmart. “Customers now more so than ever are turning products around to see the labels, educating themselves on where the products are from.”

Understanding that food safety issues have cost people their businesses and even their lives, Walmart set out to use blockchain to provide transparency into the history of their produce and build trust with their customers, starting with their leafy greens.

Blockchain has democratized the data about this food, allowing the Walmart food safety department to easily trace back their produce to its origins within 2.2 seconds, a dramatic improvement from the 7 days it took without the technology.

Our customers deserve safe products; they deserve to know where it comes from.

Charles Redfield
Executive Vice President of Food, Walmart

In the case of a food or produce recall, the speed at which the product can be traced back to its source will ultimately save suppliers money and ease customer distrust.

By October 2019, all Walmart suppliers of their leafy greens — lettuce, spinach, arugula and more — will be providing real-time traceability of their produce from the farm to the Walmart shelf through blockchain.

“It’s really created a shared value,” said Redfield of blockchain and the system of trust that it has built in food safety transparency.

Walmart is looking ahead to growth with blockchain in different commodities and different departments, building a foundation of confidence and trust in food safety through technology.

The increasing use of deep data will enable companies like Delta Airlines and Walmart to more efficiently and effectively drive their businesses, learning and growing from technology like artificial intelligence and blockchain.


Watch these two industry leaders discuss the future of customer service and tech with IBM’s Ginni Rometty on the CES 2019 keynote stage.

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