Building Business Agility at Southwest Airlines
Jeanne W. Ross
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Center for Information Systems Research (CISR)
University of Texas at Austin - Department of Information, Risk and Operations Management
MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 4664-07
CISR Working Paper No. 369
Southwest Airlines has grown from upstart to the largest U.S. airline in terms of number of passengers flown while recording 34 consecutive years of profitability. Through most of those 34 years, Southwest management emphasized high touch rather than automation as critical to business success. Over time, however, Southwest employees introduced technology-based innovations to support key processes, including the industry's first paperless ticketing system and early entry into web-based applications. By 2002 then-CFO (and subsequently CEO) Gary Kelly recognized that IT would be important to meeting the company's strategic objectives. He initiated a business transformation that relied on building a strong IT foundation. This case describes the IT and business changes Southwest introduced to help the company succeed in its increasingly competitive environment.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 17
Keywords: Enterprise architecture, business transformation, IT managementworking papers series
Date posted: October 14, 2007
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