This is a guest post from Alida Miranda-Wolff, the Director of Platform at Hyde Park Angels.
Michael Small is a seasoned telecommunications executive and leader who is responsible for driving the operations, innovation, and success of in-flight internet company Gogo as its current President and CEO. At Hyde Park Angels, Michael leverages his extensive leadership experience and expertise in IOT and telecommunications to evaluate companies and understand the future of these industries.
In a recent episode of the HPA People First podcast, he explained why connecting planes to the Internet is so challenging, how IOT is disrupting almost every industry, and how company leaders need to transform their approach to accommodate the rapid rate of change with Managing Director Pete Wilkins.
At Gogo, the process of making in-flight internet to passengers is a complex one. Originally, Gogo was an air-to-ground network, but that didn’t allow for internet on overseas flights. To solve the global problem, Michael worked with his team to move to satellite networks from cell tower-based networks. The next challenge was that in the global aviation space, only aviation technicians could work with the physical planes, meaning Gogo’s teams could not touch them directly. As a result, they had to develop a unique supply chain strategy to get the right technology onto the planes. Finally, airlines aren’t inherently internet-savvy, so Gogo had to develop a software layer to interface with all airline systems that was easy to use. Despite all these challenges, Michael maintains that the biggest challenge for his business and all others is the extraordinary rate of change.
“There’s hardly a business where you can say the status quo holds at all. Rates like 5-10% annual improvement don’t cut it anymore. To really create an organization that can deal with rapid change, learn and improve in a structured systematic way is a really tough skill. The great companies now are the ones that figure that out,” said Michael.
This is an especially real problem today as technological advancement continues to shape nearly every element of business. The extreme proliferation of data is giving companies unseen insight into their customers, operations, performance, and much more.
“One of the reasons change is accelerating is definitely the internet of things. We are now connecting everything that happens on a plane, but now all of a sudden we can analyze data in aggregate and make decisions off of it. The ability to improve is accelerating at a rapid rate,” said Michael.
This shift in how fast we can make decisions as a result of access to data changes who makes decisions. A top-down structure doesn’t necessarily make sense when employees closer to the data and the problems it reveals touch it in real-time.
“The internet of things is going to increase the flow of information and ultimately the concept of being a leader. Empowering the people who are closest to the data to make the decision is increasingly important and is changing the way we need to lead,” said Michael.