Happy New Year, Time for a Cornerstone Update!
Cornerstone Information Systems held a webinar for all of our customers to discuss live update about our products, services, and recent successes. Key Cornerstone representatives discussed our ongoing Product Roadmap and some exciting additions rounding out the newest in Cornerstone Data Strategy.
7:04 Workflow Roadmap
17:08 Data and Digital Products Roadmap
23:58 iBank and Hub Roadmap
Welcome back, everybody. We’ve got Dan Kroger with us today, the EVP, Project Management and Engineering. Next, we’ll be hearing from Mark Abdoo, Vice President of Product Management, Travel Operations Platform. We’ve also got Josh Campbell with us here, Senior Director of Project Management. And we’re going to end here with Brad Watts, Vice President of Digital Products and Analytics. Now, I know we’ve got a lot to cover in today’s presentation. So, Dan, I’m going to go ahead and give it to you. and start off.
Okay. Awesome. So, I’ll take a little bit of time here to go through, objectives, and then I’ll kind of hand it off to each of the product managers, business owners to walk through kind of their section of what we are looking to accomplish.
And then hopefully we’ll have a little bit of time there at the end to finish with Q and A. So Lierin, if you want to move on here. So first as we’ve done kind of in the past, a few meetings like this, I kind of give a list of what our driving objectives are for kind of the year. A lot of these you will see overlap if you were able to attend kind of the last webinar we did at the end of 2023, which I think may have been in September, October timeframe. But what we have found is the strategy generally is right and we’ve kind of honed some of our thoughts around that. So the ordering may be a little bit different.
So the first kind of major objective is around data. You know, other meetings we’ve been in, you know, from different clients, I’ve heard data, data, data, right? Everything in everyone’s mind is around data and how you can use it to help drive your decisions. So we’ve really added a focus to this over the last eight, nine, 12 months. We hired Brad Watts who will be talking here again in a little bit to kind of go through where we’re at standing up our data platform and kind of a roadmap forward. But why is data so important? One is the fragmentation of the market. There’s a lot of different sources, a lot of different places to get data now. It’s no longer just good enough to consume data from the GDS.
You’ve got NDC transactions, you’ve got off channel bookings, you’ve got back office data, you’ve got expense credit card, payment data, even data sources that live within your ecosystem, and trying to make sense of all of that data is difficult so we’re standing up a data platform that will do a couple different things. One, kind of consolidate that data to allow you to make business decisions, but more importantly, provide a good, clean, standard data set and by clean, it is, you know, making sure fields are in the right format, contain the right types of data. understanding when things are not right in that clean data, and then providing some type of normalization and standardization around that data as well. You know, some of the use cases around this, as I mentioned, is to drive kind of your own insights, but then also future things.
AI, you know, we all hear about AI and, you know, all of the different functions that it can provide, but it still needs data and it needs good quality, clean data. So that’s one of the major objectives and kind of our, Our major focus here for 2024 is around data. Another area that we’ve talked about in the past is our overall workflow and continuing to do enhancements to our IQCX platform. Over the past year, we’ve done a lot around our ticketing modules. We’ve done a lot around our commissions and general performance, and we’ll continue to build out those functions here in 2024. You know, we are also looking at other ways to handle NDC transactions or off-channel bookings through our workflow platform. So enhancements to our policy compliance platform, to TicketTrack, to SCM will be a focus here to handle kind of those new transactions and new data types.
Another area around with the workflow is kind of on integrations, and by that I mostly mean APIs. Our ability to help drive data into downline systems We have increasingly seen that a lot of our customers have a lot of different systems that they try to stitch together. Our ability to facilitate moving data from system to system I think is important. We’re also looking to stand up an open API on our workflow platform. This allows you to do better integrations within your systems. We’ve done this a little bit in the past around document delivery and proof of concept around sending an itinerary. through an API or resending an itinerary. We have APIs around ticket track and being able to pull back unused tickets real time to help the booking tools.
We’ll look to build out that stack, how we can provide an interface to general QC, and I know Mark will talk about that here in a little bit as well. Then the last area there around integrations is our data connector. and being able to take these additional sources of data as it goes through our data platform is cleaned, and being able to send to other systems like risk providers, right? Think of it kind of as a bulk send, you know, all of your transaction data, but a consistent look, a consistent feel to all of that data and really integrating the downline systems. So, you know, even within that kind of bullet point there, it’s still a lot about data. But then the last area that we’re focused on is kind of around new UI, UX, new self-service, lots of configurability to our systems.
Within the data platform itself, we’re looking at how do we provide additional reports? You know, a lot of people have on their mind, you know, iBank, kind of the look and feel, the reports. And Josh will talk a little bit kind of about our direction of that here as we move along today. But trying to find a new way with the new data sets we have to provide that. Allowing self-service into some of our products, allowing different configurations within our PCM product to make that easier to configure, to allow different configurations from the TicketTrack product. Just a consistent look and feel across both the IQCX and workflow data. And then finally is around kind of operations and providing kind of metrics around how our systems are performing quicker troubleshooting. All of those will be in kind of the new cornerstone hub and have a consistent ui ux feel to them. So those are kind of the major objectives for 2024. So now i’ll kind of hand it off to the product manager, starting with mark to kind of go through each of the areas. And I think we’ll start with the workflow side. All right. Thank you, Dan. Lauren, if you’ll go ahead and advance the slides here. I think I have just two slides here. First is just a quick recap of what we did since we did our last webinar, I believe was in September. So since that time, we have done quite a bit of work on our new QMonitor application.
What we have in place today is we pulled queue counting out of our scheduler, out of our schedules that operate. We pulled it out and we are now processing queue counts in a separate service. Why did we do that? We did that because we experienced, oh, probably 80% to 85% of the schedules that run within our enterprise, IQCX schedules, ticketing schedules, the like, are all running. The schedule starts up, does a queue count, finds nothing on queue, and has to go back to sleep. Quite a bit of overhead to that process. So by extracting that queue counting, external of those schedules, we’ve been able to scheduler to peer into the counts that we’re doing and not have to start up a schedule just to find out there’s zero on cue.
Thus far, very successful for us. We’ve reduced our overall CPU consumption on our infrastructure by 60% with that. And that is just really sort of scraping the surface. We’ve got a bit more enhancements to talk about on that, and I’ll get to that when we move on to what’s happening in Q1. Another bit of activity over the last quarter or so was with Sabre Web Services building out an automated exchange process. Amadeus, Travelport have a fairly simple to use. I won’t say simple, but simple to use UI point of sale tool for handling automated exchanges.
The Sabre process, very agent intensive. And so we’re working on building that capability into our ticketing component. And we’ll be continuing that work to build out a library to support automated exchanges. Dan mentioned our content connector. Content connector today comes in two sides. There’s the input of content and there’s the output of content. We worked on several connectors. We’ve completed our connector for NDC content to connect in and be processed through our PCI I’m sorry, excuse me, PCM, Policy Compliance Manager tool. That spins up as we have an API, as that message comes in with an NDC trip, that spins up an event that triggers a schedule to run to execute through our PCM process. We also completed an input connector for both handling AC Air Canada content through Fairnexus AC connects tool as well as their Nexus wind tool the AC connects is specifically for Air Canada Nexus wind supports other airlines, Direct Connect, for NDC content.
And so we can take now data coming through Nexus Wind or AC Connect. On the outbound side, we completed development for a back office system, TravComp specifically. So now we can take data that’s coming in, typically that Nexus Wind data, NDC content coming in, We can get that into the IQCX platform. We can, because it’s in the platform, we can put process on it, enrich data, whatever. But now we also have the capability to take that content and push it to the back office, specifically to TravCom. And then the last bit there for IQCX ticketing, we have completed out our development for Sabre web services ticketing. And we have also done a lot of work on Galileo for IQCX ticketing.
And more to come on that later. And I think you can jump to the next slide.
Okay. Coming up, queue one, queue two, queue monitor, more work there. So we have our back end service. It’s operational. We’re counting queues. Our schedules are operating off of those queues. Coming up here, we are developing out a user interface for queue monitor. Within that user interface, you will be able to see now what those queue counts look like from a trending perspective, where those queue counts going up, down over time, as well as we’ll introduce the ability to put alerting on those counts as well, establish a threshold using our EDA or event-driven actions capability to be able to alert when queues get up to a specific level.
And you’ll be able to see an overlay of the queue counts, our schedule processing, and those alerts, and kind of have a full picture of what that looks like. Our TicketTrack application, we are also putting a self-service front end, a UI on TicketTrack. Phase one of this will be a read-only version, be able to see what that TicketTrack configuration looks like. And then a fast follow on to that, you’ll be able to modify that configuration all within our UI. And then the final stage of that will be actually being able to enable turn ticket track on integrated into an existing workflow all through our UI and really speed up the implementation process and not require engagement with our professional services team to do that, but, truly be able to have self service.
The point there is that we want to enable self service, uh, for all of our products. TicketTrack is a real easy, uh, way for us to get started on that. Sabre web services, automated exchanges. I’ve talked about that, uh, the work we’ve done. And we’ll continue to do that, getting the library side and really putting a product wrapper around the capabilities there. The last piece, API functionality. As I mentioned, we have API functionality to take data in, spin up, or identify a schedule that needs to be run on a particular process. What we’re looking to do next, is enhance those capabilities, not just be able to identify and sort of instant schedule, if you will, functionality, but eventually be able to actually execute functionality through an API call.
Today, what we do is we can take data in through an API and get it ready for a schedule to process, and that happens and sort of an asynchronous process. We are actually looking to synchronize so that you can make an API call, execute some functionality, and get the results back as a return within that API call as opposed to having to do a callback. In addition to that, we’re also looking to add not just the execution of services, but also the ability to pull data through an API. You can do that today, pulling ticket track data out through an API. We want to be able to expand that and allow other data to be retrieved through that same API set. I think that covers it for me, so I’m going to pass that on.
I think I met my time constraints, maybe went a little over. Sounds good. Thank you very much, Mark. We’ve got Brad. Thank you. So Dan did a great job describing kind of the omni-channel point of view that we have pre-trip. But part of thinking about that is whether you’re a consumer, a supplier, a buyer, a seller, not only do you have that omni-channel, but you require that data to make a business decision, to make a decision about your travel. And then once you make the decision, you create a new set of data that goes back into the channel that we need to track. Can you guys hear me? Yep, we can hear you just fine. Okay. Too many meetings this morning. Then once you’re on the trip, you’re recording different expense submissions and you’ve actually introduced another set of channels of data that has to come in.
to various systems. And the ultimate goal for everyone is post-trip. We want to see a consolidated view of all of that data. Next slide. Thank you. So Cornerstone’s vision and how we’re attacking this is in four parts. One, we’ve introduced new technology stack. So technology is not a constraint for us from a data management standpoint. The first thing we’re doing with data management is integrating multiple data sources. So we’ve got an extract, load, transform kind of view that allows us to get to multiple sources of data, consolidate them so that we can pass it to our data services area. Data services is about taking all those different data sources, doing anomaly detection, creating data scorecards so that we know what data we have and in what state.
And then creating a robust master data set. Things like hotel name normalization are things we’re attacking in that space. Once we’ve got all that data normalized and scored, we feel confident. Then when we go to our data insights platform, which we attack in two different ways. One is customer data. Think of that as those column row data sets that you need to pass on to your business processes so that they work well. And then a business insights view. That is more targeted towards creating predictive analytics and data visualizations that allow you to look into the future and guide where you want to take your travel needs. And then the last piece, and Josh will talk a little bit about this too, is using all of that data that we’ve brought through the platform to then drive actions, both for you looking at the data to make actions, but really to automate those actions that you need to do. Next slide. So we’ll talk about that journey. We talked about this, I think, on the last webinar. But Q1, we’ve got the data management platform stood up. So that’s both data acquisition and that’s what we call our data model incubator.
That’s all our data modeling to take that data and put it together in a way that we can use it. Q2, we’re working on now. So that’s data services. So that’s the data dictionary. That’s the data scoring. That’s pulling all that data together. So the goal will have that out first round in June for availability. Data exchange platform. So part of the data services we want to do is, sorry we’re still on back but part of the, part of the things we want to do is for those that have a robust bi team, we want to allow you access to the data lake so it’s a, so it acts as a part of your data lake or your bi system. So you can have direct access to those tables with your data and master data to include as part of your business platform. Q3 is the business insights. data insights piece so that’s the customer insights platform we’re looking at a a revamp uh revitalization of our ibank platform just from a ui ux standpoint um and then the same piece that goes with travel optics trying to then leverage all the data sets that we’re using the data management platform but but allow travel optics to have access to that and then a little bit before q4 but we’ll put q4 out there is. As the data flows into any of these processes, it then becomes available for event-driven actions. And the same goes for the customer insights platform. This isn’t something that we’re trying to build this robust system and we’re waiting to the very end to roll it out. Each time we get a new data set, each time we get a new data model, we are going to make that available. In this case, even though you see these quarterly deliverables, it’s really an agile process. Every time we get a new set of data that we think will be useful for our customers, it gets added in and rolled out. Then the last two slides, I just wanted to give a little bit of UX, UI, kind of where we want to go.
So platform that we’ll introduce, it’s a little bit more Excel-like. It acts and feels like Excel. It allows you to build things in the same way, but it has a direct connection to our instance in the back. In this case, I’m just showing a little bit of just building a simple sheet with a couple of pivot tables. Makes it super easy for the consumer to create what they need instantaneously. But it also allows you on the next slide to take those same data sets and create quick data visualizations that sit with the with the column data. So kind of the goal of our user experience is to give you a little bit of the best of both worlds. Create visualizations for your customers, as well as create your data sets that you need for your business processes.
And with that, I will pass it to Josh. Hey, thanks, Brad. I appreciate that. So we’ll take a look at some of the things that we were able to accomplish towards the end of 2023. Talk about iBank a little bit. So in the iBank platform, we were able to make some updates for the carbon emissions that we use for calculating CO2 in reporting. So those were updated to use the UK’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. So the latest factors that they’ve published, we are now using those in the underlying calculations in iBank for reporting. So that was a nice update there. Several user experience updates we did in iBank. Many of those touched the authorization solution we have, policy compliance manager, Mark mentioned that earlier, PCM.
Some of those, many of those pages anyways, I should say, are hosted on iBank platform, you know, you know, make some improvements there. And one exciting thing too, I should say is, well, it’s actually on the slide here, SSO to iBank. So we’ve had a handful of customers step up and implement SSO, which is really, really great. We released that some months back. It’s really exciting to see more clients taking advantage of that feature. Some even very recently mentioning how much they enjoy using the SSO feature there in iBank. So that’s a great way to go from, an employee portal, for example, right into iBank, seamless authentication. It’s a great experience. So hopefully many more will take advantage of that. But it’s exciting nonetheless to see more and more people taking that on.
Some hub updates. So that kind of falls under workflow and event-driven actions there. So with the hub, we have about five customers right now, five users in the hub under a beta agreement. We’re excited about that. We’re getting good feedback. We’ve made some adjustments, some changes in the hub based on that feedback, and that’s exciting. We love having our clients help shape our products to give us guidance in that way. We did make some, well, we made a lot of changes and enhancements to the hub. Some notable ones were the activity log. We updated that to include things related to SSO, in fact. So, for example, SSO logins and things of this nature. We made some improvements to the contextual help throughout the hub.
Main navigation, left side menu, you can now collapse and expand if you like. And we’ve actually switched all of our tables, or table viewers, if you want to call it that, to a new component. It’ll have a similar table-like view, but it brings a lot more functionality, which you’ll enjoy when you’re using those. Workflow tables, so we continue to do a lot of work on workflow tables. With logs, with schedules, settings like overflow processing configurations, We made a lot of UX improvements. For example, the ability to search by schedule ID in the schedule settings. You can also, or I should say, when the IQCX account ID is chosen or selected from the menu, it remains selected as you navigate, which seems like a small thing, but it’s a tremendous impact on the experience for the user.
And so we continue to work on and enhance workflow tables. Event-driven actions, EDA. We’ve done a lot of work there. One example would be we made an enhancement technically to one of the actions, but it’s tied to an event. So one of the events that we have today in EDA is a workflow table upload failed. Workflow table upload failed. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but a user goes into the hub, into a workflow table, they upload a CSV file. For one reason or another, that upload fails. Okay, so this is one of the events that you could use in an EDA. The only action available at the moment is a notification, email notification. So that’s the part where we made a bit of enhancement here.
When that fails, it’s really for two reasons. Well, one specific reason and one that’s a bit more broad and difficult to identify within the hub. One would be data validation. So you have a data validation set up for the workflow table. It fails. Maybe it was… supposed to be formatted as what we call floating point or a money field, and it was not, or maybe supposed to be formatted as an email. It was not the value. That creates an error. We were not going to allow that to upload. Very easy to identify. Another one could be the csv is corrupted or some other reason that we could not process the file. So when that happens, either of those two scenarios, the email will go out, but the recipient of that EDA, right, in this case, an email notification uh when it is, that’s to say it was a data validation error, in the email body, we’re going to mention the reason, not mean for data validation requirements, and we’ll even mention the specific reason for that, what validation failed, as an example, right? And in the second case, since we’re unable to know what was the real cause, we’ll just tell you that it was failed, we encountered an error, please try again. But we made some enhancements there just so we can provide more clarity when that action is triggered by that event, right? Okay, well, let’s talk about Q1 and Q2. We’ll talk about some of the EDA and that as well. So things we’re doing now and will be doing in the near future. Reporting, Brad talked about that a good bit.
So we’re going to be working on outputs and embedded metrics and even the ability to schedule delivery of those. Specifically, we want to focus on program metrics, some operation, We’re gonna take a good bit of time to dig into hotel and even CO2 sustainability, that latter one with a bit of a focus on rail. What’s the point? Well, I would say in short, we want to look at core functionality that’s in iBink. We want to take that and we want to improve and enhance that in the data platform and then take that and embed it into the hub. So we’re super excited about that initiative that is getting started now and we’re, yeah, looking forward to being able to show some of that off very soon.
Table Connector. So Table Connector is something we have been working on. That is, I should step back for a moment. What is the Table Connector? That’s a feature in which we could, a user could fully automate the capture and the upload of data to a workflow table. So you go out, capture a file, take that, upload it into a workflow table, completely automated. Super cool feature. So we’re looking right now, we’re still working on that, but we’re looking to get that available for a beta very soon, ideally Q1. Our objective is to get that into a production release for Q2. EDA, Event Driven Actions, talked about that already a bit, development is ongoing. But one really, really exciting thing I think that’s coming up in about two weeks is a focus group.
So we have a focus group scheduled. with several of our customers, and we’re gonna talk about various events and actions that we are looking to develop and finding out where is the priority, where is the value, and we’re gonna chase after that. What’s the objective? I mentioned that actually earlier when we were talking about the objective is to get our clients to give us feedback, to give us guidance, as we continue to develop. So we can develop tools, features, and products that you want to use. With regard to that focus group, it’s creating more events, more actions, there go more EDAs, packaging that up into a beta, getting our users’ ability to utilize that, get feedback, and get that to a general release.
One final thing here, UI and UX enhancements. I’m sorry, I’m going a little bit over, I think, here. You want to have… many UI updates into the hub, and we are making right now improvements to the back end. That’s to enhance a bit the user experience, speed, things like that. And we’re on track now in the design phase still, but we’re on track to get a completely new UI for EDA available in Q2, and there’ll be some more general updates in Q2 with regard to branding. Okay, that’s all I got, Lear, and I give it back to you. No, you’re good, Josh. We actually, we have 10 minutes now for questions and answers. Let me go ahead and bring up my Q&A slide.
And I do have a couple of questions that have been submitted. Just as a reminder, everybody, if you do have questions, there is a chat box. You can submit your question there and we will, well, I will go ahead and read it off to the panel. So first question, When will the hub be available for everybody? That’s a very good question. Yeah, so we’re working really hard to try to get the hub into a proper beta this quarter. That’s to say Q1. We do have customers already in beta, right? If you’d like to participate, I would say speak to your account manager. We’d love to have you in there and get your feedback. The overall objective would be to get the hub into a place where in Q2 we could get that into
general release. That’s our objective, yeah. Cool.
I think this one’s also for Josh. How do I activate SSO for iBank for my organization? Okay, yeah, fantastic question. So I would start with an account manager, right? So there’s some things we’ll have to do. I don’t want to get too technical at this moment, but there’s a few little configurations that would be done with the internet, the identity provider that you’re using or that your client is using. we would do a little bit of configuration on our end, and then it’s set up. And then you can add users to that. Of course, that would be in your identity provider. So if you’re using Okta or some other service for that identity provider, then you add users, take away users as you will, and they would have access into IB.
But start with account management, and then we’ll get you settled. Awesome. Thank you. Let’s see. Next question is, what is the roadmap regarding NDC auto ticketing? Who wants it? Dan doesn’t seem to want to answer that. I was trying to find you, but I was going to pass it to you, Mark, since you’re already there. Excuse me. So we are continuing to research and work with each of the GDSs to identify on the GDS side what capabilities they have. for fulfilling NDC orders. And then we are also independently continuing to work with providers like Fair Nexus and their Nexus Win tool in terms of what services are available to do that fulfillment. Our roadmap puts that out a bit. probably looking at Q3 for complete our discovery and be able to make available whatever services we’re able to make available at that point.
But still under discovery in terms of what services are available through the channels that we are are currently getting NDC’d in. Excellent, thank you. Let’s see, next question is, when will I be able to use the event-driven actions table?
Event-driven actions, yeah, that’s a good question as well. So, from a general release, we’ll be looking at quarter three, Q3. We have a few customers using that in a limited beta right now. We’d like to bring on more probably Q2 and then get the proper release in Q3. Cool. I have a comment here. Mark from Annette saying NDC fulfillment is in production for Amadeus Web. If that helps. Let me see, I’m looking through, does anyone else have any questions? I don’t have any others right now, but we do still have a couple of minutes.
And gentlemen, if there’s anything else that you would like to remind people of or to shine a final spotlight on, I think now’s the time. No, I mean, I think we’re excited about where we’re headed here in 2024. I think a lot of what Brad is doing on the data side and standing up this data platform will allow us to adjust and develop faster than we have in the past. You know, this new technology stack kind of best in breed in the industry, across industries, you know, will really help us be able to make sense of data. Standing up the hub, new interface will allow us to build interfaces easier. and hopefully things be more configurable than they have been in the past.
So very excited. You know, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your account executive. We’re happy to get on another call, go deeper dive into the data platform or anything on the workflow side. You know, really want to try to work with our customers, support them in any automations workflow data needs that they may have. Excellent. Thank you. And if you guys need our contact information, those are the emails of everyone who’s been on the panel today. And there will be a recording of this session sent out afterwards along with a transcript. And, yeah, it looks like we don’t have any other questions coming in. So thank you, everybody, for attending. And thank you to our panel for giving the presentation today.
Thank you, Lierin. Thank you. Have a good day, everybody.