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It Staff Work For Free To Save Ba

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Work for free techies help save British Airways

IT staff at British Airways (BA) have saved the company more than £2m by working for free or taking unpaid leave amid forecasts of a slump in airline IT spend this year.

Techies were credited by BA CEO Willie Walsh for being among the 7,000 of BA's 40,000 staff who cut back on hours or pay to help the company through the credit crunch.

BA CIO Paul Coby said there has been a "significant reduction" in manpower within BA's IT team and its services department, which handles business intelligence, financial shared services and property.

"It is a significant reduction in terms of not having people around so you have to prioritise: if you have a critical system, it is not going to be sensible to let all three people supporting it take unpaid leave at the same time," he said.

IT already helping BA financially..

According to Coby, the introduction of technologies including IP telephony and more efficient Linux-based datacentres have helped the airline reduce its operational IT spend by 45 per cent since he joined the airline as CIO in 2001.

CEO Walsh added a proposed merger with Spanish airline Iberia would also allow both carriers to cut their IT costs.

"I am convinced that BA and Iberia will get together and we will look to a common IT platform, because that will be a critical issue in terms of facilitating integration and cost reduction," he said.

BA is already realising savings using business intelligence, which has helped it spot and stop people from scamming free airline tickets by setting themselves up as fake travel agents as well as preventing marketing material being sent to the same person more than once.

The airline is also looking to its BA.com website to save money and generate extra revenue at little cost, for example, by allowing travellers to buy entire holidays, including services such as car hire and hotel booking through the site.

The holiday bookings have been made possible by the development of service orientated architecture (SOA) hubs, which allowed information to be shared between BA's systems and those of companies offering car hire or hotel bookings.

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"It is a significant reduction in terms of not having people around so you have to prioritise: if you have a critical system, it is not going to be sensible to let all three people supporting it take unpaid leave at the same time," he said

If you are not being paid to work, what the hell, you should be able to take the time it suits you, not the employer. Can't be that much of a critical system if you are telling the staff they need to work for free.

IT staff have a lot more power than drivers/oil workers in many ways, and responsibility, skills and pressure far in excess of the average banker.

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IT is a strange world. Pretty-much all the best software is free[1], and falls outside the confines of producing what the boss asked for. I expect there might be some quid pro quo where unpaid developers help themselves to extra freedom.

[1] That's free as in free speech, not (except by coincidence) free as in free beer[2].

[2] But it's often also free as in beer, which can tend to confuse non-IT people.

Edited by porca misèria

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Guest DissipatedYouthIsValuable
IT is a strange world. Pretty-much all the best software is free[1], and falls outside the confines of producing what the boss asked for. I expect there might be some quid pro quo where unpaid developers help themselves to extra freedom.

[1] That's free as in free speech, not (except by coincidence) free as in free beer[2].

[2] But it's often also free as in beer, which can tend to confuse non-IT people.

Some big commercial software companies prefer to sell you a cripple first, then add one crutch at a time as an upgrade, with the offer of legs at premium rate.

Free software usually comes from relatively unherded geeks just geeking out to stuff they enjoy doing.

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IT is a strange world. Pretty-much all the best software is free[1], and falls outside the confines of producing what the boss asked for. I expect there might be some quid pro quo where unpaid developers help themselves to extra freedom.

[1] That's free as in free speech, not (except by coincidence) free as in free beer[2].

[2] But it's often also free as in beer, which can tend to confuse non-IT people.

Not sure that the best software is free actually. There may well be competitors to Excel spreadsheets, Oracle databases, Photoshop in the opensource world, but I wouldn't call them better. Well better-suited to non-corporate users, maybe.

Also open source software is often free in the same sense BBC or ITV or parts of Sky is free. It's paid for, or subsidised, in different ways, that's all. I'm not knocking this - I'm a user of Linux, Mysql, Perl etc.

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Guest DissipatedYouthIsValuable
Not sure that the best software is free actually. There may well be competitors to Excel spreadsheets, Oracle databases, Photoshop in the opensource world, but I wouldn't call them better. Well better-suited to non-corporate users, maybe.

Also open source software is often free in the same sense BBC or ITV or parts of Sky is free. It's paid for, or subsidised, in different ways, that's all. I'm not knocking this - I'm a user of Linux, Mysql, Perl etc.

Isn't Oracle a bit less feature laden than PostgreSQL?

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Pretty-much all the best software is free[1], and falls outside the confines of producing what the boss asked for.

Which is fine when you're talking about generic stuff, but rather falls on it's **** when it comes to bespoke stuff. The gubbins I'm working on at the moment would never make it into existance if it was free (in either sense), as it's just far too task-specific.

Or to put it another way, it's one thing to offer a 'free' operating system, and quite something else to offer, say, free control and monitoring software for milking parlours.

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Which is fine when you're talking about generic stuff, but rather falls on it's **** when it comes to bespoke stuff. The gubbins I'm working on at the moment would never make it into existance if it was free (in either sense), as it's just far too task-specific.

Or to put it another way, it's one thing to offer a 'free' operating system, and quite something else to offer, say, free control and monitoring software for milking parlours.

That sounds like a half hour job with an 8 bit PIC.

I hope you're not charging more than a fiver for the system?

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All very nice to hear that BA are saving on IT costs etc. But they are still way too expensive to fly with.

I'm doing a Nice-London business trip this week.

BA = £850 (the return part of the flight was quoted at nearly £700 :o )

Easyjet = £160 (return part of flight is £110).

Both flights leave in the evening. BA from Heathrow, EZ from Luton.

This is an extreme case, but even outwith the summer months BA still quotes 50-300% more than it's rivals.

That's an expensive in-flight meal............... :rolleyes:

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Isn't Oracle a bit less feature laden than PostgreSQL?

Dunno about that. But having worked with both, I know PostgreSQL is well-documented and works as specified in the docs, whereas Oracle's programmer (API) documentation required me to jump through hoops to get access to, and then proved to be largely a work of fiction.

As for where free software is the norm, try finding a non-free Internet application that isn't a MeToo imitation of an earlier free application.

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Which is fine when you're talking about generic stuff, but rather falls on it's **** when it comes to bespoke stuff. The gubbins I'm working on at the moment would never make it into existance if it was free (in either sense), as it's just far too task-specific.

Or to put it another way, it's one thing to offer a 'free' operating system, and quite something else to offer, say, free control and monitoring software for milking parlours.

You're missing the point.

Writing task-specific applications is always going to be necessary: it's a regular developer-job. I've done my fair share of it.

But should those applications be free? They may have nothing to gain up-front, if noone else is interested. But longer-term, the end-user needs to protect their investment.

  • The very worst nightmare scenario is an inflexible and buggy system that cannot be maintained after the original developer has moved on. That can happen even when you bought from a big company you thought was making a long-term commitment.

  • The best scenario is a thriving developer community who will maintain a system and respond to support needs. That's where "generic" products score well: lots of people are interested enough to participate.

  • If you can't have a full-blown dev community, you should at least have a maintainable software base. Full openness is your best protection against a complete botch-job. Even if noone else takes an interest, the mere possibility of it will concentrate your developer's mind.

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Guest DissipatedYouthIsValuable
I'm not writing that system ;)

If you're doing the NHS system, see how many doctors you can drive completely mad by taking a common default interface behaviour likely to be used with nearly every consultation and dropping it down a few levels in a contextual submenu with a non-obvious name.

Or find a paper process such as blood result reporting, watch the ease with which a man with a pen can go through the pile of results, writing 'normal' or 'needs urgent appointment' on the pieces of paper and then hand the pile to admin staff to contact patients. Having observed this process, see if you can replace it with a real, genuine torture.

We love that.

Edited by DissipatedYouthIsValuable

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Not sure that the best software is free actually. There may well be competitors to Excel spreadsheets, Oracle databases, Photoshop in the opensource world, but I wouldn't call them better. Well better-suited to non-corporate users, maybe.

You pay for software?

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The very worst nightmare scenario is an inflexible and buggy system that cannot be maintained after the original developer has moved on. That can happen even when you bought from a big company you thought was making a long-term commitment.

Oh, absolutely. However, given the extremely variable quality of open source software over the years, it would be a brave man who'd claim there's an additional level of magic to the whole community dev system that eliminates that risk.

The best scenario is a thriving developer community who will maintain a system and respond to support needs. That's where "generic" products score well: lots of people are interested enough to participate.

I completely agree when it comes to generic, free-to-use stuff. The whole open source dev community system can work very well under those conditions, partly because the numbers required are available, and partly because all the additional non-source information required is available.

If you can't have a full-blown dev community, you should at least have a maintainable software base. Full openness is your best protection against a complete botch-job. Even if noone else takes an interest, the mere possibility of it will concentrate your developer's mind.

The problem here is full openness is, in many cases, never going to be possible. There'll be business logic in there that clients may well be extremely reluctant to allow into the public domain (e.g. "Hey, here's exactly how our pricing works"), and the chances of getting real test data are, for the most part, precisely zero. In short, open source is one thing, open company is something entirely different.

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You pay for software?

When it isn't free, yes, most of us do, it's the law. Although personally I use free versions where appropriate. It's still so sad that many of low moral fibre have no qualms about breaking the law. They don't even think it is wrong. I've given up arguing with people on this one, save it for the judge when they finally catch up with you.

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Ive flown with B.A. on several occasions. Their staff are rude and unhelpful. The flights over-priced. The seats/leg room the worst of any long haul carrier.

Some things aint worth saving.

Let them go bankrupt and a better airline will take its place.

Hooray to the downfall of B.A.

If you fly long haul to asia, try Thai airlines. Even in cattle class the service, comfort etc was very very good.

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Ive flown with B.A. on several occasions. Their staff are rude and unhelpful. The flights over-priced. The seats/leg room the worst of any long haul carrier.

Some things aint worth saving.

Let them go bankrupt and a better airline will take its place.

Hooray to the downfall of B.A.

If you fly long haul to asia, try Thai airlines. Even in cattle class the service, comfort etc was very very good.

I'm sure BA staff and their families wish you all the best as well...

IT staff at BA working for free...ha ha me thinks not. The majority of IT staff at BA are not particularly skilled and the contractors do the most of the work.

Flight pricing read up on revenue management. They won't always be the cheapest but it is dependent on the market at that particular time. They can't compete on price with some carriers due their heavily unionised, legacy cost workforce.

Having flown all over the world with various airlines I can promise you BA are definitely not the worst but appreciate Middle Eastern are good (money no object) and Far Eastern are very customer focused (cultural). Now let's talk North American airlines...

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