Background

Cornerstone Information Systems (CIS) is a global SaaS technology provider that helps travel companies and corporate buyers do business more efficiently. CIS engaged AltexSoft to build 4site, a journey management tool, that allows travel agents to proactively respond to flight disruptions and recover their customers – business travelers – by rebooking the flights.

Business travel is particularly sensitive to flight disruptions as any delays can jeopardize critical meetings and negotiations. Traditionally, travel agents use the consoles of global distribution systems (GDSs) to find, book, or rebook flights for their customers. As GDSs usually don’t have visual interfaces and notification systems, the travel agents wouldn’t know about disruptions until their clients contact them directly from airports, when the schedule change is already underway. By then, rebooking opportunities for needed destinations keep dwindling as time flies by.

The core value of the 4site product is the ongoing, real-time data sourcing from GDSs. It allows travel agents to be notified about disruptions as early as possible ensuring the highest chances of rebooking and saving the client’s travel from disruption.

Challenges

The 4site service goal was the creation of a web dashboard for travel agents and a mobile application for travelers. The dashboard had to provide timely and critical information about flight disruptions. The mobile application was to be used to notify travelers about disruptions and provide a channel for live communication with agents. Building this set of services entailed the following challenges:

  • Provide intuitive UX and dynamic web interface
  • Build a scalable and cost-efficient architecture
  • Implement realistic disruption simulations to test the product

We’ve covered the design part in a dedicated Cornerstone 4site UX development case study.

Value Delivered

AltexSoft UX, mobile, and software engineering teams were challenged to build the entire SaaS solution from the ground up.
  • UX

    Consistent and Intuitive User Experience

    The team of five AltexSoft specialists, including UX designers, a software architect, and business analysts collaborated for two weeks with the client on-site to ensure better communication during the design phase. The UX design cycle included 1) requirements specification, 2) mapping roles and entities, 3) identifying user journeys, 4) making an MVP based on prototypes, 5) creating the final design. Now, with the implemented UX and UI design in place, the travel agents can message directly with their clients, see the dynamic map of airports and disruptions, track the alerts feed, and check their clients’ itineraries in real time including transfers, rail travel, and car rentals.
  • Updates

    Real-time Web Dashboard and Browser Notifications

    The web dashboard is fully asynchronous. As soon as a disruption happens, the travel agent sees an alert notification and can react to it. The web dashboard is built using the ReactJS library and the React Redux data processing framework. To make the messaging between agents and business travelers rapid, the team used the PubNub API, which allows the web environment to send messages to client apps directly, bypassing the server layer.
  • cloud cost savings

    Reduced infrastructure cost due to the cloud architecture

    The server-side architecture is deployed on the Amazon Lambda platform. The architectural pattern of the platform is resemblant of the microservices architecture and consists of the smallest independent functions – lambdas. The AltexSoft back-end team leveraged this design to build the Node.js system that provided high performance and scalability of the 4site solution.
  • disruption emulation in cloud

    Realistic disruption testing through emulation environment

    Traditionally, web products use testing servers to conduct all quality assurance procedures. As 4site is meant to utilize real-time data from GDSs about disruptions, the engineering team was challenged to emulate multiple disruption scenarios. The developers created an additional set of lambdas that allowed for imitating scenarios ranging from routine operations like aircraft take-offs, in-flight maneuvers, landings, and terminal changes to such disruptions as flight delays, cancellations, and diverts to the departure airports. The emulation ensured comprehensive testing of the 4site product within any disruption scenario.

Product UI

Approach and Technical Info

The 4site web dashboard UX was covered by two UX specialists and a business analyst. The front- and back-end were created by the dedicated team consisting of two Node.js back-end engineers, two front-end JavaScript developers, and two quality assurance experts. A software architect was partly engaged during cloud engineering operations.

The project required a complete mobile and web UX and UI design delivered by two UX and UI specialists.

The technology stack included: Node.js, AWS Lambda, ReactJS, React Redux, and PubNub API.

The web dashboard development was completed in 4 months. The overall 4site project, including elaboration phase and UX design, took 6 months.

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