Adopting low code solutions to accelerate innovation at Changi Airport Group

Feb 2023

By Genevieve Chan


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Have you ever encountered an opportunity to make things easier in your daily life or work and thought “Someone should make an app for that.” At Changi Airport Group (CAG), staff are being empowered with the resources to say “We could make an app for that.”

Key to this mindset shift is the adoption of low code programming across the organisation over the last two years. Low code programming, simply put, is coding using a ‘drag-and-drop’ graphical user interface. Programmers can “see” the final product as it is being built, instead of typing in programme codes line by line, which is not intuitive for those who have no background in traditional coding languages. The simplicity of development also means that an app can be developed in weeks instead of months, or sometimes even days! This allows business needs to be quickly addressed and speeds up the implementation of innovation in work processes.

Driving and championing the adoption of low code programming at CAG is Chong Chan Meng, Vice President of Organisation Transformation, who heads a team that has been set up to accelerate innovation in CAG. Chan Meng’s team effectively operates a “Digital Kitchen”, where staff can approach in-house low code programming experts with the ingredients for an app or workflow automation idea, then partner them to refine the idea and bring it to life.


Chan Meng (second from left) with the members from his team. From left to right: Lim Chun Hui, Liu Zihe, and Audrey Tan


Chan Meng views this partnership with professional developers as a more sustainable way of ensuring that low code solutions continue to flourish at CAG. “While it’s important for staff to have an understanding of how low code works and take ownership of the product conceptualisation and direction, they are not full-time developers with technical know-how. Hence, partnering our in-house low code developers can ensure the robustness and longevity of a business app. At the same time, staff working alongside our low code developers pick up valuable digital skills, like learning how to design the wireframe for an app.”

Since the introduction of CAG’s low code programme in 2020, over 45 solutions have been developed and deployed for daily use in the organisation, to help streamline processes via automation or data integration, to increase productivity. With these low code solutions in place, it is estimated that CAG saved more than 5,000 total man hours annually! This works out to over 600 man-days put to other productive uses.

An example of a low code programme that has been developed in-house and successfully deployed is the Changi Lounge app. This point-of-sale (POS) system for the pay-per-use lounge at Jewel was created using Power Apps, Microsoft’s low code app development platform.


After guests select and pay for their lounge package at the reception, the counter staff registers them using the Changi Lounge app. Subsequently, when the guest places an order, staff simply selects from a dropdown list to automatically check the order off from the guest’s F&B entitlement. At the backend, the inventory of stock is also updated simultaneously.


Originally built to serve travellers, the Changi Lounge at Jewel saw their main customer segment largely disappear during the pandemic. In a bid to pivot the business swiftly, Changi Lounge set its sights on locals instead, transforming the lounge into a co-working space. Customers could choose from packages of varying duration, each with its own food and drink entitlements.

As most POS solutions on the market were either too costly or not customisable, the team’s initial solution was to use a spreadsheet to keep track of guests’ usage of package entitlements, including the duration of their stay and whether they had consumed their refreshment quota. However, this tracking method proved to be too time consuming and created a high possibility of incorrect data entry.

The lounge operators from CAG’s Airport Operations team approached Chan Meng’s team, who worked with them to understand their requirements and visited the lounge to witness operational flows and user behaviour. Thanks to the simplicity of low code, turnaround was speedy - in just two months, a first version of the app was produced.

The app received positive reviews from lounge staff as it greatly streamlined operations. Its graphical, click-to-select interface and integration with backend data reduced human error and allowed for easy management of guest registration, F&B orders, and inventory keeping.

Other low code apps that have been developed and deployed at CAG over the last two years include an onboarding platform for iShopChangi merchants,  as well as a health app for staff to participate in wellness events and keep track their participation, among a myriad of other programmes to digitalise various finance processes.

Chan Meng is greatly encouraged by the steady adoption of low code in the company. “At CAG, we are trying to cultivate a culture of innovation within the organisation, and part of that involves showing staff how low code can help them to work smarter. Low code tools and resources like our “Digital Kitchen” empowers our staff to create their own solutions to everyday problems quickly and easily. Going forward, we see teams across CAG leveraging low code solutions to streamline their work and drive productivity gains, creating capacity for them to drive more innovation for robust operations and to delight customers.”

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