Industry-wide data platform an inevitability

The air cargo industry should develop a sector-wide data system if it is to meet shipper to demand for end-to-end supply chain visibility.
Speakers at the innovation in air cargo session at Air Cargo Europe agreed that creating supply chain efficiencies through digital solutions would be a key demand from shippers in the future.
Ideally an industry-wide platform should be developed to provide end-to-end visbility.
However, the speakers admitted this would be hard to achieve.
Brussels Airport Cargo development manager Sara Van Gelder asked: “How do you get everyone in one line with all their noses in the same direction?”
She felt cargo communities around airports could be the ones to lead the development of inter-company solutions.
“Starting communities one at a time is a good approach because then everyone works on developing a data cloud and they are open minded about keeping it inter-operable with other data clouds.
“It will be very difficult to start from one initiative worldwide but we could connect community by community. So keeping these community data clouds inter-operable is the most important part and making sure they can form a network in the end.”
Lufthansa Cargo board member products and sales Alexis von Hoensbroech said that the benefits of creating an industry-wide data cloud were so large that it would happen eventually.
He agreed that cargo communities could provide the answer, but added that technology providers could also play a part.
“The real value will only come when you unlock the entire transportation chain and there are players from the IT side that are pushing into this and are developing tools that can provide it,” he said.
“IATA is also pushing initiatives in that direction. However, IATA needs to get everyone on board and that is a big challenge in itself.
“There may also be a time when some big airlines, big forwarders and big shippers come together and create a system that has the sufficient gravity to pull the rest onboard.”
He pointed out that one of the characteristics of digital business models was that there tended to be one dominant system, such as Google or Ebay.
“Which one is the successful one isn’t clear at the moment but there are many players racing for it and eventually we will have it,” he concluded.

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