Tech Summer event examines air cargo’s digital future

Image source: Pixels Hunter/ Shutterstock

Air cargo booking portal CargoAi recently held its Tech Summer event, a series of webinars over three days bringing together industry experts to discuss the latest digital developments in air cargo.

After the event, Air Cargo News caught up with some of the participants to find out more about the challenges and opportunities presented by the digitalisation of air cargo supply chains.

What are the key challenges faced when advocating a fully digital supply chain?

Markus Flacke, program lead, Volga-Dnepr Group

I see the main challenges in the fragmented landscape of systems and regulations – this is why the comparison to the passenger business is very often mismatch. A cargo shipment does not present itself to the customs officer (yet) and does not queue at immigration.

Hence it becomes all the more important to factor in these imponderabilities and to plan a landscape allowing for easy addition and integration of new functionalities and partner systems. Very often I find also that especially within the air cargo community there is an attitude that if it can’t be done all at once it is not worth the effort – which means one sits idle and waits for the one solution which will digitally transform one’s supply chain.   

How important are APIs when it comes to implementing digital supply chain solutions?

Magali Beauregard, chief commercial officer, CargoAi

APIs are part of the foundation for any modernisation efforts and they will certainly support the industry by reducing and replacing the web of legacy technology with more modern applications where possible.

Whilst they may not replace the entire EDI system in the near future, APIs certainly complement and supercharge the industry’s capacity to solve modern day’s challenges in logistics and supply chain and allow the various players in the industry to deliver on that promise of speed, quality and transparency.

For that, the industry also needs to embrace standardisation to allow the true benefits to unlock. CargoAi is a proud contributor to the IATA ONE Record initiative which advocates for standardisation and adoption within the industry.

What is the importance of implementing agile methodology and gaining speed to market?

Elena Volkova, chief product and marketing officer, CargoAi

To run a successful software product today – you need to be relevant within your market, have all the basics among the competition, innovate to be one step ahead of what is expected, and of course — to deliver that all as fast as possible.

It’s also no longer enough to just look within your area/industry, nowadays you need to look “around” and connect with other solutions and platforms. In other words, to be at the top of your game you need to interact, listen and adjust as you go, you need to be agile.

Agile software development allows you to deliver new ideas to the market as frequent as you want: once a month, twice a month… if you really desire so — every week. Implementing this methodology will take from six to nine months (there are many coaches nowadays who can help to do a smooth transition), at the end it will all worth the effort.

Testing business strategies no longer takes years — you can deliver your product idea to the market tomorrow, and see if it was a success or maybe adjustments are needed.

How can users leverage solutions beyond their key functions by using data and engaging customers within the product?

Ricardo Pilon, vice president strategic solutions, Aviation Strategies

I see more and more movement to incorporating more insights into the customer relationship management workflow.

So depending on what organisations use for housing their customer and related transaction history, there is a need to integrate more intelligence into the day-to-day tasks so it can drive better decisions, value-based offers, and help personalise responses to request for quotes by providing relevant recommendations.

What this means, in practice, is that airlines and forwarders are bringing more conventional BI-type reporting into CRM tools, which can then be further enhanced through data science by providing recommendations (offers, bundles, rates, routes, including loyalty and service level credits) that appeal to customers and shorten the quote to cash cycle. 

This move to intelligent, Ai-based, CRM with transactional capability is the future of accelerating digital commerce and revenue optimisation.

From a customer perspective, this relevance, customisation, repeatability, predictability and ease of doing business represents enormous value. 

What is the ‘next big thing’ when it comes to digital supply chain solutions?

Francois Xavier Gsell, chief technology officer, CargoAi

Many exciting things will continue to generalise, with IoT, robotics, and AI ahead, but if I need to choose one thing that will be both next and big, it would be the shift to open and standardised data by default.

It seems to me critical to have it before we can get the most make the most of other evolutions.

For example, while robotics and IoT are developing, and they will slowly but surely improve operations efficiency. Still, those gains will be decoupled if information can be shared accurately and efficiently between partners to enable them to manage operations more proactively.

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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector.After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015.Contact me on [email protected]