When it comes to innovation, our heroes are those who can do more with lessby Author
The air cargo business is one of great opportunity in today's world, but it is not easy to figure out the nuances. As a crucial driver of the world economy, the sector should expect demand to be intensely growing every year, but the yield isn't showing such a strong trend in reality. This puts pressure on pricing as well as product to enable a significant distinction from the generic supply (stemming from ever increasing passenger aircraft bellies) that eats into the growing demand.
The good news is that air cargo companies are dreaming big about a digital future for the industry. And technology capability to support such dreams is making rapid strides thanks to intensive R&D efforts from companies like IBS. This means the pieces are all in place – it is now the time to lock in real world value through effective partnerships, enabling collaborative efforts on a global scale.
The 14th IBS Cargo Forum, which concluded in Bangalore this past week, witnessed a great turnout from the who's who of the industry. Ashok Rajan, Sr Vice President and Head of Cargo & Logistics Solutions at IBS, delivered the welcome address, tracing the evolution of the CGI strategy of iCargo product development and explaining the relevance of the event in the broader industry perspective. A total of 100+ delegates from 4 continents attended the event and participated in the working group sessions to track the development roadmap of the iCargo platform. In addition to demonstrating their commitment to keeping the iCargo platform firmly in step with the dynamic industry requirements, this was a strong testimony to the value attached to the partnership by our customers who are assured of real returns from their investment of energy and resources.
Anand Krishnan, CEO of IBS, delivered the keynote address on managing innovation in business. Dissecting the concept to a deep level, he spoke about how the onus is on the organizational leadership to drive people towards innovation and give them the latitude they need to take risks. This was aptly followed up by the iCargo product update by Radhesh Menon, Head of Product Management and Strategy, which was a veritable demonstration of how such innovation is key to the future of the industry. In addition to making great strides in mobility and enhanced user experience, the platform is also harnessing new age technologies to implement deeper analytics capabilities. Enhanced customer participation is envisioned through the introduction of two additional working groups – one on mail handling, and another to focus on the architecture and technology aspects of the platform.
One of the highlights of the ICF event was the unveiling of the "Virtual Connect platform". This is essentially a digital data exchange platform which enables cargo airlines to engage in deeper partnerships and collaborate more effectively with independent Ground Handling Agents. It is agnostic of the platform deployed by the GHA, and provides real business value to an airline which seeks to gain/expand GHA capacity in new geographies through partnerships. Interestingly Michael Reisenberg - Head of Application Development - Cargo Handling & Customs Applications, Lufthansa Cargo, presented the "Logistics Data Cloud" concept, which aims at a more broader level of integration between the air cargo service providers and the end customers for enhanced visibility and transparency in the air cargo supply chain. This in effect aligns perfectly with the goals of the Virtual GHA platform, albeit on a different position in the value chain.
The forum members were then treated to a deeper dive into the business drivers for next gen technology and architecture, led by Kanakambaran Nair, Enterprise Architect, IBS Software, emphasizing on the importance of effectively utilizing the data gold mine which is available to businesses today, he explained the cloud adoption strategy and the huge role played by a platform provider such as IBS in delivering relevant value to cargo companies from the diverse array of new technology contenders that are rapidly becoming available. This was followed by an engaging presentation of the new value added capabiltiies such as advanced capacity segmentation, truck movement controller, automated pre-billing shipment quality audits – all of which are part of the ongoing roadmap of developments on the iCargo product. This was led by Santhosh T John, Senior Business Consultant and Zarir Shroff, Principal Consultant, IBS Software.
I look forward to this event more than any other, because we have real conversations happening here~ An esteemed customer of iCargo
A crucial element of all editions of the IBS Cargo Forum is the input received from our customers who have experienced for themselves the extent of value that can be provided only by such an advanced platform built up on a collaborative solutioning strategy. Jessica Tyler, Vice President of American Airlines Cargo recalled their journey towards digital transformation, what they learned from their past mistakes and also expressed their confidence in achieving their goals through the iCargo platform. Josh McKoy, Manager of Cargo Systems at Virgin Australia, recounted the remarkable story of the growth of Virgin Australia cargo from a greenfield startup to today, where it is looking at its next stage of growth in the domestic Australia marketplace. It is an interesting statistic that the iCargo platform was deployed in their organization at a record speed of merely 8 weeks from contract to go live,and has been proudly part of Virgin Australia's growth story.
Mr. Woo Kam Weng, CEO, POS Aviation, Malaysia presented his organization's vision of what e-commerce will look like in the future from a South East Asia standpoint, detailing the support required from the technology community in this endeavour. The Digital Free Trade Zone is a great enabler in global trade, and this is in good alignment with IBS' vision of how cargo can support e-commerce. Koos Du Plessis, industry consultant, IBS Software presented an roundup of regulatory requirements and best practices shaping up in the industry and the actions required from both IBS as well as the business users of iCargo need to be aware of in the foreseeable future.
The forum then broke out into multiple business function specific tracks spanning cargo sales, cargo operations, cargo accounting, air mail and technology & architecture that delved deep into the individual roadmap elements in works as well as the ones to be planned for the future that are relevant to each working group.
Despite the great diversity in the sector, there was a great deal of convergence into the fact that a digital future is essential not just for profitable operation but also for ensuring the richness of scope that the industry needs to stay relevant in today's world as well as tomorrow's. This has to begin from a robust data backbone such as the one provided by the iCargo platform, but for deeper quality of sustenance there has to be a culture of collaboration among all partners on the supply chain. This is true to the vision of iCargo and undoubtedly what the future will look like. This is how real world value will be delivered!
Radhesh Menon heads product management and strategy for IBS' offerings in the Airline Cargo Services line of business. In this capacity, he is responsible for short and long term product goals, competitive benchmarking, product roadmap and innovation practice. He is also responsible for running the product community model. He has over 16 years of experience in the air cargo and logistics business systems in air cargo, industry best practices and new industry initiatives.
Radhesh played a pivotal role in conceptualizing and developing the blueprints for IBS's new generation product line for air cargo management. He was instrumental in setting up and running the IBS Core Group of Influence (CGI) – a partnership of IBS and several industry leading carriers for the conceptualization of IBS' new generation cargo system - iCargo.