Shippers & forwarders’ perspectives

Freight forwarders have occupied a key and hitherto indispensable position in the air cargo supply chain, but what does the changing air cargo market mean for their roles and their business. Chaired by Glyn Hughes, global head of cargo at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), speakers on this roundtable session discussed the need for collaboration within the industry the opportunities that new ‘trust-based’ information networks afforded, along with the opportunities of e-commerce, the need to move away from the vertically structured, procurement oriented relationship in the industry and the potential to replace manual forwarding processes with electronic. By Donald Urquhart.

Data is quickly becoming the most valuable asset a company has, but without the ability to exchange it and make money from it, it has limited value, cautioned Jean Verheyen, founder and chief executive officer of Nallian, a data sharing platform that helps companies within the same value chain to collaborate more effectively.

Verheyen was responding to a question by the session moderator, Glyn Hughes as to whether it was realistic for the air cargo sector, which has taken nearly four years to get to a 30 per cent penetration rate with the e-AWB, “to embrace something as unique as trusting your partners with your data and going into a community based sharing type situation?”

Verheyen noted that there is a significant need for companies to exchange information today, but many companies are afraid to do that because of information technology reasons, commercial or security reasons. But he added this is the unique selling point of Nallian, because the platform is tailored to provide only the data that is approved to be shared, with only the parties authorised to access it. “Th is is absolutely key, otherwise it won’t work,” he added.

“Data is becoming probably the most valuable asset a company has, but what are you with an asset that you cannot exchange. So you need a way to exchange the data and make money out of it, but you want to do it in a controlled way and that’s what we facilitate,” Verheyen said. He also believes that the market will drive companies to do this, in part because once the first few companies do it, they will then have a competitive advantage over the others, causing a cascading effect.