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February 22, 2023

Reflecting on CargoTech’s first 9 months

CargoTech was launched in JAN22, and is on a mission is to “encourage, facilitate, and accelerate the digital transformation of the air cargo industry”, by offering a single solution source approach to potential clients, and working to provide digital solutions for every air cargo business process. Consisting of four members so far, ECS Group’s Cargo Digital Factory, Wiremind Cargo, CargoAi, and Rotate, it is led by Cedric Millet, President of CargoTech. CargoForwarder Global (CFG) had a brief chat with Cedric Millet (CM) at the World Cargo Symposium 2022 in London.

CFG: What kind of interest has CargoTech generated since its launch?
CM: Our different members have different maturities, and thus different visibility currently. Wiremind already had SkyPallet, which is well-known, and this year launched its CargoStack CMS, which it is starting to sell. CargoAi just launched its Cargo2Zero carbon emissions reduction solution along with the CO2 Efficiency Score. Rotate is brand new, still. We are seeing collaborative interchanges: Skypallet is being used by CargoAi, and Wiremind Cargo is making use of CargoAi data, too.

CFG: So, a mix of product maturity and familiarity exists at the moment. What would you say are the main highlights from the past 9 months?
CM: Definitely the launch of Wiremind Cargo’s CargoStack CMS and its Revenue Optimization suite. For CargiAi, the clear focus on sustainability, and then Rotate joining CargoTech very recently.

CFG: Do you have other new members lined up? In what areas?
CM: We are looking for more members and have a few discussions going. We already have cargo management, revenue support, a booking platform, payment system, and data consulting on offer. We still need experts in ground operations, charters, OCR, reading solutions, and change management specialists to deal with people needing to get used to new technology. We will not be disclosing new members before end of the year.

CFG: Has the pandemic permanently disrupted the industry for the better, or do you see a move back to “business as usual”?
CM: Digital speed will not slow down now. Companies have had a taste of what works, and therefore don’t want to go back to how things were before. Passenger airlines have realized that cargo is a prime revenue generator (rather than just covering driving costs), and this high level of revenue kept airlines flying – avoiding the alternative which would have been grounding the planes and having to then retrain the crews. Given that cargo is bringing in prime revenue, there is a keen interest in revenue optimization solutions. And an awareness that you need to generate as much revenue as you can out of the capacity that you offer to market. Also, you will never be able to find a workforce willing to join cargo if they have to work manually, doing inefficient tasks. Those elements are all good reasons to speed up of digitalization.

CFG: What are the biggest challenges in driving digitalization?
CM: Adoption! Not the technology. Not taking adoption into account is the best way to fail, even with the most efficient digital solutions. Some companies do not have a holistic view of digitalization. They look at a specific process rather than take an overall view. With the downturn in cargo, I believe that some airlines will go back to old way of looking at digital solutions and will focus on cost-cutting rather than revenue-generation. Instead of looking to cut 2 salaries (a short-term solution), they should aim for more sustainable long-term solutions and instead focus on generating 5% more revenue margin – digital solutions can help them do this. So, we need to build up trust and show companies what automation can do, and the benefits of implementing revenue optimization solutions, for example.

CFG: What are the misconceptions when it comes to digitalization?
CM: That digital transformation is painful. It is not! My advice is to just look at the low hanging fruit first and try small steps to see how their digital solutions work for you. It is also a myth that “people don’t want to change”, since the new generation is digitally native. Air cargo needs to offer interesting jobs to this generation. “Cargo is not sexy” is wrong, too, since there is so much potential for change and digital movement, currently.

CFG: Are you also involved in IATA’s Digital Cargo Working Group?
CM: No – I am currently busy setting up CargoTech.

CFG: What could IATA do better?
CM: There are slow and heavy admin discussions, currently. Also, it is important that you have the right business experts in Working Groups – people who really know the business. At CargoTech, we have business experts delivering products that they know are useful and required, because they have worked in the industry.

Thank you for the interview, Cedric Millet!

Brigitte Gledhill

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