The Ukrainian CEO & Founder of Awery Aviation Software, Vitaly Smilianets, was the guest speaker on Kale Logistics’ “Logistics Tech Dialogues” last week, talking to moderator, Reji John, Editor of STAT Media Group, about Awery’s beginnings, its products, and where the air cargo industry is heading when it comes to digitalization.
“Digitalization serves as the perfect opportunity to improve communication and cooperation within the complex value chain, driving both cost efficiency and service excellence. Awery Aviation Software is a complete, integrated, web based, extremely flexible and customizable platform that manages main aviation business processes, increasing productivity, reliability, and efficiency of cargo airlines, GSAs, handling agents, and others. Awery is grabbing headlines as it expands its customer base and market reach beyond Europe into Asia and the United States,” Reji John says, by way of introduction.
A stroke of luck
Asked about how Awery came into being, Vitaly Smilianets explains that luck played a role in the company’s founding: “I was working at a company, selling cargo aircraft to the Middle East region from CES countries, and it was an opportunity to actually start building the software to automate the processes of cargo airlines. So, we signed up the first customers in September 2009. And slowly we implemented more and more features inside the system, such as price controls, yield management, cargo management, HR, and then full finance system in one package.”
Later, explaining that the main product combines all the different sources of information to offer sales, operations, and finance, all in one place, allowing the user to run their entire aviation business on Awery, he adds that “it’ll do everything except, maybe, just the maintenance of the aircraft!”
A second, cargo booking product digitizes the sales and quotation processes, is integrated into other backend/legacy systems, and offered as a white-label solution, plug-and-play system. Much has been invested in Artificial Intelligence tools to also speed up the automation of incoming e-mails for example (“e-magic”), he says.
“What is the problem and how to fix it?”
“What is the problem and how to fix it?” is the answer Vitaly Smilianets gives to Reji John around half-way through the interview, in response to the question regarding Awery’s fundamental approach to new client projects. Yet, it is very clearly the company’s sober modus operandi in everything it does and faces. On 28FEB22, just days after Russia invaded Ukraine, the 52-strong company posted a release stating: “Due to the recent events in Ukraine, we have made some changes to our business that means we are able to continue to provide full support and service to our customers. Our priority remains the safety and welfare of our staff and their families. Given the uncertainty in Kyiv at present, we have moved a number of staff to our other office locations and new facilities in Bulgaria and Western Ukraine. Our offices in UK, Europe, USA, and Australia remain unaffected.”
Steering the company in exile
Vitaly Smilianets, originally based in Kyiv, is himself in Bulgaria these days: “Now, unfortunately, we are a bit of a relocated team, but because our products and services are fully digital and online, we were able to survive it, and even able to continue the growth and looking for next projects. We already serve around 100 customers worldwide, among them are cargo airlines, passenger airlines, charter brokers, cargo GSAs, and others…”
The company saw a great deal of traction from cargo companies over the past pandemic years, seeing a 400% growth in cargo bookings, and illustrating positive use-cases where companies have been shifted in the space of just 2.5 months from other IT systems to complete Awery solutions. With the Covid disruption and the forced move to work from home, business is booming as “companies are [now] shifting their strategy and looking for automation, to be more efficient.” Awery continues to grow and there are vacancies posted on its website. It is now also represented in Australia and the Netherlands and is looking for IT solutions providers to partner with and expand using their networks, tools, and processes, too.
The industry should start to connect
While there have been many technological improvements in the supply chain, the industry is still missing interconnectivity, “and this is what I see for the next few years,” Vitaly Smilianets predicts. “The industry should actually now start to connect: connect different systems, different processes, so that you can have the whole visibility of supply chain. And the same goes for the hardware,” he says, referring to the wide range of solutions available from physical tracking to automated vehicles and cargo loading, replacing fossil fuel with electrical fuel vehicles, and a number of other solutions that “can really cause the industry to go on to the next level, going forward.”
“Do you think that the future of freight is actually digital?”, Reji John asks. “Yeah,” Vitaly Smilianets laughs, “We would not do our projects if we don’t believe in it!”, and points to the boom in digital interest and mindset change brought about by the pandemic. “We see it happening […] and I really hope it will keep going this way!”
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