Ten years ago, Jean Verheyen (JV) founded Nallian to provide the air cargo community with a data exchange platform, in and beyond Belgium. On 07SEP22, it was time for a toast and a little retrospection.
Representatives from all the trades within the community joined the celebration, much to the joy of CEO, Jean Verheyen.
CFG: Mr Verheyen, what made you decide to set up Nallian?
JV: The evolution from stable supply chains (same partners, a lot of transactions) to fragmented and geographically distributed chains, amongst others because of e-commerce, where some of these chains exist once only.
The communication between all the partners was unable to reflect these changes: EDI-like messages are like stamped letters, expensive to organize, and have a lead time of several weeks, which cannot be justified if only one transaction is involved. That is why I tried to find some inspiration in data sharing, which we were familiar with as social media consumers, but which was unknown in the B2B machine2machine environment.
CFG: What is the difference between the technology at the time and today’s?
JV: The Cloud has become more mature and standardized, and more generally accepted. There is also a larger need for data to enable a swifter response to unexpected circumstances impacting the supply chain, as well as for technology to provide it (block chain remains the exception, as it is useful in specific/limited cases only).
CFG: Have you experienced a shift to specific services?
JV: Our customers have evolved from airports (Community/Cargo cloud approach) to individual cargo actors as well (such as ground handlers), who no longer want to wait to digitize processes until the community as a whole is ready for it (communities are inclined to follow the speed of the slowest). The pressure from the integrated players (like Amazon and Cainiao), is growing, and the companies are feeling that they are losing market share. Recently, the Covid-19 crisis led to an acceleration in adopting digitization and technology.
Less is custom-made and the demand for standard SaaS products is growing. One does not have the time or the budget to re-invent the wheel and to service it (s.a. security).
CFG: Are the companies versed enough in ICT?
JV: There are still some major differences in the digital maturity of companies. Often this depends on a few people who look at the future and understand the need for and advantages of digitization. Demonstrating the business benefits remains imperative. For example, how in the present war for talent, modern, efficient processes may help to attract young people, to increase automation, and to become less dependent on the individual.
In that way, staff can be put to work on (those parts of) processes in which they can create the largest added value. People can be deployed more quickly according to the business, to bring more visibility to customers, to enable them to anticipate and reduce risks, to enhance compliance, and guarantee better service levels.
Apart from this, change management remains of the utmost importance, also in organizations that are digitally mature. It is never a question of choosing the right technology. Clear communication and engaging enough people in the process are necessary to assure good implementation.
CFG: Is the Nallian technology a one-size-fits-all?
JV: Not at all. We have different solutions in our portfolio, all of them modular. This enables the activation of functionality according to the needs of the business, as well as starting small when necessary and scaling up step by step.
In this way we are able to serve a broad range of customers, large and small, from airport and airport community to the individual cargo player.
CFG: On which airports are you active?
JV: Brussels, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Liege Airport, Dallas Fort Worth, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Vienna, Singapore, Frankfurt, Ostend, and Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg. Apart from this, we also collaborate with the Port of Antwerp-Bruges and the chemical industry community.
The human element remains
As a keynote speaker, Nallian had invited IT expert, Peter Hinssen, who elaborated on the past and future impact of digitization on consumers and business alike. The human element, however, will always be involved, he concluded.
A similar message was heard from David Bellon, Chairman of Air Cargo Belgium: “The digitization of Brussels Airport is not so much about technology, but about enabling,” he said. “Its strength is in the willingness of the stakeholders making up the community.”
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels
We welcome and publish comments from all authenticated users.