On 27OCT22, IBS Software announced that Singapore Airlines was going live with IBS’ new Integrated Cargo Management System (ICMS). Netting the world’s 16th largest cargo airline (by volume), is just one of a string of positive developments that the software provider has been experiencing in its anniversary year.
IBS Software is 25 years old this year and has grown from an initial team of 55 engineers and “a vision to transform the travel industry through digital technology” to a 3,500+-strong
workforce spread 40 countries, and a broad scope of products not just for the air travel industry, but also the cargo & logistics, cruise, hospitality, loyalty, and energy and resource
industries. The majority of the world’s top 20 airlines trust and rely on IBS products. Following intense user-testing since 01AUG22, Singapore Airlines (SIA) is one of those airlines, with its
go-live on iCargo’s new Integrated Cargo Management System (ICMS); a single, integrated cargo application using cloud technology to “transform cargo operations and customer delivery,”
offering a seamless, real-time interface between the airline and its various partners such as GSAs, ground handling agents, and freight forwarders.
Covid has accelerated the need for digital transformation
“The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated the need for digital transformation, especially given the important role that air freight plays in critical supply chains, as well as the need for greater supply chain visibility to improve resilience. IBS Software’s iCargo platform is a key element in SIA’s digitalization efforts to enable it to serve its customers even better, respond more quickly to changes in the marketplace and improve work processes, while allowing it to stay compliant and up-to-date with global industry standards and initiatives,” were Singapore Airlines’ Senior Vice President Cargo, Chin Yau Seng’s words.
A team that recognizes the transformative impact
Ashok Rajan, Head of Cargo & Logistics Solutions at IBS Software, agreed: “It is an honor to work with SIA; a team that recognizes the transformative impact of digitalizing air cargo, and is dedicated to creating innovative customer experiences that will enable it to capitalize on the air cargo opportunities ahead. We are beyond excited to continue to work with SIA on the ICMS to deliver even further capabilities and business benefits in the future,” he concluded, referring to the second implementation phase due in MAR23 which will include mail module migration, mail revenue accounting, and other sales, operations, and cargo revenue accounting module enhancements.
Most exciting past 2-3 years ever
At the WCS in London last month, Ashok Rajan began his IBS presentation with the words: “Of our 25 years in digital air freight, the past 2-3 years have been the most exciting that we have ever had. Despite the difficulties for the world and the economy, for us it has never been better,” acknowledging, however, the general “fear of what is around the corner”. He observed a shift over the past couple of years whereby customer (in this case often end shippers) expectations are starting to change regarding both pricing, performance, and a broader scope of what logistics entails – especially with vertical integration beginning to disrupt the market (citing ocean carriers launching their own airlines as an example). “The last two years have asked of us to change our mindset. IBS is transforming from airport-to-airport solutions to being a logistics player. This is the big shift that is expected of us, if we are expected to ride the wave that we are on currently.”
Mindset needs work
“The necessary shift is a move from legacy systems to digital solutions,” he explained and stressed that “this is not about technology, this is about getting used to new ways of working,” encouraging companies to define their idea of a digital cargo enterprise – one that goes beyond own capacities and focuses on tailored offerings that can be completely digitally serviced. A future, therefore, that relies on interaction between different partners, be they service partners such as ground handlers or interline partners, or third-party marketplaces, such as cargo.one or Webcargo, for example.
Ashok Rajan illustrated three buckets on the journey to complete digitalization and provided advice on how to tackle each one. The first bucket – Digital Processes – involves “looking inward and getting your own house digitalized”. The second bucket he referred to as Digital Connectivity, being connected to all relevant service partners, for example, and giving three engagement examples: airline to customer, airline to ground handlers, and airline to airline. He pointed out that a digital ecosystem is only as strong as its weakest digital link. Once the first two steps have been completed, the final bucket, Digital Intelligence, enables the use of Artificial Intelligence and analytics to intelligently drive business. As a recent success story example of true connectivity, he mentioned Lufthansa Cargo, which went live on iPartner a few months ago, seamlessly connecting the airline to its 30 ground handlers at 50 airports.
Frienemies and yes, we can!
“Technology is the easy part,” he said. “You don’t need to do everything yourself – there are technologies and providers available as SaaS. Your capital investment does not need to be locked in. Try in fail fast mode,” he urged companies looking to move to more complete logistics. “Get your focus right and partner with tech partners to really make the move into becoming a true logistics provider!”
CargoForwarder Global asked about all the IT partnerships that IBS has recently be signing – such as with booking platforms, for example. It transpires that the “You don’t need to do everything yourself,” is also valid here. “We will partner with as many companies as we can,” he said, stating a belief in “Frienemies” rather than individual competition. “If you can put together two good solutions, the sum total is a better offer for your customers,” he pointed out. IBS’ company culture at the end of the day, is a strong focus on efficiencies for the customer, and about going “above and beyond” expectation. There is still much to solve with regard to interfaces and digital transformation, but he is convinced: “It is all possible with the right focus!”
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