Digitalization, digitalization, digitalization! For years, this topic has been on top of the agenda of every conference held by the air freight industry. And rightly so, because the industry has a lot of catching up to do in this sector compared to other heavyweights such as the automotive, pharmaceutical, and mechanical engineering industries. Yet, the gap is narrowing, as was evident from the many exhibitors at the recent transport logistic trade fair. Whether Xeneta, Riege Software Solutions, Descartes, Forss-One, Logis IT or cargo.one - a large number of providers of digital services were represented with their own booths, some of them appearing in public for the first time.
Business is becoming more digital, easier to plan and clearly faster thanks to electronic data transmission. This is the global trend and nothing new. However, how does the announcement by Ashwin Bhat, CEO Lufthansa Cargo, fit into the picture that IT technology is only one of several tools to initiate business processes. His argument: “We, as Lufthansa Cargo, are solution givers, whereby digital tools support us in our business processes,” says the manager. Yet so do traditional analog approaches. Combining both intelligently, and creating a phygital reality in daily business is the name of the game - using the best of both worlds is his credo (as CFG already reported back in 2021) In other words, he favors a multiple approach. Though Lufthansa Cargo's management is well aware that the days of the telephone and, above all, fax as a means of communication and booking instruments are almost over, the motto still applies: “If a customer picks up the phone to book a shipment, we allow him to do so.” Customers must be given multiple choices. In the end, the decisive factors for his company are speed, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.
Digital natives take over responsibility
Despite this multichannel approach to booking shipments, Mr. Bhat knows that twilight is well advanced for analog communications channels. He just doesn't want to banish them from the arsenal of options, at least for the time being. Yet, one thing is clear: the future of air freight is digital, although there is still quite a long way to go. It is also digital because the next generation has grown up with smartphones and computers. Companies that don't create an attractive – digital – working environment for young talent, will have problems filling positions with suitable people. In the future, these companies will stand on the sideline of playgrounds instead of being active part of the game. Or they will probably disappear altogether.
Going the ONE Record way
Lufthansa Cargo will not belong to the losers, and will continue to be a major driver of the air freight business, Mr. Bhat predicts, referring to the latest accord signed by his airline and data manager CHAMP Cargosystems (CFG reported).
It is a joint effort to actively drive the transition from an analog to an IT-driven cargo landscape, and even go beyond this by adopting the IATA-backed ONE Record platform as a standard tool for sharing and exchanging data along the supply chain.
Bhat also confirmed plans to increase the A321 freighter fleet from the current two to four aircraft in the coming months. “The network served by these aircraft has been developed in conjunction with our customers. If they decide to use Munich, we will go there,” he said in a reaction to queries voiced by MUC’s airport management.
Mrs. Casini says goodbye
CargoForwarder Global's interview with Ashwin Bhat was also the last press appearance by Communications Director, Jacqueline Casini. “There's magic in every new beginning,” she said, in parting. “You were the first to interview me after joining Lufthansa Cargo, and now you are the last.” She leaves Lufthansa Cargo on 30MAY23, having headed the communications and marketing department since NOV16. Because of a non-disclosure agreement, she did not provide information about her future professional career.
A decision on her successor is expected to be published in JUN23. “We are a people's business. That's why we need a pro with a profound cargo mindset. The skills can be learned,” explains CEO Bhat, citing the main criterion for filling the soon vacant position.
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