This week, I left IAG Cargo – the world class air freight carrier, which includes British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Vueling, and Level – for a startup that’s much, much smaller.
Do you remember the first time you booked a flight online? I do.
I remember the slight anxiety of submitting personal details to what felt like an online black hole and hesitating before I clicked purchase.
Today that process is second nature. It’s done on my phone and I don’t even need to pull out my credit card because the information is automatically filled in for me.
It’s incredible how the pace of new technology adoption has changed so dramatically. In 2019 there’s an app for everything and transportation, even internationally, is easier than ever.
During the past few weeks I have taken the opportunity to travel around Asia between roles. Looking back, I can barely recall making any offline arrangements for travel or accommodations, except for the occasional local taxi (and even then most of them use Grab). Ok, I also stopped a couple times for some street food enjoyment which honestly, required no arrangements.
And yet while most of us living in the 21st century rely on the internet to manage our daily lives, the logistics industry remains largely offline. Sure, it’s changed a lot. But not close to enough.
And I know. I’ve spent 20 years of my career in the air cargo industry. While I was booking flights online for personal and business travel, I was part of an industry that to a large extent was still booking air cargo manually. At IAG Cargo, we were amongst the very few airlines to pioneer digital cargo.
The irony of this situation is not lost on me. I was an air carrier executive booking passenger travel online while my industry was still conducting most of its business offline.
And it’s all going to change…
Well, today I’m proud to say that air cargo eBooking is live! In fact, IAG Cargo where I spent two decades learning cargo best practices, is part of the small, but rapidly growing, group of air carriers leading industry digitization.
In June, IAG Cargo announced real-time electronic booking and pricing capabilities; you can read all about that here.
This type of news is huge in the logistics world. For some reason passenger travel and cargo travel haven’t digitized at the same pace. But something has changed in air cargo and the tipping point seems near.
eBookings are only the beginning. We are seeing dynamic pricing. And we still need to push digitization all the way to the end customer, the shipper. There’s so much digital progress to be made that would deliver exponential ROI. As an industry, we can’t rest on our laurels. It’s important to acknowledge progress, but also continue pushing limits and striving to be better.
That’s why I made the exciting (yet difficult) decision to join the startup world, specifically the Freightos Group, as Global VP Business Development, where I’ll be heading up airline relationships at WebCargo by Freightos, which is the business unit for digitizing logistics service providers.
For twenty years I had the privilege of being part of one of the best air carriers in the world. I learned from seasoned industry veterans and know air cargo inside and out. Personally, I feel the best way to truly digitize global freight is for logistics industry experts to crossover into the technology world. Knowledge transfer is critical.
From where I’ve sat, it seems cargo and technology have been operating on parallel tracks. Despite good intentions and a real commitment to bring global shipping online, this siloed approach has had limited wins.
I’m excited to contribute my industry expertise to bridge this knowledge gap, helping tech companies like Freightos continue to support cargo innovation, but doing so increasingly as an industry insider, not an external force.