Adoption of the latest IT technology still too slow, warns Unisys

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Too many air cargo carriers are still running their own outdated IT systems and the move to latest technology is too slow and hindering business growth.

This is the view of Unisys’ vice president for logistic solutions in the global transportation sector, Christopher Shawdon who explains to Air Cargo Week: “Too many carriers still run and maintain their own cargo systems most of which don’t give them competitive advantage.”

However, he adds: “But we have seen a growing move even by the largest carriers to change this so we could be on the cusp of further major changes and moves to cloud services.”

He feels the slow move to new systems in the industry is due to the investments made in existing ones and the complexity that has built around them.

Unisys has won three contracts in the last year, including in December Aloha Air Cargo and Northern Air Cargo, to replace legacy systems. This adds to contracts with 20 carriers such as Air Asia, Air Canada, Air China, Air France KLM, Air India, Air New Zealand, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, SAS Cargo, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.

Unisys offer clients a range of IT products for use in air cargo operations, Shawdon says: “Most of our clients buy our cloud cargo system, but some buy our Cargo Portal Services multi-carrier booking service and six bought our Cargo iQ platform.

“Key about our approach is all clients use the same software so when we apply updates each month, all clients can use them immediately. That gives our clients competitive advantage quicker than their competition and means we deliver more value per dollar of cost to our clients.”

Shawdon says the cloud-based system boosts business and improves cargo operations: “As we apply updates each month, we give clients unparalleled speed to market of changes and unparalleled value compared to legacy IT service delivery models.”

He adds the air cargo IT challenges are gaining competitive advantage, cloud collaboration, sensors and digital commerce.

Adoption of the latest IT platforms can boost cargo business as technology can provide detailed insights into what is really happening and clients can use those to drive and measure business transformation or disruption.

The industry will be a different place in 10 years time, according to Shawdon and will be much more analytical and less based on human experience and relationships.

“Everything will be dynamically optimised – from pricing to maximise capacity utilisation, to the use of more robots for moving goods as we see in many ‘dark’ warehouses today.

“Sensors will provide tracking and auditable proof of supply chain security to avoid product substitution such as of pharmaceuticals or of banned goods,” he explains.

Competition is fierce among IT firms to capture airline business for air cargo operations as they upgrade systems.

Shawdon says carriers are being offered at least three vendors for every service within the industry. He adds: “The leading organisations are the ones that innovate and leverage large client bases to deliver more value.”