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Role of Digitalization in Turbulent Times – Airline View

Article submitted by: Air Canada Cargo – A TIACA Trustee Member

Written by: Janet Wallace

Air Canada Cargo didn’t wait for the pandemic to hit in March 2020 to begin evolving its business. The airline was already on the path towards digitization, converting data to a digital format. Digitized data, used to automate processes, can make data more accessible and create operational efficiencies. A good example is the ongoing support to promote the use of IATA’s e-AWB throughout the industry, reducing the need for paper air waybills.

Janet Wallace, Managing Director, Cargo Operations & Transformation, says, “To achieve a fully digitally connected and integrated air cargo supply chain, digitization alone doesn’t allow for optimization. However, digitalization leverages digital information technology to entirely transform an airline’s processes. Taking this next step to make data not only accessible, but actionable, provides an opportunity to evaluate, reengineer, and reimagine the overall business. This form of technology encourages innovation and collaboration, can be used to measure and track progress to optimize resources. These advances can ultimately support and accelerate operational stability and sustain high service levels.”

Air Canada Cargo’s multi-faceted transformation aims to address customer accessibility and growth. This includes technology with the capability to integrate with digital marketplaces (such as CargoAi, and WebCargo) to offer streamlined air cargo service through seamless and frictionless channels. The goal is to make it as convenient as possible for customers to do business with us, and for the airline’s services to be available in a format that connects with how customers want to use digital platforms.

Digitalization has the potential to drive compliance operationally, support trade facilitation through API data exchanges, and, more importantly, enhance the visibility of the end-to-end supply chain. This has been at the forefront of customers’ requests for increased transparency in air service, notably as it relates to action against climate change.

Data and business analytics are the critical accelerants of the organization’s digitalization and transformation efforts. Introducing innovative digital tools, standardizing processes through engineering, and applying advanced analytics to improve cargo business performance in operations is more important than ever. Emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and the internet of things, will unlock a new value from data aggregated through digitization. The machine learning and predictive algorithms that power artificial intelligence dashboards, for example, help skilled employees make decisions in real-time and focus on the part of the customer service process where they can add value – and create meaningful, memorable touchpoints.

In summary, digital transformation goals aim to digitize non-digital products, services or operations in order to integrate them within an eco-system that will increase value. By improving the quality of the customer experience and driving efficiency, digitalization can drive both revenue generation and operational excellence. The evolution of Air Canada Cargo’s business model aims to catapult the airline forward to support value-producing products and services for the benefit of our customers and the industry.