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The Power of Digitalization in Turbulent Times - Why the Time to Act is Now

Article submitted by: Nallian – A TIACA Trustee Member

In turbulent times, the strong survive. And the gap between digitally empowered companies those who use linear, paper-based processes is only getting bigger. Because they continuously raise the bar for service quality, transparency and compliance. And because they gain operational efficiencies with streamlined, agile processes. While companies tend to hold back on investments in turbulent times, it is more than ever the moment to invest in digitalization. Because of its fast ROI, because of the operational, reputational, economical benefits it offers, and because the longer you wait, the more you will lose. A closer look at 3 key reasons to adopt digitalization, and 4 misconceptions that might withhold you from doing so now.

3 reasons to change: the economical, operational and reputational benefits

The economical benefit

Digitalization initiatives are still often seen as projects with a cost. While the business case should be made based on ROI. We have customers report an ROI of 600% annually since they use for example digital checklists and include pictures as proof of condition –because of the money they save by being able to counter unrightful claims. How much money you could save by doing more with the same amount of square meters, by invoicing faster and complete, by having staff faster up and running and avoid mistakes, … ?

The operational benefit

A war on talent, high rotation of staff and usage of temp workers may jeopardize continuity and quality of service. Digital processes limit the risk of human error and drive efficiency as they guide operators during execution, automate certain actions and validations, give visibility on performance, provide an auditable trail in case something goes wrong, enable faster corrective measures, …

The reputational benefits

Digital processes, where users are guided in a clear way, timestamps are registered, and information is captured and shared in real-time, channels activity and eliminates the human error factor. It allows offering customers levels of quality, safety and compliance no paper-based process can offer and allows benchmarking performance in an objective way.  

4 misconceptions about why not to move now

Misconception 1: digitalization initiatives should be complex and involve a lot of actors

Cargo community systems, where the airport takes the initiative to connect the actors at the cargo hub have proven their worth at forward-thinking airports such as BRU, FRA, DFW, AMS, SIN, ….  But digitalization efforts can also be taken at a smaller scale by individual stakeholders (e.g. a ground handler) and focus on a specific business process (e.g. digitalization of cargo acceptance checks, or streamlining freight import/export).  

Misconception 2: they are time consuming

Cloud-based solutions, with their user friendliness and phased approach (start small, add more functionality later), are a game changer when it comes to implementation. A digital checklist solution is downloadable from the App Store in a matter of clicks, a truck visit management solution that coordinates freight pick up and drop of can be implemented in less than 8 weeks, ….

Misconception 3: digitalization initiatives should involve a big project team and IT resources

The implementation of applications do not necessarily need IT staff, they require an operational super user to get started. In particular as they allow to start with basic functionality and add more later (for example integration with the back-end system).

Misconception 4: digitalization initiatives are costly

Using SaaS applications there a no hidden costs. A usage based subscription model gives a clear view on (monthly) costs, which – based on functionality and volume used, scales with the needs and means of your company. This allows you to calculate a clear ROI (in contrast with old school IT implementation).

Just as in other industries, we often hear that we should modernize our ways of working and make our industry more attractive to (young) people. Having them fill out paper checklists or stand hours in line to be assigned a dock door is not what we need. Why not give them a modern way of working that allows them to focus on more value adding tasks instead. An approach that drives operational efficiency, service quality and profitability for the company, and improves reliability, quality and visibility for its customers? The technology is there. It is only a matter of adopting it. In our slow-moving industry, the fastest movers will be the one taking the biggest advantage.