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Embracing the Cloud by John Debenedette

Posted By Administration, Friday, December 2, 2016
Updated: Thursday, December 1, 2016

Chairing the panel ‘Embracing the Cloud’ at TIACA’s ACF was enlightening. To kick things off I asked for a show of hands from the audience to indicate who actually uses the cloud for day to day operations. Half of you are dabbling in Cloud solutions for commodity apps like email but it turns out that when it gets to business apps, the majority of our colleagues are still using pre-Cloud models!

So what’s stopping us?
Two major concerns became clear: an aversion to the disruption Cloud solutions tend to bring to every industry they touch, and the initial short term costs associated with adopting them. Unaccustomed as an industry that we are to change, there was much discussion around the trend of cloud apps enabling disruption and new business model 

they spark within many industries. However, when we are the drivers of such change, there is no need to fear it! Tight margins and fixed short term costs are another long standing issue within our industry and this certainly came to light here, seeming to overshadow the long term financial benefits of making the change.

Why should we pay attention to Cloud...?
Global spending on Cloud infrastructure and services is expected to reach USD235bn by 2017 (IHS) and, by 2018, it is estimated that more than 60% of enterprises will have at least half of their applications and infrastructure on Cloud-based platforms. The percentage of small businesses engaging Cloud computing services is set to more than double by 2020, from 37% to almost 80%. In a survey published in February this year, 90% of respondents said their enterprise companies plan to increase or maintain their cloud computing budgets.

I outlined clearly, with real life examples, the benefits of moving to the Cloud:

  • Flexibility – operational agility and easy to scale up cloud capacity
  • Disaster recovery – cloud-based backup and recovery solutions save time and money
  • Automatic software updates – suppliers look after system maintenance
  • Capital-expenditure free – enjoy a subscription-based model that’s kind to your cash flow
  • Increased collaboration – access, edit and share documents anytime from anywhere
  • Document control – all files stored centrally and everyone sees one version
  • Security – access your data no matter what happens to your machine
  • Competitiveness – act faster than big, established competitors
  • Environmentally friendly – only use the energy you need and don’t leave oversized carbon footprints

Industry endorsements of the Cloud Head of Cargo at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Jonas van Stekelenburg, sitting on the panel, gave testament as an air cargo hub in the midst of several Cloud

based data projects. He explained that Schiphol’s experience with its e-freight program e-link, and its newly established Holland Flower Alliance shows stakeholders are more than willing to share data, if it means an improved supply chain and ROI. Other comments from the panel, which included representatives from IATA, Hub One, and Pros, Inc, included the important observation that having your data on a Cloud system does not always mean that is being shared.

Patrice Bélie, Chief Executive Officer, Hub One mentioned that he was hopeful that cloud adoption would make it easier for our industry to overcome working in silos. He concluded that cloud technology will help but it’s also about data ownership and the way companies think. Celine Hourcade, Head, Cargo Transformation program, IATA backed Patrice's point, adding that IATA is moving beyond e-freight and document formats to the next level with a new initiative called Digital Cargo. “Digital cargo focuses precisely on the processes, meaning, and ownership of data and will be useful to help the industry take sharing information to the next level,” she said. Zeke Ziliak, Executive Account Manager, PROS, Inc told the panel that they sell their products both in pre-Cloud and Cloud configurations and an increasing number of customers appreciate the Cloud model because they don't need to requisition capital or deal with hardware. “Our sales process and of course the speed at which the customers obtain value is so much faster,” he added.

At this point I commented that the problem may be that industry believes it is ahead of the curve with Cloud technology, early as we were to adopt automated processes. Modern business landscape tells a different story however, and we are being left behind as other industries move forward. We must not rest on our laurels! As Jonas van Stekelenburg commented – “the skillset of any team will experience a shake up and refresh when new platforms are introduced; it is all part of the journey toward better quality.”

It was great to be involved in such an innovative discussion, and hear the progress being made in adoption of Cloud technology.
Thanks to all who attended!

John Debenedette

Managing Director

Worldwide Information Network (WIN)

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