The Augmented GSA

posted on 17th March 2022
The Augmented GSA

The air freight sector needs to rethink performance from both an economic and human perspective, giving more attention to factors such as well-being, commitment, and social value, believes Adrien Thominet, executive chairman of ECS Group

What have you been doing to improve air freight operational efficiency and communications, and what will you do this year?
2021 was marked for ECS Group by the launch of our ‘Augmented GSA’ strategy. Based on four pillars – commercial, new abilities, technology and sustainability – this strategy is the foundation of our company for the years to come and aims to fit our customers’ needs and optimise their revenues precisely by improving air freight operational efficiency. The technology and new abilities pillars are particularly relevant.
Technology is a strategic point that has become essential for several years and has been reinforced by the pandemic. ECS Group wants to become a leader in this area, to offer new tools that can lead the transformation of our industry: what can be digitalised should not remain manual. With the Cargo Digital Factory, we already offer various in-house tools such as Quantum, which supports the ad-hoc pricing process; Apollo, a BI and reporting system with real-time full visibility on the results, combining market and performance information; and Pathfinder, our in-house shipment tracking system.

New abilities
The new abilities are single modules that we have created beyond standard GSA services, offering a variety of support options – a new set of à-la-carte products. These are 10 unique products that we have developed in-house to meet the new demands of our customers and the new realities of the market – whether it’s revenue optimisation, accompanying them in their expansion by finding the right talents, or bringing international conveyance solutions to mail and ecommerce operators.
For this year, the idea is simple: develop and strengthen existing tools. To continue to be avant-garde in the transformation of our industry by continuing to be attentive to the needs of our customers and by always improving to meet them.

How can you and other stakeholders in the air freight supply chain work more effectively this year to improve visibility and streamline cargo operational processes – to minimise some of the congestion, delays and volatility experienced last year at certain cargo handling stations and airports?
Better operational visibility is achieved by having access to better operational data, to support decision-making with analytics and to improve operational capabilities. But real-time visibility requires this information to be updated with high frequency.
At the same time, the use of data reduces volatility by speeding up processing, quoting and booking. E-booking platforms are a great help in this area. Furthermore, ECS Group works in partnership with the online booking platform CargoAi. We have also developed new specific abilities for this purpose such as Quality Stars that help our clients adapt their processes to their outsourcing strategy or Optimum which delivers the necessary Performance Management processes, taking the Revenue Optimization to the next level.
So, technology and data are very important and we need to push further the digitalisation of the supply chain to streamline operations and increase productivity through efficiency gains and streamlined communication. At the same time, this will increase transparency and this is a key factor: more transparency also leads to more trust.

How can we better incentivize stakeholders in the air freight supply chain to support these aims?
We believe co-construction is essential in building a secure business environment for economic development. The catalyst for such co-construction lies in the ability to show stakeholders that these objectives are also in their interests. That by serving them, they are also serving themselves and that the future of our industry, in various fields, lies in the combination of expertise, of different views leading to the emergence of a collective intelligence.
We have recently given proof of this ambition since the CargoDigital Factory joins with Wiremind Cargo to create CargoTech, an independent entity which aims to improve global processes within and for the whole industry.

What role will new and emerging technology play?
Technology has become the keystone of many industries, and ours is no exception.
This is why we created the Cargo Digital Factory years ago. Since then, our air cargo industry and technology experts follow three clear principles: harmonise and ensure uniform standards, digitise and automate processes. By automating manual processes, we increased efficiencies. At the same time, we’ve focused on using the data and systems we had to create new, value-added services for our customers.
Emerging technologies play a vital role in modernising industries, helping to transform profitability, visibility, prediction. The benefits and fields of action are growing daily. Technology is one of the fastest-growing agents in the present world, faster than ever before. Digital transformation was a today is a must have.

Other expectations for air freight in 2022
My expectation, and almost wish, is that the air freight sector understands the need to rethink performance from both an economic and human perspective, by considering more factors as well-being, commitment, and social value.
The ecosystem in which we are evolving must lead us to question the meaning of our actions. To be exclusively in the production of services without being completely attentive to our customers and their aspirations at all levels is a non-starter. But to do so we must engage in transformation. Our four pillars are for us a way to act consciously, to produce and design in a more reasoned way and finally to redefine the notion of growth to last and give more meaning to our activities. The transformation has to be structural.