Founded in 1991, Singapore-based Cargo Community Network (CCN) provides cargo community systems (CCS) for the air freight industry. The company serves not only air carriers and freight forwarders, but also shippers, ground handling agents, and customs authorities. CCN’s services have evolved to encompass not just air cargo data exchange, but also cargo management, customs compliance, security, screening compliance and other digital solutions for the air freight industry. Payload Asia talks to Teow Boon Ling, CEO of CCN, for an exclusive.
How would you describe the air cargo collaboration platform that you recently launched, CUBEforall? How is it different from other solutions in the market?
We develop new applications on our own; we also connect existing applications, whether built by CCN or others, to create a unified, workflow-based collaborative solution on the CUBEforall platform. In fact, the CUBEforall platform allows users to select applications, ala-carte style, to fit their own processes. Our integration allows data sharing permissions to be activated, allowing users to both share and receive data to create an interconnected system. With our approach, data-silo gaps are bridged, and consignees gain visibility over the entire shipment. In addition, our integration adds value to existing applications used by their customers, so commercial viability is not a concern.
Based on your press releases, it seems that CCN’s operations are mostly in Asia Pacific. Would you say that your air cargo solutions are more compatible or designed towards customers in Asia Pacific?
The objective is to build a comprehensive ecosystem based on the CUBEforall platform, with products and services by technology logistics providers for our customers globally. We work closely with our international customers and are fortunate to have strong support, particularly from our customers in Asia Pacific and Middle East. Our air cargo solutions are IATA compliant and are able to meet the diverse regulatory requirements that differ from country to country. We also customize our solutions to meet local requirements where relevant. With the introduction of CUBEforall, CCN will bring even more benefits to the air cargo community and will accelerate the push to extend its global footprint.
Most would agree that the last 2 years (with Covid and supply chain disruptions) has certainly accelerated the adoption and awareness of digitisation in the industry. Do you agree? What’s your take on this?
The past two years have certainly seen an increased awareness and adoption of digitization in the industry due to the pandemic. However, we recognise that not all companies are at the same level of digital readiness. By creating the CUBEforall platform with a suite of digital-ready applications fully integrated for data collaboration, we aim to democratise the digital transformation to our entire community. Now, all our users ranging from MNCs to SMEs and even the very small setups will have access to our applications on the platform at reasonable costs, and thus are able to collaborate with one another easily.
Which region or business unit, would you say, is your biggest market or customer? Are there points in the air cargo supply chain that are harder to persuade to adopt digital platforms like CUBEforall?
Our biggest markets are Asia-Pacific (including China, India, Australia and New Zealand) and Middle East. Despite having seen success in these markets, certain sections and stakeholders within the air cargo value chain remain difficult to penetrate. One big segment that we wish to bring onto our platform is the Shippers community. This segment originates the shipment process, and hence should be included to reap most benefits out of digitalisation. We believe that providing as many value propositions as relevant to not only the shippers but to all our stakeholders in the community is the key to unlocking these doors, and encourage full industry ecosystem participation. This is why we are actively pursuing partnerships with technology logistics providers. By collaborating and integrating with these providers, we can offer our users versatile solutions that will be increasingly sought after. With stronger value propositions, we will make it easier for potential customers to see the benefits of our offering, and actively seek us out
According to experts, the air freight forwarding market is softening compared to a year ago. What’s your outlook for 2023? What do companies need to consider to stay ahead of the game and buck any negative market trends?
As the COVID-19 pandemic transitions to an endemic stage, the direct-to-consumer ecommerce market volume has declined following the relaxation of lockdown quarantine measures, while geopolitical uncertainties, such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, have had a further deflationary effect on export orders and stabilised air cargo tonnages to pre-pandemic levels. Companies with the mindset to be agile in thinking, embrace flexibility, and leverage technology solutions in their business processes will emerge stronger, be in a position to maintain resiliency and secure competitive advantage against future negative market forces. CUBEforall is one such solution, helping to automate repetitive data entries, reduce costs and open up new collaboration opportunities with other stakeholders in the air cargo chain.
This interview has been published on Payload Asia’s December-January issue