Digital executives speaking on a panel at TOC Europe 2017 tempered expectations for companies looking for one digital solution to manage all of freight trade.
Software providers spoke of daunting challenges in the quest to digitize global cargo movements on a panel entitled The Digital Debate at the terminals trade fair on June 28, 2017.
New logistics sector activity by online retailers Amazon and Alibaba seems to presage digital-tracking for all cargo movements across third parties.
While cargo data sharing by the entire industry is touted to be key to its financial stability, the industry’s lack of standardization remains a steep barrier.
Michael Dempsey Vice President, Container and Port Solutions at ORBCOMM said: “If someone asked me what’s the definition of open source in our industry I’d probably say Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).
“A container position is a pretty common EDI transaction, or a gate transaction, as we all know. Openness in our world is measured by how well can I send and receive EDI instructions.
“When we are starting to go to the next level, a technical software level, I think it’s a whole new transaction, much more complex quite frankly.
“We have one client who asked us to make the transaction of truck and gate look like an EDI transaction.
“Until there’s a tech down the road, and we decide this is how were going to be how we’re going communicate we’ll probably just use EDI.”
CEO of Singapore company essDOCS provides Our CargoDocs platform digitizes trade operations, finance and logistics, Alexander Goulandris said: “I can almost guarantee there will never be an 800-pound gorilla solution in trade because it’s simply too big a pitch.
“I’ve now been talking to incredibly big companies over the past year and they’re all saying the same thing, ‘we have to collaborate’. I’d point out 200 solutions to them, and that’s not even talking about ports or terminals and land rail.
“Talk about trade I can find 10,000 company solutions to digitize 80-90% of all your processes. How does one person deliver all of that? It’s not possible.
“It does not mean there will not be a lot of acquisitions in this space in a few years. And a lot of people trying to put larger digital trade ERPs together, but I still think we’re a few years away from that.”