Making IT count

How can you keep your revenues in synch with costs, even during times of hardship? IBS’ iCargo solution has the answer.

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By  Edward Attwood Published  October 18, 2008

How can you keep your revenues in synch with costs, even during times of hardship? IBS' iCargo solution has the answer.

Adding value to your business is one of the key components in ensuring a profitable operation. For IBS chairman and chief executive officer VK Mathews, 25 years of experience in the travel transportation and logistics sector has revealed that only a complete end-to-end solution can truly add value for the client, whether that client has interests in air cargo management, airports management or supply chain solutions.

But finding ways to promote efficiency in such a vast and diverse sector is naturally difficult; each company will understandably seek a tailor-made solution that will allow his operation to run smoothly.

Shippers nowadays want different possibilities and different options, and they want them as soon as possible, as each is trying to optimise his own economic operation.

The trick is to find a product that can offer companies diversity while at the same time continuously adding value and still providing an excellent service to the customer. In this sector, a small error of any kind, or a bad decision, can result in lost revenue, and client retention is thus of paramount importance.

"In the 70s, 80s and 90s, the pace at which customers' preferences changed was far slower than it is now," recalls Mathews. "Shippers nowadays want different possibilities and different options, and they want them as soon as possible, as each is trying to optimise his own economic operation."

In trying to locate the ways to streamline different customers' businesses, Matthews started asking the questions that are familiar to all company directors. How can I enhance my market share and profitability? How can I respond to market conditions over which I have no control? How can I make sure my company scales up and grows? Just by speaking to the founder of IBS Software Services, it is clear that these sorts of questions are a constant factor in the back of his mind.

IBS is an IT products company that specialises in differentiating ideas from other services, and provides its solutions to a sector on which one out of every 10 dollars is spent worldwide. It has six business verticals, which between them cover the air transportation business thoroughly.

The company's airline business covers all aspects of not only passenger management - from reservations to departure control, inventory control and ticketing - but also covers the logistics of others who travel on board an aircraft, such as the crew members.

In addtion to cargo, IBS also has a number of solutions for airport operators, and a recent addition to the firm's family of clients was Tokyo's Narita airport, a huge freight hub in its own right.

"We have an excellent track record through our operations and resource management," smiles Mathews. "And we carry out operational monitoring for some of the best-known airports in the business, like Heathrow and Gatwick."

 For Mathews, maintaining and understanding the relationship with the traveller or the client, and then rewarding that relationship, is IBS' main aim. "We are probably the only company in the world which has invested in building a product, iCargo, that looks at the entire cargo logistics platform from the operator to the consignee, addressing all the requirements of all the players in the logistics chain," he outlines.

The IBS components are run from various locations: airline and airport operations are managed from the UK, while engineering and maintenance and airline services are both run from the US. Responsibility for software services is undertaken in India.

In addition, the firm has four major base areas of operation: North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific, IBS' largest, which covers the emerging markets of India and China, plus Japan and Australasia.

After the ‘dotcom' crash at the beginning of the millenium, Mathews decided to retain staff, instead of laying them off, an option that he saw as an excellent opportunity to invest in a new generation of cargo business. Nowadays, the company has a workforce of over 2000 and a roster of around 150 clients, which include the most recognised names in the business, such as Qantas, Cathay Pacific and KLM.

"Some of the best airlines in the world use our product to manage their mission-critical operations," states Mathews, proudly. "Nippon Cargo Airlines - the third-biggest all-cargo carrier - operating out of Japan, has just gone live with our iCargo product. These airlines have effectively bet their business on us, because they are all-cargo carriers. If our system stops, Nippon Cargo stops. Their confidence in our system is absolute, even though the actual product wasn't actually ready to go on line when we first showed it to them."

iCargo is the generic name for IBS' cargo solution. According to Mathews, the product helps an airline manage its cargo business completely by allowing the client to gauge capacities and schedules, book flights, produce airway bills, carry out shipment handling and ULD management, plus looking after terminal operations and even going so far as to interface with the customer. All this is carried out with the aim of enhancing an airline's profitability.

To create a futuristic leading product for the industry, IBS created an innovative concept, the ‘Core Group of Influence', with world's six leading carriers participating in a programme to influence the direction of the product being built.

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