Wiremind Making sense of technology on global transport and people

Published: Friday, January 14, 2022

Air Cargo Update talks to Nathanaël De Tarade, Chief Commercial Officer of the Paris-based software and data science company Wiremind, about how digitalization is reshaping the industry and how their company is making sense of technology and data to benefit the global transport industry and the people that depend on it.

We’re three years into the pandemic and without the help of science and technology combined, it will be extremely difficult to navigate the
complex impact of the global health and economic crisis that the world is now facing.

This is a delicate time in humanity’s history where resources are scarce. The era of smart technologies, space exploration, artificial intelligence (AI), drones, robots, data science, algorithms and so many other tech and industrial revolution never before seen in our lifetime.

The air cargo industry, among the frontline industries that the world is currently heavily dependent on in terms of movement of goods, medical supplies and vaccines, is no exception to the massive digital transformation we’re currently seeing and experiencing.

Though struggling to embrace digitalization globally due to various reasons, the industry continues to make progress in different aspects of technology.

Air Cargo Update talks to Nathanaël De Tarade, Chief Commercial Officer of the Parisbased software and data science company Wiremind, about how digitalization is reshaping the industry and how their company is making sense of technology and data to
benefit the global transport industry and the people that depend on it.

De Tarade, an industry veteran for 11 years, half of which spent at AirFrance-KLM and the other half at Wiremind, says the airfreight industry is yet to fully utilize the scientific data and other technologies available to operate more efficiently and profitable.

Harnessing the power of technology

With just three staff when it started, Wiremind is now powered by 50 people and its roster of clients are some of the biggest in the cargo and passenger transport industries—Emirates, Atlas Air, United Airlines, Qantas, ECS Group, Chapman Freeborn, etc., and SNCF (Société nationale des chemins de fer français), one of the world’s first and biggest rail operators.

SNCF chose Wiremind’s CAYZN Revenue Management Solution to optimize its TGV INOUI high-speed services as well as for its Intercity and night-trains. This is so far Wiremind’s biggest accomplishment with 120 million commuters from France alone using the system.
“This is most likely one of our biggest achievements to date, and certainly one we have worked the hardest for. High-speed TGV rail travel in France alone is more than 120 million passengers per year, so it is comparable to some of the largest airlines in the world. We are very proud that SNCF has selected Wiremind as their solution provider to handle such a critical and strategic area. We believe it shows our level of expertise in Software, Revenue Management and Data Science,” De Tarade proudly said.

This year, the company is focusing more on the air cargo industry as it takes the lead role in safely transporting billions of COVID-19 vaccine doses across the world to contain the spread of the constantly mutating Coronavirus.

“2022 is really the year where our product offering will step up significantly. We already address the needs of end-to-end capacity optimization, from quotation to booking to flight build-up, thanks to our SkyPallet solution – we are now also offering to our customers dedicated Data Science & Ai-based solutions for Pricing, Overbooking, among others. We will be announcing more in the coming months,”
said De Tarade.

Worldwide, more than 307 million people have been infected by various COVID strains and more than 5.5 million have died as of January 2022. With the unequal distribution of vaccine still a major issue and governments lacking resources to buy medical supplies and sustain their healthcare systems, experts say the pandemic could linger on far longer than what they had hoped for.

Meaningful global impact

The pandemic has once again highlighted the importance of the global and domestic transport industry to move people and goods of all kinds via air, land or sea.

The industry is instrumental in taking essential workers to their jobs, keeping economies a float and distributing vaccines across continents despite unprecedented logistical and other operational challenges. In terms of global trade, air cargo accounts
for one-third of it estimated at over $6 trillion annually.

The transport sector’s impact to global trade and people across the world are the very reasons why De Tarade and the other founders of Wiremind chose to focus on it.

“The first reason simply lies in the background of the founders. We all come from the transport industry. There are many reasons why it’s one of the best industries to work in: it is an international business, where you meet people from different cultures, it is also a business that is essential in the lives of people – as you say, there are very few people on this planet that do not move themselves, or do not benefit from goods that have been moved,” the Wiremind CCO shared.

Mobility will continue to impact how people live and do business. This is something that Wiremind is cognizant of, thus, it continues to seek innovative ideas and solutions that will create meaningful benefits for companies in the transport sector as well as people that rely on it.

“I am proud to work on technology that has a true and meaningful impact on global trade. Sometimes, I feel that technology is used to
offer a solution to something that was not a problem: ordering a pack of cookies from the supermarket that is located 5 minutes away from my apartment, and getting them delivered in 10 minutes without moving from my couch, is not my idea of the best possible use of technology.

“Delivering Covid-19 vaccines to the world seems much more relevant. So, I’m confident that moving goods and people, using each mode of transportation as long as we are environmentally aware of our impact and work on mitigating it, is something that has a future. Fully using the capacity at our disposal is also meaningful in that aspect, to avoid flying or shipping empty space,” said De Tarade.

Wiremind and air cargo

The pandemic challenges seen in the transport industry and its supply-chain are unique and given the constant changes that may arise from it, De Tarade says Wiremind is open to more innovative ideas in the future.

“We have to separate the challenges that were already there, that the pandemic made even more important, such as digitalization, and the challenges that directly stem from the pandemic itself, such as the high volatility of the passenger capacity, with direct
impact on the cargo capacity in the market,” he said.

“For the challenges that we already knew, the pandemic has acted as a magnifying glass. So, we have to stay agile enough to address needs that are suddenly urgent, not just important. That’s what we do by launching new products and services,” he added. “For the rest, the most important thing for us to do is stay close to our customers: When the capacity changes, it brings new challenges and we have to provide value to meet them.”

To harness the potential of technology on air cargo, De Tarade believes the industry should focus more on data so it can make the necessary adjustments on its operations and create more possibilities.

“I think the industry should focus on data. It always sounds very general: what data do we have or don’t have, where it is stored, how it is stored, what do we use it for, who do we share it with, etc. Looking at each of these questions takes time and requires cooperation with many stakeholders. Yet it is crucial, because it is the condition for the success of high-value projects that include Data Science models that have direct impact on revenues and costs,” he explained.

“I do feel that things are moving in the right direction though, the right level of priority is starting to be given to those topics.” As the industry re-invents itself in the face of herculean tasks during this pandemic, De Tarade it can tap technology to make things easier for its many components.

“One thing that is exciting in air cargo is the very large number of areas, departments and cases where technology can really bring value. Looking at concrete examples: customer service, where you had to send emails and follow up on the phone to simply ask for capacity information. This process can be much simpler, thanks to having integrated solutions, platforms, etc. that interact with each other,” said De Tarade. “Another example would be the flight management process. If I take the example of what Wiremind Cargo offers, we have a show-up rate algorithm that provides immediate advice as to how much no-show (and low-show) will likely happen on a flight, which is a direct way to increase efficiency and revenues,” he added.

Taking charge of threats

With the digital age comes a new global nemesis, the cyber criminals who have become more sophisticated in launching attacks against individuals and companies throughout the world, often undetected until a ransom is demanded.

As the world shifted to more remote working or hybrid work due to the pandemic, cyber attacks have risen higher with damages of $1 trillion in 2020. This year, experts believe global cybercrime damages could have reached $6 trillion, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, the world’s biggest research cybersecurity firm.

Over the next five years, cybersecurity attacks could even top $10.5 trillion in value as cyber criminals become more aggressive and sophisticated against the backdrop of a more digital world.

De Tarade said Wiremind takes cyberattacks very seriously and while there are no guarantees it won’t happen; the company has taken extraordinary steps to protect their clients.

“Cyber-attacks are an extremely serious matter. Of course, we follow the highest standards of our industry. We have a dedicated infrastructure team that has the direct responsibility of cyber security across all perimeters of the company. They are highly qualified engineers that constantly review the solutions we have in place to ensure the highest possible security level,” he said.

“These solutions involve multiple actions: several daily backups at multiple locations, 2 (sometimes 3) factor authentication, etc. But we are very much aware that most cyber-attacks are made possible not so much because of a default in the technology, but rather because of human mistakes. So, we have regular training sessions that target all staff, not just software engineers,” he added.

Threats should be anticipated and dealt with possible solutions. And unexpected situations like this pandemic have invaluable lessons that people and businesses learn from.

“Business-wise, what comes to mind first is the fact that a company should “expect the unexpected”. Sounds like a paradox, but I mean it as a state of mind: when you are considering scenarios when making decisions, do not picture the coming years as a clear horizon just because you have clear goals. Instead, picture a moving context, with multiple possibilities (both threats and opportunities),” De Tarade shared when asked about the lessons he learned from this pandemic.

“Another thing I can think of is the fact that a time like this is really the best time to look at your processes: which you must
keep, and which you can do without, at least for a while. Interestingly, I think that both of these lessons also apply at a personal level: I feel that many of us have been increasing our focus on what really matters.”