SITA, the leading global company that specializes in air transport communications and information technology, became a Fab Force member in 2018, and its story since then has only gotten better.
SITA, which was already a key customer of Orange Business Services, was subsequently paired up with the startup Skyrepublic through Fab Force. That collaboration was the result of our work with colleagues at OBS, and we hope to support the innovation efforts of many other OBS customers moving forward.
Together with Skyrepublic, SITA developed Smart ULD leverage, which is SITA’s new Aero Supply Chain Blockchain offering. Smart ULD tracks moving assets and digitizes related documentation. Now, Smart ULD has earned SITA (and two other companies) a nomination for IATA’s 2019 Cargo Innovation Award. This award is only handed out every two years, and the winner will receive $20,000 and the chance to present their technology at the 2019 World Cargo Symposium audience in Singapore. The winner will be announced March 14.
We sat down with two members from SITA, who were involved with Fab Force: Arnaud Brolly, who leads digital business transformation, and Aurore Duhamel, a junior product manager of IoT blockchain technologies. They discussed what they gained from their experience working with Orange Silicon Valley through the Fab Force program, and what the IATA Innovation nomination means to their company.
Orange Fab: How did SITA begin working with startups, and why do you think it’s important to have collaboration between startups and big companies?
Arnaud Brolly: Today, the product development process within big companies like ours can be a bit long. The idea of participating in a startup collaboration is to find new sources of inspiration. We have been given the opportunity to refocus some areas of work, and taking things a bit further by collaborating with a startup. We can be more agile and use time to market these kinds of collaborations, by somehow integrating and teaching the job of what the startup is doing in our portfolio.
OF: Where do you see the future of blockchain in supply chain going?
AB: We have ambitions for the startup to enhance the supply chain process in aviation by tracking, monitoring, and providing visibility from the shipper. We want to make sure that you can track all parts of this process from when goods are shipped until when they are delivered.
There is a lot of of information all injecting into the chain and whatever happens, we provide you transparency and share the visibility of whatever happening with the order For anyone to know what’s happening , better accuracy on the delivery time. But if something wrong happens, if there is a delay or the container is lost content disposed of for whatever reason it would put everybody, every tech holder on the supply chain can keep getting better and get off disruption by having this information instead of being blind.
OF: What was your company like before you collaborated with Fab and how would you compare that to where you’re at now in your history? How have you evolved?
AB: Orange Fab showcases a type of model that we want to implement into our company. Fab taught us not to get stuck on day-to-day activities; there is something bigger to focus on within the company. We also learned that innovation is not always coming from inside sources, because it is a massive force that can come from everywhere, such as Orange Fab and other startups.
Fab really helped us to open our eyes on that matter, and being in San Francisco, at the heart of innovation helped, too. It’s an inspiring place to be, and we found an interesting networking station that is unlike anywhere else in the world. By working with Fab, we were exposed to companies completely unrelated to our business, that we had nothing in common with. Now, we are working with a few companies we met through Fab.
OF: What insights did you gain from your time working with Orange Fab?
AB: We picked up on a lot of new information about technology through our time with Fab. At the beginning of the program, there were a few instances that suck out to me. There were some big speakers who had great visions for the future of tech and encouraged us to think out of the box. There were also speakers who talked about products and product solutions, and gave some concrete tangible initiative. It was a good experience learning about the market, the technology, the vision, and business ideas from startups. It was also the chance to get insight from a VC, which we’ve never done before, that was quite unique to see their view on business.
Aurore Duhamel: I also enjoyed the speakers, they were interesting and gave fresh insight, which put everyone in the mood to learn about the scope of innovation. We also learned about innovation across time, and how it is constantly evolving.
Fab gave us the experience to talk with a lot of people from different backgrounds. Everyone seemed to come into the program with an open mind, and we all wanted to develop some form of innovation. It was a different experience than just working in a corporation and working with just your team.
OF: What has happened from the start of your time with Fab up to now with your nomination for the IATA award?
AB: We are pretty lucky to be nominated for this award, and it’s all thanks to the Orange Fab event. Fab paired us with Skyrepublic and gave us a lot of confidence to spend time with startups. We finally got to develop a product line that is a combination of Skyrepublic’s ideas, and our own existing solution of package tracking and monitoring for aviation products.
OF: Can you talk a little bit about the IATA Innovation Award, and what winning this would mean to your company?
AB: This award would mean a lot because it would prove we are tweaking and improving the air cargo technology industry by finding the right solution. This is the biggest award in the air cargo industry, so it would give us validation as well. Initially, we came to this area with IoT products that we used for asset tracking, and we believe technology in the cargo industry is just getting started. The fact that we could be rewarded for our work gives me something to look forward to, and solidify our place in this industry.