American Global Logistics (AGL), a supply chain software and services company based out of Atlanta, has joined BiTA as a member, to explore and develop blockchain standards for the freight industry along with major logistics players in the alliance.
To Jon Slangerup, the Chairman, and CEO of AGL, being at the forefront of supply chain technology advancement is nothing new. Before taking up the reins of AGL, Slangerup was running the port of Long Beach, when the port was going through technology upheavals with a lot of communication issues that were ubiquitous all across the West Coast.
“I launched a local initiative called the supply chain optimization, which involved everyone in the supply chain - from the ocean carriers all the way to the BCOs, including the freight and rail guys, terminal operators and everyone in between,” says Slangerup. “I quickly realized that this wasn’t just for the port of Long Beach, but can be a broader initiative. The whole process of doing this initiative was to talk about the future of communication and information management across the complex maritime supply chain.”
The marine supply chain is highly fragmented, silo-driven with nearly no tangible standards for communication, and lacked an information backbone - leading to a complete dearth of end-to-end visibility. Blockchain, Slangerup believes, could be an opportunity to start looking at ways to drive efficiency through the supply chain, which could spur enormous financial benefits to all the stakeholders in the chain.
“The technology is out there and is evolving very rapidly. The goal of joining BiTA is to really make sure that platforms are compliant with standards and with the ability to secure data,” notes Slangerup. “One of the biggest concerns you come across in the industry is not the technology itself, but the willingness of people to trust the system.”
The concern holds a lot of water - all the players in the space, be it the ocean carriers, terminal operators, or the BCOs, own a lot of sensitive customer information like financial data, rates, and contract information, which is not just proprietary but also viewed upon as competitive advantage.
“Companies are resistant to sharing or being part of a common system, whereby proprietary information could be compromised,” adds Slangerup. “Blockchain conceptually could eliminate that barrier of trusting the system to secure the information being shared within the system. This is what I like about blockchain and why I think BiTA is on the right track in terms of trying to focus on standards that anyone who plays in the space can feel secure about.”
Being a company that constantly looks for a competitive edge, AGL wants to be part of BiTA and influence the development of the blockchain standards. “I think that from a typical learning perspective, nobody really knows what this thing is going to look like - we all have a bigger view of what it would look like, but it still is a learning process,” insists Slangerup. “Being at the table is very important to us, as it has both a practical competitive value and a very compelling strategic value.”
Slangerup also mentions that AGL would be announcing a significant set of initiatives revolving around the platform that they have established, with a newer version of the application that has been heavily enhanced. “We certainly will be working with some of our key customers on their own initiatives around blockchain, and I believe we would be announcing projects in the May to June timeframe,” he adds.
AGL’s customer base is in the small to the mid-sized range of companies, where AGL strives to help its clients optimize their supply chain and effectively manage the movement of goods through their system. “We are serving a part of the market that has tougher competitive challenges and risks when compared to the bigger players - they don’t face the same constraints in resources that the smaller companies do,” concludes Slangerup. “We are helping bring value in that regard and make them more competitive in this rapidly changing world.”
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