Back in February, CNS announced that Michael R. White had been appointed as the organization’s new president. Since joining in 2008, White has held several roles at CNS, most recently as vice president of government and industry relations, where he led CNS operations for advocacy, industry events, the CNS Cargo Agency Settlement System (CASS) and daily operations. Just before the start of the CNS Partnership Conference in Palm Springs, Air Cargo World editor Randy Woods sat down with Mike White to talk about his priorities and vision for the future during his term as CNS president:
Q: What issue do you consider your greatest priority for your first year as head of CNS?
Mike White: My main priority now is what I call “the year of the customer.” This is the year I want to hear what is it the industry wants. I’ve already had a couple of visits to Los Angeles, to Chicago, and of course I will be having a lot of discussions in Palm Springs. My customers are broad; it’s not just airlines, it’s forwarders as well, and the intermediaries that make the cargo move. Security definitely is going to be one of the main focuses. We’ve got some things going on this year with the final Air Cargo Advanced Screening [ACAS] rule that probably will be coming out in the next few weeks. They will require the transfer of cargo data prior to it being put on the aircraft. That’s going to be huge. We’re also looking at how we can better communicate. We’re going to have some focus groups of forwarders and carriers to look at what they’re using for communication, and find out what the best methods are.
Q: What will the role be for the CNS Advisory Board be under your tenure?
MW: I am lucky to have probably the only body of its kind. Where else do you have airlines, forwarders, airports, ground handlers — all of that in one place? They are my ears. What I need from them is not the aspect of them wearing their company hat but wearing their industry hat — what is it that we can do for the industry? That’s what I’ve been focused on for years. The more that I can do that with the Advisory Board, the better. If anything, I think I’m pushing them a little bit further this year in asking them what are the key issues that they want.
Q: The theme of the CNS Partnership Conference is “Preparing for Tomorrow’s Reality.” What does that mean to CNS in 2018?
MW: Particularly in the last two years, we’ve seen a dramatic growth in air cargo. I don’t think e-commerce is going away anytime soon. Otherwise the stock value of the e-commerce companies would be going down. We’ve got to become more prepared for it because ultimately the customers want to see information. We’ve got to tie in the trucking side, we’ve got to tie in the warehouse side. Between Point A and Point B, there’s a lot more points in between that we forget about.
Q: How is CNS encouraging digitalization? What are the organization’s immediate goals?
MW: We’ve been focused for the last 10 years on the e-air-waybill. We’ll continue to work on those particular issues, but what’s really of interest right now is the IATA ONE Record. The ONE Record is a real plug-and-play system allowing user to transfer data between companies. That’s been one of the main challenges in the whole digital revolution. We’ve got different languages, but the computers can talk to each other — you’ve just got to pick the mechanism in the middle to do it. How do we tie in these parties to talk together — how do I get trucking companies who may be on one platform to talk to a warehouse operator on another? I think ONE Record is really going to be the focus of where we go.
Q: What are some of the other strategies the CNS Team plans to focus on?
MW: The Innovation Stage at the conference this year is a start to try to bring in new ideas to CNS. Not all of it is related, but that’s what we want to do more and more — to bring in many new ideas and figure out how to design things, instead of having to bring in some finished product that’ll be out of fashion probably in two or three years. Another focus is education. We will continue to have outreach. We’re going to focus with our CNS “Need to Know” events around the country in the second half of this year. But we’re going to be mainly focused on the launch of ACAS. With the electronic and security issues, ACAS draws in a lot of players. It also pushes the freight forwarding community and the direct shippers — they have to send their data earlier in the chain electronically. I think ACAS is going to revolutionize the way we send and receive electronic data. We support the government’s push to do ACAS. We’ve been waiting for this rule for quite some time, and we know it can work.
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