Windward really enjoyed Manifest: The Future of Supply Chain & Logistics. We engaged in many interesting discussions at our booth and during the happy hours we hosted. And Matan Peled, our Co-Founder and Head of U.S. Business, participated in a panel discussion on the role of AI and big data in the supply chain.
While walking around the HUGE venue – I took 56,947 steps 👣! – I thought about some of my takeaways from the week…
1. Perspectives Changed Since Last Year
Last year at the event, conversations seemed to focus more on visibility and being able to closely track containers. Most organisations have moved beyond that in 2024, if Manifest was a reliable indicator.
Buyers are clearly done with legacy systems (“Out with the old, in with the new”) and trying to squeeze the most out of older software. There was a real sense of needing to invest with the right partners, now.
The people we spoke with want a holistic picture, starting with the container and moving to the overall ecosystem – ports, transshipments, the value chain, etc. – to enable global trade.
It seems as if some of the challenges in 2023, such as the Russia-Ukraine war and accompanying sanctions, as well as extreme weather events, port congestion and the Houthi disruptions, shifted industry personnel from a micro to a macro outlook.
2. Buyers and VCs are Savvy
Manifest participants were quick to ask Windward personnel what “AI” really means. Unfortunately, it has become an industry buzzword, with everyone seemingly jumping on the bandwagon. It’s important to find an AI vendor with at least a decade of experience and specialised maritime expertise, as opposed to costly outsourced options.
Windward’s AI-powered insights are based on over a decade of proprietary data, to enhance visibility and detect threats in real-time, and our maritime experts are constantly upgrading and enhancing our AI models based on their industry expertise.
Additionally, quite a few potential technology buyers said to me, “Tell me what you’re bad at.” It was refreshing to meet uncompromising budget owners who didn’t have the time or patience to hear the same old recycled pitch…
My conversations at the event were extremely focused and relevant. They mostly fit into two categories:
- Adding an ocean leg for organisations that don’t have
- Understanding the gap in organisation’s transportation management system (TMS) vs. what Windward can provide
Attendees also seemed to understand that a viable API solution must be more than just data trends and visualisations. It should deliver real AI insights directly into an organisation’s workflows and systems.
There were quite a few venture capital firms in attendance at Manifest. It’s nice to see that Supply Chain companies are top of the billing for investment.
3. Let’s Speak the Same Language
Many people I spoke with complained about the difficulties in sharing information and speaking the same language – aka the current lack of supply chain standardisation. Milestone tracking is critical for importers, exporters, and freight forwarders, but which milestones should be tracked? How should they be tracked?
Windward implemented a new standard of accuracy in our Ocean Freight Visibility solution. To help customers overcome a lack of standardisation, we rebuilt our entire OFV data layer architecture. Windward has incorporated The Digital Container Shipping Association’s (DCSA’s) API events, main principles, and concepts into our architecture.
With major industry players involved, this will be the future standard. The documentation and definitions are defined by industry specialists and software developers, ensuring they are designed for industry needs. It will be difficult to accurately track containers and share info without adopting this standard.
4. Bigger Isn’t Better?
Manifest 2024 was an excellent experience and extremely productive. I have one suggestion, at the risk of going against an established American ethos – bigger isn’t always better. The 2024 event was twice the size this year, but that made for less footfall and some sparse areas of the floor, sometimes making it harder to find the right people to converse with.
I look forward to seeing everyone at next year’s event!