Interview with Won-Ki Kim, Head of Container Business Unit(CBU)
1. Please give us a brief introduction about yourself.
I am Won-Ki Kim, Head in charge of Container Business Unit. I have worked for CyberLogitec for about seven years, and before I joined the company, I had worked for eighteen years for Hanjin Shipping. So far, I have experienced various areas of the shipping industry such as purchase, marketing, duty as international branch manager, sea route planning, sharing tonnage through liner alliances, and management planning. In 2005, leading SEM (strategic enterprise management) for Hanjin Shipping’s PI (process innovation), I came to know the score about company management and planning task. After we finished the project, I was able to put my experience to use when I came to serve as Management Administration Team Manager.
After I moved to CyberLogitec, I came to work as International Marketing Team Manager, delivering IT solutions to the global market. Afterwards, I served as Marketing Planning Team Manager and head of Maritime Business Unit before I was appointed Head of Container Business Unit, thus working in the field and piling up experience as a leader. When I first took up the duty of International Marketing Team Manager, I focused on delivering to North America and Spain terminal operating systems such as OPUS Terminal. Since then, leading the container solution marketing, I have built a customer network through updating the list of container shipping companies and analyzing them. In the early days of our container solution marketing, we had practically no contact points with liners and had only a modicum of information on the market. Therefore, we first updated the list for eighteen target accounts, and by meting one after another of them, we have built our business network.
2. What is your memorable project or work experience?
I remember and cherish all the projects in which I participated directly or indirectly. Of them all, I particularly remember leading the user side in the SEM for Hanjin Shipping’s PI project. Previously, I had experienced small-scale IT projects such as the application of tonnage tax, but the PI project was an opportunity to broaden my experience through small and large things.
As a manager working for Hanjin Shipping, I was appointed manager for a marketing branch newly created in Budapest, Hungary. While registering the marketing office and hiring employees, I built its foundation and then made it bigger. I have felt proud to watch the office get a series of new managers and upgrade to a branch as it is.
More cently, working as the owner of the project for creating container operating system and upgrading ERP system for Heung-A Shipping, I handled communication with customers. The project may be said to be significant as the first case in which I delivered solutions to a container liner outside Hanjin Shipping. The Heung-A Shipping project posed a lot of difficulties, as it was a broad one, comprising the full gamut of the company’s operations including ERP, par exemple. All systems have risks embedded in their introduction, but the project posed greater difficulty as it had to be delivered with a short period of 8 months. By overcoming such difficulty thanks to our staff’s had work and through cooperation with the customer, we successfully opened the system, which is stably used by the customer.
3. What does CBU do?
The container liners of the world are customers for CBU. We are providing major liners in different parts of the world including global container liners with a liner operating system that is designed to perform shipping business. There’s a company called Alpha Liner, specializing in container-related research. The company announces every day top 100 liners, and we have this ambitious goal of supplying to those top 100 liners their needed solutions.
A liner operating system is a very complex and exquisite system. Since a container liner regularly operates their container ships to specific ports as a bus company does, they must be supplied with ship schedule management and container management features. For example, those containers delivered from East Asia to the US more often than not return empty. To help a liner reduce costs by managing such superfluities, empty container repositioning is incorporated into the system.
Also, the solution also includes documentation that creates a bill of lading based on the booking received from a shipper as well as such features as pricing and marketing that are required in business marketing. Such a variety of functions are either provided as a single solution or in separate modules. For example, the IMDG module designed to manage dangerous cargo, which is a recent interest with liners, can be used by easily interfacing it with the existing system even when liners adopt IMDG module alone.
One single difficulty involved in solution sales is the long lead time in the business marketing. A liner operating system is high-priced, and takes long until a decision is reached because it exerts great influence on the liner’s framework. In this light, the role of CBU is to develop solutions that fit the needs of market and customers and supply an assortment of systems, and even implement them in the way that is customized to a specific liner’s business traits.
Our strength lies in a system that provides a global integrated view and our experience in having successfully created it for a good number of liners.
We are not the only operator in this area, and there are a lot of companies that supply liner operating systems. While some large global IT companies often create SI for different liners based with their general type of IT-based skills, we think that they are not so specialized in shipping industry. There are a number of small-sized shipping-related IT firms in different regions. While their systems can cover regional business to some extent, they lack many of the functions with regard to a global single view, which is required by global liners that do business across continents. In comparison, OPUS Container, the liner operating system from CyberLogitec, provides a single view for global liners, based on the knowledge in global shipping that it has accumulated for last 30 years.
Furthermore, recently through our brisk communication with Asia-based liners, we are supplying liner operating system to a number of liners, and as liners are greatly satisfied with their use of the system, an increasing number of liners now consider adopting OPUS Container.
4. What are current issues in the market, and how do you think the market will proceed?
I see a growing demand from replacing liner operating systems with products from specialized solution suppliers. Many liners either use operating systems that their IT teams have developed or those that have been developed in the form of SI that taps into the basic technology from large IT companies. However, when we meet up with those liners and check on their currently used systems, they more often than not turn out with far poorer quality than we previous expected they would be. It’s either because the systems, acquired long ago, have grown outdated, or because their long-accumulated business knowledge hasn’t been sufficiently reflected in the systems.
Expected liners’ needs with regard to a system may be classified into two broad categories, depending on their size.
As far as the operating system for small-and-medium-sized liners is concerned, there will be a major improvement on such basic functions as booking, documentation, and equipment management.
On the other hand, since major global liners are sufficiently equipped with basic functions, they look more to efficiency upgrade through an operating system than to just an upgrade of the basic functions for their system. For example, those major liners whose size is growing want to place under a single view their global office management. Those liners that use different systems supplied by local providers are rarely equipped with systems that can cover all part of the world including Europe and North America. The systems that are used by different regional offices of a liner are not integrated by the main office, thus failing to allow efficient information sharing among regions, which leads to operational redundancy or inefficiency. As liners want to address such issues, we will see an increased demand for single-view feature such as Global Single Instance of OPUS Container.
Also, global liners are facing increasingly complex decision-making as they operate on an increasing number of sea routes and expand tonnage swap with alliances. As for sea routes for North America and Europe, now they need to manage several tens or hundreds of sea routes. Under such circumstances, when a booking clerk receives booking from a shipper, the person faces a number of choices as to which sea route is going to be used from an origin to a destination and how to handle transshipment, and the information in an individual person’s brain alone cannot achieve an optimized choice. Faced with such difficult decisions, liners are expected to more frequently use in their decision-making the analytic data provided by an operating system.
5. How are you responding to market issues?
To satisfy such needs for a system, OPUS Container provides an integrated Single View that realizes Single Instance for liners. For this purpose, the software not only integrates and standardizes various data generated from worldwide offices, but also structuralizes it in the way of reflecting tasks specific to different regions. In the past, software just presented a view of an entire route plan or transshipment sector, whereas the current CyberLogitec links system segmented data in a logical way to Single View by applying the concepts of navigation sector, load, and link.
To be specific, a booking clerk, who receives data from a shipper based on a product catalogue, does so in such a way that the person analyzes the current operation data and the past operation performance and cost to come up with sector-specific data before he or she recombines them. At this juncture, as the software enables it to figure out at a glance a lot of data including route data, route-specific cost, total transit time, and space and equipment available for different routes, it allows improvement of a clerk’s work and effective cost control.
Currently, we are drawing attention from major liners as we supply a liner operating system equipped with such features to liners in Asia such as Heung-A Shipping and Kambara Kisen, and we are taking advantage of that to expand our global network.
6. Looking ahead, what is the operational goal for CBU?
In airline industry, there’s a system provider called Amadeus, whose system is used by most airliners. CBU aims to become an Amadeus-like service provider for the shipping industry. As it has been developed and advanced to a considerable extent through its longtime experience, OPUS Container has reached a stage where it is not easy for any company to imitate it. By reflecting in the solution customer feedback for additional improvements, we will continue to upgrade it and promote it to liners.
Container business has continuously grown for last four years in a row, but what should be more important than its erstwhile achievement is to identify its future growth engine. As when riding a bike, if you do not keep pedaling away, you cannot move forward and must stop.
Also, we’d like to create a corporate culture that ensures a happy work place for individual employees and see that the company will thereby register continued growth. I think that happiness for individual employees of the unit is as important as the growth for the company. So, we are working to create a harmonious workplace where all employees feel happy at work.
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