Reshaping logistics in 2020: 5 trends to watch for

We’re already two months into the new decade and everything seems promising as we’re navigating our way through 2020. One thing’s for sure, the supply chain branch will never have a dull moment.

Today’s logistics challenges

Lately, we’ve been witnessing some challenges that many companies in the supply chain industry have been facing. From demands regarding e-commerce services to geopolitical uncertainties, this branch has seen it all.The fast-pacing globalization is here to stay, whether we like it or not. The world is more connected than ever and the logistics industry felt it first. It has increased the complexity of the way things were done before and it is also increasing customer’s expectations. There is tremendous more data than ever, but it is only valuable when leveraged properly, and it will definitely improve outcomes in the supply chain business. Also, some geopolitical uncertainties can cause real challenges across the industry. From the ongoing Brexit to the China-US trade war, the transportation chain can suffer some serious setbacks.Last but not least, one of the most important challenges that the supply chain professionals are facing nowadays is meeting the latest technological demands. It is a game of mindsets for most of them.

Challenging as it might be, technology, especially in this industry, can provide much more than anything else. It promises stable and natural growth to the company and it helps it become amongst the best on the market. A true and trustworthy technological partner can guide you through the whole digital transformation process.Some companies have managed to meet current needs, but some couldn’t keep up with the times and sank. There isn’t a moment more opportune like the current one to face the truth and embrace change. Times are indeed changing and technology is playing a huge part in all aspects of our lives.So what does this new year have in store for the supply chain industry you ask? We’ve analysed 5 major trends that promise to bring a lot of improvements technology-wise with the potential for better business. Let’s dive in.

Customer-facing APIs

Customers are more and more receptive to innovative shipping & tracking solutions. A shipping API is used to welcome your audience into any given process. Let’s just think about it, this type of software can tell you exactly in which stage your parcel is at any given time. Their main goal is to assure the client that they are in control of their purchase, to make them feel like they’ve already got it. The tracking software can let them know via email or text message the latest updates regarding the package.Being customer-centric is one of the biggest advantages any supply chain company should benefit from. A happy client is a returning client, and usually, it doesn’t return alone. With that in mind, we really need to think about providing the best value possible to the customer, which ultimately means understanding the impact of technology trends in the transport and logistics process and to really let the customer be part of everything that’s happening, every step of the way.

Cybersecurity solutions

These new and engaging software products that boosted the informational sharing side of the process, use all the more data than before. Thus, keeping everything in check and secure could be more challenging. This is exactly why, when we’re planning out any digital transformation efforts, we should always consider asking the right questions regarding its future cybersecurity outcome. Having a proactive approach regarding security will solve a lot of time and money in the future.Let’s talk about an actual case of data negligence, that happened to a Canadian company named Level One Robotics. In 2018, the firm exposed over 157 gigabytes of sensitive data from over 100 manufacturers by storing it on a publicly accessible server. Industry experts concluded that Level One Robotics’ data breach is an example of a fundamental security misunderstanding around internet-facing systems. This kind of breach represents a significant risk for supply chains simply because everyone wants to keep their sensitive information confidential, from manufacturers to employees. If not discovered, this breach could have generated some long-term negative effects for the company, such as sabotage of current operations and giving competitors an unfair advantage by accessing this data.Living in an era where the most important asset we possess is information, let’s make sure we provide it with the best protection there is. This is probably one of the most important technological aspects that definitely need our undivided attention.

Data as a Service (DaaS): Analytics & AI

The logistics scene will be moulded by technology even more in 2020 and data will be at the center of everything. Companies will experience further noteworthy access to information, and data interpretation will play a new and improved part in this story. The ability to leverage analytics and artificial knowledge for better and faster decision making remains unprecedented.Artificial intelligence and other similar practices have the capacity to break down all information with advanced and open mechanisms. This new and improved flood of data stands at the very core of transformative and innovative leadership decisions. Some companies could benefit tremendously from such practices, thus forming a more prominent dexterity handling different supply chain-related challenges.Brian Hodgson, VP of Industry Procedure for the logistics technology supplier Descartes had some interesting thoughts on this matter.“With the growth of networks and information, the capacity to use analytics for better and quicker basic leadership is remarkable.

New technology for perception and benchmarking is advancing into operational groups to empower progressively dexterous supply chains. As the information quality builds, artificial insight can additionally quicken supply anchors by utilizing information to improve bearer choice, distinguish new wellsprings of items, arrange items for worldwide exchange all the more rapidly.”Data and the way we interpret it does play a huge role in decision-making strategies across the industry. But there are still some things that an organization can do to maximize the labour – profit – productivity triangle.

Robotics in Logistics

There is an emerging trend that could have a positive and profound impact on society. The development of advanced robotics already has some testing grounds in fields like medicine, helping surgeons perform less invasive procedures, or in areas where humans would face great risks, like removing landmines or supporting the recovery from natural disasters. Let’s not forget about our little domestic helpers that make our living easier just by performing simple tasks like vacuuming the floors or mowing the lawn. Some of these robots are already impacting our lives by eliminating dangerous, repetitive, tedious and boring tasks, allowing us to focus on things that matter.In the logistics industry, robotics technology has not yet made a huge impact. Some warehouses (about 5% of them) and sorting centres have adopted such helpers and even compensated for the low labour availability that threatens the industry more and more every day. This may sound extremely futuristic but have no fear, the future is already here. The technology supporting this is being tested and implemented in more centres as we speak. It does require a certain mindset and availability towards growth to start a conversation about robotics technology.

IoT Solutions

We keep hearing this term, IoT. Its popularity has taken off across the globe. IoT stands for Internet of Things and basically sums up any man-made device/physical object that’s connected using sensors and APIs to share data over the internet. From chic smartwatches to complex gears that can help even supply chain professionals to optimise their workload properly. In the logistics industry, IoT can play a centre role, in terms of optimisation, productivity and innovation. Here are a few areas where IoT can create a significant impact.Fleet management aims to reduce downtime and schedule the most cost-effective routes. A smart fleet management system plays a heavy part in streamlining the operations in a better way. Plus, it saves up a lot of time and even helps in accurately maintaining data, by replacing a lot of manual work.Warehouse management is probably one of the most crucial parts of a supply chain business. An effective and operational practice of such warehouse helps the organization in achieving a more profitable outcome. IoT-enabled mobile devices can help in tracking vehicles and inventory data. It will also reduce different damages such as goods shrinkage, consumed fuel, and wasted time.Optimizing warehouses and order fulfillments with robotics and IoT technology doesn’t come easy, but more and more companies are starting to look into these solutions to simplify their processes. Consumers are constantly pushing for more innovative methods in the logistics branch, expecting a faster and more efficient approach.

Do you think technology should be a top priority for your company?

We certainly believe so. The market is going through a constant change. It is of great importance that we find the best ways to stay on top of this constant wind of change, and in our current times, that can only mean to include better technology on the priorities list. The digital transformation process can be extremely overwhelming, but rest assured, that if you have the right partner by your side, things will seem clear again, and the path to success easier.Our colleague Botond Gagyi will be in Stuttgart for the LogiMAT event between 10 and 12 March. He is more than happy to have a conversation regarding your current plans and challenges and even offer accurate solutions based on our experience navigating the IT landscape in the last decade.Contact him on Xing or LinkedIn and schedule a talk. Or better yet a call at +49(0)170 48 53 770.

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