Milton Keynes, UK, June 20, 2013 — According to Simon Clark, CargoWise® VP of Business Development for EMEA, the current economic conditions provide an excellent reason to invest in tools to make your business more productive.
It’s hard to think back to a more interesting, or more challenging, time for logistics and transport companies, he says. While some dark economic clouds continue to hover over many parts of the world, there is a silver lining. The lingering effects of the financial crisis provide the perfect excuse to invest in new systems to make your company more competitive and enable you to hold onto existing business.
It’s a well-recognized, but slightly odd, economic contradiction: in downturns, innovation booms. In good times, companies historically spend less on infrastructure, become less innovative, and as a result, productivity flatlines.
The principle challenge is not whether or not to invest in technology in order to survive; it lies in figuring out which technology to invest in to best cater to those areas of the economy which are growing. And it doesn’t matter which industry you look to, there’s always some expansion, as one area declines there will always be another developing to take its place.
Traditional retail is feeling the economic effects as consumers turn away from large stores and increasingly opt to do their shopping in smaller local retailers, or buy their goods online. For transport and logistics companies, this might mean looking for ways to cater to many small stores, rather than a few large ones, or to leverage sophisticated data and technological innovation to move into the world of e-tail. And immense opportunities for transport and logistics companies also exist as a result of people all over the world looking to cut out the middle man and save money by going straight to the provider.
Times of transition require new ways of thinking and new ways of operating. For logistics and transport companies this means finding ways to cut their costs, increase productivity, expand into new geographies and offer new services. Logistics service providers are well positioned to gain new business, so long as they have the proper software to provide both the wholesaler and the customer with the right data in a timely manner.
Freight forwarders, for example, might look to diversify into customs clearance, warehousing or purchase order management in an effort to offer a more complete service to existing customers, and perhaps even win more business. Similarly, domestic transport operators need to look for new revenue streams by adopting the new technologies to cater to more highly specialized sectors of the economy.
As luck would have it, over the last few years, a number of technologies have emerged that strip much of the cost, and therefore most of the risk, out of technological adoption. Cloud computing makes it possible to adopt software at a fraction of the cost of traditional, internally-hosted systems because upfront fees are massively reduced, and there’s no need to buy or maintain servers. Good software providers are also increasingly expanding the range of services they integrate into a single platform, increasing visibility and reducing the need to re-key data. As a result, businesses have been able to dramatically boost productivity while keeping costs under control.
Flexible, web-based learning systems are also making it possible for businesses of all sizes and budgets to obtain access to excellent training resources in a flexible and affordable manner. All of these factors are making adopting new processes and technologies a more affordable option, even for the smallest, or most niche transport and logistics operators.
The most important thing to remember is not to lose hope. It is possible to grow through the current economic crisis, and while it will force many businesses to go outside of their comfort zone, those companies that survive the downturn will be perfectly placed to boom when the good times return.
Simon Clark is Vice President - Business Development Europe for CargoWise®
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