Logistics in 2020: Technology

Technology is, by its very nature, constantly evolving. By the beginning of the 21st century, businesses
in almost every sector were already reliant on increasingly sophisticated telecommunications and IT. By
the beginning of the second decade, many western markets could boast a mobile phone in use for every
member of the population, and doing business without smart phones and handheld devices would be

Here are some of the key technology developments the logistics industry will be affected by in 2020:

Generation Z/the post-90s generation have entered the market, as both consumers and

employees. Having grown up using email, social networking and communications technology
such as mobile /smart phones, MP3 players, laptops/tablets and games consoles, they have never
known a world without them. Adept at switching between multiple platforms, formats and devices,
they expect to utilize the technology they are familiar with in the work environment, accelerating
the prevalence of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in industries heavily reliant on the timely transfer
of data, such as logistics. They are uncompromising in their expectations from the retail supply
chain. Shopping around online, globally, for the best price and choice, they expect same day or
rapid delivery either free or low-cost, with defined time slots, and demand choices on where there
goods will be delivered.

Cloud technology will be widely adopted, and enabling the sharing and re-use of data more

comprehensively than ever before. As the natural progression to a shared physical and financial
flow, a shared flow of information and documentation will increasingly exist, improving visibility
and efficiency throughout the supply chain. In logistics this brings major benefits, e.g. the
streamlining of international customs declarations and improved accuracy of follow-on activity
The diagram above illustrates the example of goods passing through the supply chain from point of production in, for example China, via a local LSP and fulfilling local and international customs requirements before being transported via a global freight forwarder to Europe. Here they again clear customs before being processed by a local LSP and finally delivered to the customer – a major retailer. Ideally, at each stage the next partner in the supply chain makes use of the previous partner’s data, enriching it, augmenting it and sharing it onwards.

Data as a Service (DaaS) has started to become a reality. LSPs have begun to exchange data as they

previously did with other assets such as staff, real estate/public warehouse, trucks, etc, improving
efficiency and reducing costs. This is partly driven by a desire to improve the quantity and quality
of data shared and partly by necessity as road carriers in particular partner and sub-contract one
another with greater frequency.

Smart phones have become a commodity in use by everyone from children to the elderly and are

used extensively for business and pleasure. Email is now largely a thing of the past - the majority
of messages are sent via instant messaging and social media and contain less than 156 characters.
Marketing/service providers have adapted their offerings accordingly, and the larger LSPs have
issued and regularly update smartphone apps for their supply chain partners.

Touch screens are everywhere – at both home and work - and give a new dimension to the user

experience. Businesses with more complex operations, such as multiple languages and currencies,
sometimes struggle to keep up with a complete change to touch screen. On the plus side, training
requirements and support calls have reduced, due to the intuitiveness of touch screen on the

Source: Kewill

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