Harnessing technology for the post-pandemic boom

Harnessing technology for the post-pandemic boom

As organisations prepare to bounce back from the disruption caused by Covid-19, the majority are turning to technology to fuel their post-pandemic growth.

Our survey of 3,800 individuals for the inaugural DP World Trade in Transition report confirms this, with almost every company surveyed adopting at least one new technology approach due to the challenges that emerged throughout the pandemic.

More specifically, 40% of respondents said they had embraced cloud computing for the first time and 38% the Internet of Things. Meanwhile, a third are now using big data analytics and 16% have invested in robotics or enhanced automation.

As somebody leading a Logistics and Technology organisation within DP World, I find these findings encouraging. They show that businesses are moving quickly to embrace digital tools to support transformation across the logistics industry.

"Historically, infrastructure-heavy industries such as logistics were highly fragmented in moving their applications to the cloud. But Covid has been a catalyst for many."

Only a few months into the pandemic – in July 2020 – the OECD urged companies to do exactly this, stressing that the increased use of digital technologies can expedite cross border processes and improve logistical efficiency. Our research suggests that organisations are embracing this message, realising that digital adoption will be key to significant efficiencies and supply chain resilience.

The considerable uptick in organisations embracing the cloud is particularly encouraging. Historically, infrastructure-heavy industries such as logistics were highly fragmented in moving their applications to the cloud. But Covid has been a catalyst for many.

Cloud migration at scale

Enterprise spending on cloud infrastructure services such as Saas, PaaS, and hosted private cloud services for the third quarter of 2020 hit $65 billion, up 28% on the same period in 2019, according to Synergy Research. The importance of this should not be overlooked. Adoption of cloud technologies ensures networked operations are uniform, adding enormously to efficiency.

At DP World, we recognised this nearly a decade ago, which is why we dedicated time and resources to developing a new suite of enterprise and trade finance solutions under the CARGOES brand.

CARGOES Finance, for example, is a new service by DP World which enables trade finance solutions to small and medium-sized businesses. It does this by bringing clients seeking financing together with our partnered Banks and NBFCs via the platform. Clients can select the most suitable product(s) from a number of finance products and have their working capital needs met at competitive interest rates.

CARGOES Runner, meanwhile, is an Enterprise Resource Planning suite which is helping small and medium-sized freight forwarders to manage enterprise level operations more efficiently.

Growth fuelled trading environment

Global trade is about to enter a phenomenal period of growth, with trade forecast to increase by 8% in 2021, having fallen some 5.3% during 2020, according to World Trade Organization data. However, this resurgence will be uneven and will require solutions which improve supply chain resilience and trade transparency – a theme I covered recently in a live broadcast on LinkedIn.

The aforementioned DP World Trade in Transition report also offers some insights about how companies are tweaking their operational models to anticipate the challenges that face them in the future.

The responses from US survey participants, for example, were particularly illuminating, with 23% stating that predictive data, or real-time data analytics will be the factor most likely to have the largest impact on how businesses conduct international trade in the future. This trend isn’t unique to North America, either. Some 20% of respondents in Africa said that data analytics would be key to enhancing corporate responsiveness in the post-pandemic world.

The use of real-time and predictive data analysis was earmarked as the top factor likely to determine approaches to international trade transactions between now and 2025.

These insights, and others like them inform how we grow our future operations. We expect our customers to be seeking yet further innovation in the months ahead to drive post-pandemic growth. With that in mind, we are developing further enhancements in-house and through strategic partnerships. We are also continuing to invest in strategically important organisations such as SeaRates.

I believe that these commitments, coupled with our significant physical infrastructure, will ensure we can continue to drive forward efficiency, particularly in those countries where logistic inefficiency has historically harmed corporate margins, and dragged on economic growth.

[1]The first survey of 3,000 respondents was conducted between January and March 2020 and the second survey of 800 respondents was conducted between October and November 2020.