How technology will help global trade bounce back
Supply chains are only robust if they can cope during challenging times – not just the good times. Digital trade, speed of delivery, and the ability for cargo owners to see where their products are at any one time, are essential.
The digital transformation of a supply chain can drive a business’s growth, mitigate risk, optimise costs, improve visibility and predictive insights, while supporting the workforce with increasingly autonomous technologies.
But the pandemic has shone a spotlight on the relatively low digital maturity of businesses across the world. Many need to urgently reprioritise their future supply chain spending and rapidly accelerate their digital investments.
The power of tech in transforming commerce
As the pandemic took hold, businesses made major decisions to improve their supply chains – with technology very much front and centre. In our survey of executives across the world as part of our Trade in Transition report, an astonishing 83% of firms said they were reconfiguring their supply chains. And on average, firms said they were reallocating 32% of their revenue from the first half of 2020 to achieve this.
Budget priorities are increasingly focused on accelerating adoption of digital technologies and approaches. This will help streamline operations and support the redesign of supply chain processes to be more resilient, agile, and responsive to change.
It is not just the developed world making progress. Firms in emerging markets are playing catch-up to narrow the ‘ Furthermore, throughout the pandemic, many companies have embraced e-commerce in a novel way in order to compete on a global level, using the Internet of Things (IoT), for example, to move away from linear supply chain models to new digital production methods.
This was particularly evident in Asia, which had already adopted digital technology, helping to mitigate the pandemic’s effects on trade. When asked which new technology they relied on most during the pandemic, 36% of companies in Asia said IoT, 43% cloud computing, and 35% said big data and analytics.
Africa is improving its supply chains
Of course, it is not just Asian businesses that are looking to improve or strengthen their supply chains. African companies are working to deepen supplier relationships, build buffers into their supply chains, and to improve supply chain efficiency and security.
We have already seen this through the rapid adoption of DUBUY, our e-commerce platform for imports, exports, and regional trade. The platform makes it easier for markets around the world to discover African products and then buy them through a secure payment gateway and end-to-end logistics offering.
During the pandemic, African businesses looked to new markets and buyers while reducing reliance on any single raw materials source. Diversifying their supplier base was among the top two factors that will determine their approach to international trade transactions up to 2025.
Our DUBUY platform aims to connect companies digitally – in the same way DP World has traditionally connected businesses by freight, through logistics and or by product delivery. To optimise trade operations during the pandemic, 48% of African companies have relied on IoT, 26% on cloud computing and 20% on data analytics. Even after the pandemic, African companies will continue to invest in digital solutions and work towards a more efficient, diversified, and secure supply chain environment.
Improving responsiveness to changes through real-time/ predictive data analysis was the top factor that will determine firms’ approach to international trade transactions up to 2025. DUBUY can help African businesses achieve their goals by enabling large meaningful orders, providing better prices, better rates, and greater procurement selection.
The digital future is bright
Uncertain economic conditions have clearly heightened the need for digital trade, with companies seeking quicker delivery times and digital tools that allow full visibility and deeper tracking into their shipments. Digital tools overcome a number of challenges including being time poor and often using disparate and slow systems, enabling professionals to focus on growing their business.
Investing in digital transformation will help streamline operations, support the redesign of supply chain processes to be more resilient and agile, and protect against the risk of disruption to any one key supplier.
Historically, businesses have taken a piecemeal approach to change management. Digital supply chain technology often got tangled up in the experimental stage, but the pandemic changed that completely. Now, it is crucial that the industry recognises and welcomes this fundamental shift in thinking.