Our world is increasingly digital, increasingly connected. Have Container Management practices kept up?
Keeping up doesn't just mean the adoption of the most up to date logistics technology. Keeping up in today's world relates to the ability to connect and leverage the information that's available to you. Whatever the information - whether it's your own historical data, weather conditions updates, or key industry stats in a sector you ship to – the more you have, the better your decisions will be, and the easier it will be to plan for growth and success.
Whether you look to academic think tanks, industry leaders or social media entrepreneurs for your inspiration, a major shift in business thinking has occurred in the last few years. Across all industry, we are beginning to see that shared data, good networks and cross-platform communication are the keys to success.
Information and networks to get you ahead
At 1-Stop we believe that a well-connected port community will have access to more informative data about containers and will be better able to make optimal decisions. If vessels are delayed due to bad weather, players who have access to that information will be able to make fast, informed decisions, for example redeploying their fleet for alternate jobs and alerting their customers. The ability to access information, act quickly on it and communicate out to a customer network will put the savvy operator far ahead of the game.
Better data makes better decisions
From 'Big data' to tiny databases, the better your data and the more of it you have access to, the better decisions you can make.
In the old world, organisations held on to data, keeping it 'safe' from competitors. In our new digital world, data is easy to manage and often freely available. Having inaccessible or hard-copy data is no longer a benefit. In fact it can hamper your ability to plan and to think on your feet.
Consolidated data from multiple sources helps an entire industry do better, lifting up individual operators as well.
Eliminate double handling
Better data, stored accessibly and shared within the industry will inevitably lead to better decisions. We've already discussed that. But there's another value to a better connected port community – the elimination of the need to key container numbers and other information in multiple times.
Currently, a single container number is rekeyed in multiple unconnected databases and documents before the cargo leaves Australia.
Imagine if the container's journey was mapped in such a way that each step along the way the data could be viewed, analysed and updated, with no guesswork, no blind spots, and real time information. Imagine the kind of planning and efficiencies you could build in if the container number were entered in once and then handed off during the journey from operator to operator. Imagine the level of customer service you could provide, keeping your valued customers informed and creating an extraordinary experience for them.
Data is not the same as IP
Does sharing data makes you vulnerable to competitors? It's a common concern, but increasingly we're seeing that it's unfounded. It's never data alone that provides success. Instead it's what you do with it. Your organisation's intellectual property resides in how you use data, the processes you build around it and the procedures you follow.
It follows that the more data you have and the better you use it, the better you'll be as an operator. The challenges for our industry are to put the technology in place so that we have faster and better access to more reliable and up-to-date data. The technology is already on its way, and being deployed across our industry.
The greater challenge for us all is to accept that connections, sharing and open access to the information will create advantages for our entire industry. The digital age is a game-changer, and the benefits for all of us are enormous.
Michael Bouari, CEO, 1-Stop Connections
This article first appeared in Shipping Australia Ltd's Annual Review 2015