By: Martin Wallgren, Chief Information Officer at GAC Group
Since 2016, the container shipping industry has turned to mergers and acquisitions as a key way to tackle the difficult market conditions that arose from the 2008 global financial crisis. The trend has been seen both in horizontal acquisitions between companies in the same space, and also in strong vertical market moves, as container shipping companies expand further into logistics to expand their coverage of the supply chain.
Vertical integration unleashes the potential of digitalisation. Shipping and logistics companies are now harnessing digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain to bring supply chain data to life and provide better end-to-end services for customers.
Age of data
Digitalisation gives ship agents the adaptability to provide smart data which shipping and logistics industries now demand. In the past, information on the status of spare parts was held by marine logistics providers responsible for picking, storing and consolidating them for delivery to vessels and offshore platforms. Now, asset owners and operators expect to have status reports at their fingertips in their own systems, giving them greater operational control and the ability to address supply chain issues to boost productivity and safety.
With staff numbers down as a result of the “Great Resignation”, valuable insights garnered from smart data can no longer be curated and maintained in-house. Instead, businesses are turning to suppliers for the information they need to make critical business decisions.
GAC identified and responded to this market change early, creating an accurate business data model – a significant investment for an incumbent global business. That data model is now paying dividends in many ways, one of which is through the ability to operate as a ‘data transfer business’ that can pivot with changing market conditions and demands in a similar way that Uber did when it transitioned from taxi to food delivery services during the pandemic.
GAC’s model drives profitability, flexibility and resilience – attractive attributes for talented recruits looking at their next career move as we emerge from the pandemic. Coupled with its efforts to build global reach teamed with local expertise based on its physical presence on the ground, GAC engenders trust and confidence that its digital services can meet the needs of its shipping and transportation customers.
People in business success
Ultimately, the success of a business depends on its people. For organisations to truly benefit from digitalisation, progressive management teams must fully understand the technology they harness, be it integration, data governance, cyber security, blockchain or AI (Artificial Intelligence). There is a shift in those starting their careers, many of whom have grown up with the Internet. New recruits are digitally literate and will prove integral to shaping company culture in the future.
As companies embrace digitalisation to seize new business opportunities, they should also be mindful of the risks it brings. Since the start of the pandemic, cyber threats have been on the rise. While employees are reaping the benefits of working from home, so are cybercriminals who targeting those isolated from colleagues who might otherwise able to provide instant feedback on suspicious emails and other possible threats.
As cybercrime becomes more sophisticated, the human link simultaneously represents both the greatest weakness and the best protection. That’s why training and equipping people for the changing world of work, as well as investing in IT security, is key to staying ahead.