Sometimes, it’s hard to keep the faith when it comes to the great promise technology has offered the logistics industry and the customers it serves. Yes, the early goals of total visibility, proactive exception management and freight markets that follow the laws of perfect competition remain as elusive as those flying cars we were all supposed to have around now. But those who work on the front lines of logistics continue to regard technology as a credible source of supply chain improvement, and strive towards what we call digital logistics nonetheless.
Why? Because, although logistics remains a very traditional business of moving, storing and delivering things, it’s unquestionably one of the Number One areas of business with the most to gain from digital transformation.
Those still forced to handle blizzards of paperwork from China may roll their eyes at the endless parade of headlines about blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) but even incremental digitization of logistics operations delivers plenty of benefits. It’s truly worth staying engaged. Like Maximus, the hero of the movie Gladiator, we ride every day into battle against the barbarian hordes of port delays, lost containers, snarled roads and plain old mess-ups. And what we do in life may not echo in eternity, but it can end up reflected in a very useful digital mirror.
Same problems, different day
“We remain with the age-old, intractable problems of knowing: Where is my stuff, when do I get it and what state is it in?,” says Markus Rosemann, Vice President, Digital Logistics and Order Fulfillment at SAP SE. That involves bringing the flow of information into line with the physical processes, matching data flow with material flow. But the business of doing so is becoming far more complex and challenging, because two important changes are visible.
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