With its study on "Trends and Strategies in Logistics and Supply Chain-Management" BVL provides a comprehensive analysis of the current situation and the future scenarios in the logistics sector. The key insight is that the digital transformation calls for a systematic and actively organised process of change within companies.
In the era of digitisation, cost pressure, individualisation and complexity are still the main external factors that pose a challenge to today's companies and force them to draw up strategic responses. The most important endogenous trends that the companies themselves need to move forward with are the digitisation of business processes and the greater transparency of supply chains. The key driver for all players, however – and this development is relatively new – is the end customer, whose preferences are making themselves noticeable not just in the trading sector but also in industry and services, and in a way that plays a key role in the competitive arena. In turn, the answer to many of the expectations of the end customer is digitisation.
Just under three in four study respondents describe the opportunities arising for their company as a result of the digital transformation as very good or good. At the same time, more than one in two companies want to hold back their own projects until proven solutions are available. One in three respondents point to the high or very high risks associated with digitisation. The reasons for this could be the required investments in tangible assets, a lack of personnel or the major need for action in the area of qualification in order to prepare employees for new processes, ways of thinking and business models. According to the study, the focus is both on promoting IT skills and on a culture of experimentation and learning.
According to Prof. Wolfgang Kersten from Hamburg University of Technology, who headed the study project, "the latest time that companies should engage the challenge of digitisation is now". He said that, in this endeavour, the key is to take account of innovative technology concepts, changes in the value added chain and changing competence needs and then to develop new adapted business models. The study addresses all four fields of action and interlinks them with the 15 trends that influence the strategy and practice of logistics.
For the company as a whole, this means that the digital transformation will become part and parcel of the corporate strategy. The precondition for this is that transparency is assured along the entire vale added chain, and this is an issue that many companies still need to address. The desired data are often not available, interfaces are not defined, or the quality of data is inadequate. Almost 80 percent of study participants say a transparent supply chain is relevant or very relevant to the success of companies. In this vein, transport or incoming goods data are already widely and systematically shared today – but this is not the case with inventory data, demand forecasts or data on material flow disruptions. In other words, data protection considerations are not the only obstacle to the sharing of data.
Last but not least, innovative business models underpin competitiveness in the digital world. According to the study, the end customer, who for his part uses the diverse range of digital information and transaction options, should be the touchstone for future innovations. "The 2017 theme of the year of Bundesvereinigung Logistik is 'Think Different – Act Digital'. In view of the findings of the study, this is a fitting call to action", says Prof. Raimund Klinkner, Chairman of the BVL Board. Klinkner's conclusion? "Digitisation is anything but the continuation of the status quo on a higher technological level – it's a game changer."
Data was collected in a four-stage process. The first stage was broadly based research of the literature to generate the input for the structure of the questionnaire. This was followed by 38 in-depth interviews with experts from industry, trade and logistics. The next stage was evaluation of 363 fully completed and wide-ranging online questionnaires. A total of 1,351 experts took part in this online survey in 2016, but just under 1,000 of them did not provide all the necessary details. The process was rounded off by the discussion and interpretation of the available results in six focus groups with company representatives and the definition of possible courses of action. Of the participants in the online survey, 44 percent came from industry, 42 percent from logistics services and 14 percent from the trading sector. The make-up of the panel therefore reflected the holistic understanding of logistics that characterises BVL.
Changed consumer behaviour
Digitisation of business processes
Transparency of the value added chain
The current publication is the 13th study in the series entitled "Trends and Strategies" commissioned by BVL and published at irregular intervals since 1991. While the last two studies addressed "Mastering Complexity" (2013) and "Global Networks" (2008), the focal point of the 2016 study was the opportunities presented by the digital transformation. The study was authored by a team of researchers led by Prof. Wolfgang Kersten (Hamburg University of Technology) and Prof. Mischa Seiter (International Performance Research Institute, IPRI)) with additional support from Lufthansa Industry Solutions and business consultants Horváth & Partners. The initial findings were outlined by the researchers at the 33rd International Supply Chain Conference in Berlin in October 2016. The study can be downloaded from the Internet in PDF format.
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