Advancing technology and increased e-commerce means logistics supply chains need to be able to keep up with the times – and the demand. We ask how leveraging everyday technology can assist, both within an organisation and between logistics partners
According to Chris Schatebeck, lecturer at the University of Johannesburg, the conventional use of the internet has progressively shifted from information dissemination to commerce, and the ability to create, modify, share and discuss content.
Today, he says, the internet, along with social media, offers inexpensive and sophisticated instruments to companies for advertising, selling products or services, promoting ideas and values and communicating with customers – in an easy, effective and direct manner.
Schatebeck recently presented his paper on Social Media within Global Logistics Providers at the 2016 Southern African Transport Conference, in which he investigated the use of social media in two global logistics providers: DHL Express and TNT International Express. Specifically, the target population for the study focused on South African “Generation X” employees, at various levels of seniority, within the logistics industry.
“Social media has rapidly infiltrated organisations across the world and has had an influence on corporate strategy,” Schatebeck notes. “It can reveal important consumer sentiment, as well as valuable market information,” he adds.
So, what did the study conclude? Respondents indicated that their top management can implement social media as a strategic differentiator and that it should be better integrated into daily operations.
Schatebeck adds that there seems to be a lack of awareness around social media within organisations, particularly with regard to strategic integration – a finding that is especially troubling as the benefits of social media seem apparent to respondents.
“Executives in the logistics industry can better integrate social media into their strategy by providing employees with knowledge around social media and extracting the benefits that social media holds. Also, awareness around social media and its benefits needs to be created by organisational managers.
“Managers in the logistics industry should view social media as an opportunity to gather information and draw conclusions and insights from social media interactions,” he concludes.
If social media can help an organisation better interact with the general public in the pursuit of more efficient business practice, surely sharing data between organisations can achieve the same objective?
For the last ten years, Nachi Mendelow, general manager of business development, Africa, for WiseTech Global, has helped companies on the continent to collaborate.
Mendelow says that true collaboration unlocks value for everyone – suppliers, customers and the business. She adds that logistics operations in South Africa are in a great position to take advantage of the massive growth opportunities represented by the region’s gross domestic product outlook.
“There’s a chance for everyone to benefit by sharing skills, goods and knowledge. Today’s technology makes this collaboration faster, more efficient and immune to the stresses of international logistics by sharing it all within a single-database system,” she says.
South African companies are well poised for this, as they have embraced the latest technologies and practices, while being aware of the challenges, institutional gaps and relevant cultures of the region.
Mendelow adds: “Armed with regional knowledge and cutting-edge software, logistics operators and their clients can more easily overcome the challenges as they take part in Africa’s economic renaissance.”
“By automating and integrating we can work to create a high-velocity, low-touch supply chain where every member collaborates more effectively and efficiently – freeing up staff across all borders to be more accurate, more productive and, ultimately, more successful,” she concludes.