“Investment necessity in established industries”
What are currently the top trends in the transport and logistics market from your viewpoint?
The top trend in the transport and logistics market remains digitalization, and that will remain so in the foreseeable future. Digitalization drives business models and creates either problems or investment necessity in established industries. Companies are feeling the massive effects of this.
At the same time, digitalization provides opportunities for additional revenue thanks to new digital services as well as an efficiency potential in many different areas: from bid invitations to the customs clearance. Among other things, the driving forces here include operating staff bottlenecks, for example, the developments in autonomous driving or the warehouse automation. On the other hand, the lack of staff and capacity in the IT environment poses an obstacle to opportunities in terms of digitalization.
Another top tend that we will also deal with for a while is rapidly growing e-commerce. We also see a great need for affordable solutions in cross-border e-commerce, in which digitalization also acts as an enabler.
However, e-commerce is also one of the causes of environmental and overload problems in cities. This brings urban logistics further into the focus. However, it must be noted here that the concepts are lagging significantly behind reality with respect to this topic.
What expectations do you have for 2019?
In general, the political framework conditions and a high level of economic uncertainty will shape the year 2019. Consequently, an industry forecast for the year 2019 is extremely difficult. Despite that, we set ourselves this task in the council "Summit of logistics experts", which I initiated together with Prof. Christian Kille from the University of Würzburg. We forecast growth of 1.7% for the business area logistics in the current year. However, if there is further escalation in the trade conflicts or a hard Brexit, even this moderate growth would be at risk.
Our own expectations as a software provider are more positive than for the entire economic sector. Companies are continuing to work intensively on the digitalization and automation of their processes, so that we are seeing an increasing demand for our solutions and services as was the case in previous years.
Where do you currently see the greatest opportunities/risks for global trade?
The biggest risks are certainly in the political framework conditions, which are creating a high level of uncertainty. Challenges such as the smoldering trade conflicts, increasing protectionism and nationalism as well as Brexit can affect world trade significantly. Risks also stem from the Chinese economy. The signs are increasing that the growth engine is no longer running at such high speed. Of course, there are also opportunities with respect to these topics. If China's economy grows stronger again or trade disputes are settled, this should provide additional impetus.
However, we can also get something positive from the situation, namely that we all learn to deal with increasing uncertainty. Regular planning and more agile procedural models make companies more flexible. They can adapt to external shocks more quickly and adapt their business more directly. As a result, the recovery cycles are shorter in the end.