Investment in digitalisation across global supply chains has accelerated in the past 12 months and many companies are now implementing smart technology in their operations for the first time, according to DP World’s Trade in Transition report.
According to the report, a survey taken at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Q1 of 2020 and updated in Q4, shows that 40% of companies said they had started using cloud computing and 38% that they were using the internet of things (IoT).
Approximately 34% said they will adopt big data and analytics, and 17% had introduced machine learning, with 16% exploring automation and robotics.
The pandemic has caused chaos across the global economy and has led ports and other stakeholders across the supply chain to revaluate their operations, especially technological investment.
Some experts have predicted that the post-pandemic era will see more companies invest in digital technologies as they look to meet demand and clear backlogs.
Despite the crisis caused by the pandemic, 42% of business executives said they had seen an increase in international sales during the first half of 2020. Furthermore, 83% said they had had to reconfigure their supply chains and even diversify the countries they choose to trade with.
On average, companies allocated 32% of revenue from the first half of 2020 to help them switch suppliers or logistics providers and change production or purchasing locations.
The report said the pandemic might “finally provide the impetus” for companies to move their production operations away from China.
In the report, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO, DP World said the pandemic has “redefined trade flows and impacted international investment across the world like never before”.
“These uncertain economic conditions have shown that digital trade, speed of delivery and transparency for cargo owners to see where their products are at any one time are key in making sure nations are able to serve their populations in difficult times as well as the good,” Bin Sulayem said.
“Supply chains have become increasingly complex and global in nature. This interconnectedness means supply chains may be exposed to risks that are not fully apparent from the outset.
“This only heightens the need for greater resilience to be maintained throughout such arrangements.”