2023 Recap: A year of challenge and opportunity for logistics
From shocks to global supply chains, uncertainty on the high seas, deliveries from the air, AI and much more, the logistics space saw huge changes throughout 2023 that both tested the resilience of transportation networks, as well as providing opportunities, particularly in the sustainability sector.
We’ve prepared a very truncated list of what we see as the major events throughout the logistics and Information Management spaces we operate in below.
Logistics & Transport: Supply chain shocks and innovation
In 2021, the fragility of supply chains was exposed by the running aground of the container vessel, Ever Given. Despite the eventual salvage, this ended up costing the world approximately US $10 billion every week the huge vessel blocked the Suez Canal.
A different threat emerged in the Red Sea in late 2023: Houthi attacks disrupting vital trade routes led to another re-routing of shipping traffic. This underscored the critical need for diversified shipping strategies. Companies sought new lanes and partners, demonstrating the importance of flexible logistics networks.
The simmering US-China trade dispute, primarily concerning semiconductors prompted businesses to adapt. Exploring alternative routes and seeking new partners has now become a default setting for logistics firms, highlighting the resilience of global supply chains in the face of geopolitical friction.
Sustainability continues to be front-of-mind for many, with more environmentally-friendly solutions continuing to grow in importance across the logistics space: Electric truck fleets continue to expand, including at Crown, and drone-deliveries are starting to emerge as a genuine option in many “last-mile delivery” scenarios.
Information and Records Management: Compliance and AI
Artificial intelligence emerged as a powerful tool, offering enhanced accuracy through AI-powered document analysis, particularly when working in tandem with advanced scanning technology. As the neural networks and language models that power these solutions continue to expand by orders of magnitude, assist in reducing the manual workload. Allowing workers to focus on other areas. These solutions don’t necessarily come without risks however, as we discussed in our primer on Generative AI and Information Management.
Meanwhile, Meta's record GDPR fine served as a stark reminder of just how rigorous data privacy enforcement is becoming. Compliance became a non-negotiable anchor for information management, prompting businesses to prioritize robust data governance frameworks. Perhaps more importantly, we saw both India and China tighten up data-protection policy, with China creating a new national body to oversee data policy, and India approving their first GDPR-like legislation on the matter: The Digital Personal Data Protection Act (DPDP).
Within this strict environment, information governance has become even more paramount. Organizations, heeding the warning signs, implemented robust data security measures, ethical data utilization practices, and secure storage solutions. By prioritizing data integrity, companies weathered the regulatory storms and charted a course towards calmer waters. We talked a little earlier in the year about the must-haves for a robust Information Governance Policy here.
Office logistics: What is an office meant to do?
Although remote and hybrid work dominated 2023, executive surveys, like a recent PwC report, indicate that around 70% of companies now plan for "mostly in-office" models in 2024. This reflects concerns about collaboration and productivity in remote settings from management.
However, employee preferences for flexibility remain strong, as evidenced by studies like a Microsoft survey showing 73% favoring hybrid options.
We expect to see hybrid working remain a mainstay throughout 2024, and for companies to continue to invest in workplaces as collaboration spaces as opposed to a place to simply attend, work, and go home at the end of the day.
2023 could be seen as a year of rough waters, equally, the growth in sustainable technologies and the resilience in the face of geopolitical issues signals a much more hopeful note for the industry.
Lessons were learned everywhere, and new opportunities emerged. The governance rigor around information governance can only be a good thing for consumers who are far too used to data breaches. The increasing emphasis on office space as a place to attract employees is also an important development within an area that hasn’t undergone a radical shift in many years. Finally, generative AI offers hope for huge productivity gains and freeing employees from the shackles of tedious, manual entry work.