Digital platforms for a competitive, sustainable and resilient logistics sector

Digital platforms for a competitive, sustainable and resilient logistics sector

14 mrt 2024 | Nieuws

Digitalisation is reshaping the logistics sector, making it crucial for companies to embrace digital transformation to stay competitive, sustainable, and resilient. The PLATO project explores how digital platforms can accelerate this digital transformation, assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of platformisation for the logistics sector.

The PLATO study shows that especially for large shippers digital platforms are of value. SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) face challenges in recognizing and starting their digital journey because of a gap in digital maturity and integration capabilities among smaller shippers and carriers. This gap, compounded by high integration costs and a hesitancy to expand service offerings due to trust issues, limits the potential benefits of digital platforms, especially for SMEs. This study also shows that there is a critical need for a more unified approach to data standards and data sovereignty in the logistics sector.

The study offers a clear overview of the different types of digital platforms which are linked to concrete logistics problems. In addition, the researchers developed a decision support tool that can be used to guide SMEs in discussions about digital platforms in logistics. Scenario analyses provide insights for ecosystem orchestrators to strategically support digital development. Download the report here.

Approach and partners
The PLATO project is undertaken by a diverse group of consortium members: TNO, Tilburg University, RSM Erasmus University, Royal FloraHolland, Port of Rotterdam, TKI Dinalog, SmartPort, FourKites, TLN, Evofenedex, BigMile and Shippeo. 17 semi-structured interviews and two workshops have been conducted to map the supply and demand of value-adding information services (VAIS). For the development of the decision support tool and the ecosystem development scenarios two additional literature studies have been conducted. Royal FloraHolland, via its Floriday platform, and the Port of Rotterdam, with its community platforms, are key case studies in this project, illustrating the impact of digital platforms in the logistics sector.

Decision support tool
To help SME carriers and shippers assess whether digital platforms can adequately meet their needs and identify areas where further support or investment is needed, the PLATO decision support tool has been developed. The tool can be used to guide SMEs in discussions about digital platforms in logistics. You can find the SmartPort visual of the PLATO decision support tool here. It is strongly recommended to have the discussion facilitated by an expert, particularly to approach complex problems in a structured manner.

Scenario thinking
Scenario thinking is highlighted as crucial for ecosystem orchestrators, guiding them in strategic planning for digital platforms. The study outlines four potential scenarios across two dimensions: Geopolitical Uncertainty, which reflects geopolitical and operational trends, and Ecosystem Uncertainty, focusing on ecosystem and sustainability trends driven by the digitalization rate and government policy. The four potential scenarios enable orchestrators to tailor strategies for future digital ecosystem developments. Emphasizing universal digital access and advocating for regulatory measures, the approach aims to promote growth and resilience. This strategic foresight aids orchestrators in adapting to change and ensuring a balanced, competitive digital environment.

Next steps/recommendations
The researchers advise future research to conduct quantitative analysis on digitization’s costs and benefits, analyse the impact of orchestrator strategies in different scenarios, and explore the interaction between physical and digital platforms. Ensuring the alignment of these platforms’ roles is essential for smoothing operations within the ecosystem, aiming for greater efficiency and strategic synergy in the logistics sector.

More information
For more information about this project or the decision support tool, please contact Marlies Sikken (Managing Director at SmartPort) or Sylvie Poels (project leader of the PLATO project from TNO).