ONE sees two main ways technology can be applied. Firstly to improve the customer experience through improvements in supply chain visibility and better inventory control, and secondly to improve the company’s own processes and efficiency.
Nixon said ONE sees five key areas where a digital transformation will be most pronounced: analytics and artificial intelligence, robotics and automation, the Internet of Things (IOT), drone technology and blockchain. He further divided these areas into short, mid-term and long-term development goals.
In the short-term, ONE has been focussing on electronic customer service platforms to improve service through applications such as electronic data interchanges or EDIs so information can be easily shared.
Further out however, and perhaps holding more potential for gains, the use of data analytics to make better decisions. “We don’t necessarily use that data today but we bring it together so that key decision makers can make decisions more quickly and clearly,” he elaborated. Some examples include a system that has been developed to optimise equipment within the group and another to analyse vessel operations and fuel savings.
Looking out to 18 months to 24 months in the future, Nixon highlighted the key areas of machine learning and blockchain as holding potential. The predictive analytics function of machine learning enables trends to be gleaned from collected data and can help with forecasting. “It’s a huge area and it’s got tremendous potential. The challenge is we have good accurate data which is up-to-date,” he said.
Nixon also warned of the danger of getting “analysis paralysis” with too much analysis hampering action. While the ability to forecast trends is very helpful, sometimes exceptional events happen that need human intervention, Nixon concluded.