Prateek Joshi, Head, IT, IndiaLinx

and storage with the aim of streamlining operations and deriving business benefits. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), internet of things (IoT) and big data analytics have also started marking their presence in the logistics sector, with a number of applications emerging around these technologies. Going forward, blockchain is expected to impact the sector in a big way by driving transparency and efficiency in supply chain management and enhancing the customer experience. Se­ni­or executives of enterprises operating in this space talk about the emerging IT trends in logistics, the status of technology adoption and the future outlook…

What role is ICT playing in the logistics and transportation sector?

In recent years, global manufacturing companies have increased their focus on the product supply chain. For them, the delivery system has become an integral part of the products, to the extent that transportation and logistics are now an important con­­­s­tituent for achieving a competitive ad­van­­tage in today’s business environment. Here, transportation plays a major role as it enables timely delivery of products, coordination and acceleration of information flow along multiple levels of the supply chain, and greater efficiency and flexibility in the logistics system in response to highly dyna­mic market conditions. For these reasons, ICT has become a critical component to manage an integrated supply chain.

What are some of the key ICT solutions dep­loy­ed by your organisation? How is it benefiting your operations?

We have developed data interchange systems with various stakeholders like Indian ports, Indian Railways and terminal operators to enhance timely and accurate in­formation flow. Similar systems have been developed for large customers for managing end-to-end information flow. These systems help in efficient planning of our assets and their deployment, thus enabling greater operational efficiency.

What is the scope of new technologies like IoT, big data analytics and AI in the sector? How are you leveraging these technologies?

Data volumes continue to grow by leaps and bounds in the logistics industry, making the old ways of doing business outdated. Due to this, AI is finding numerous applications in logistics industry networks within the supply chain. As supply chains generate high volumes of data on a daily basis, AI comes in handy to harness all data, analyse it, identify patterns and provide insight into every section of the supply chain. Further, ML can help significantly in supply chain planning by forecasting inventory, supply and demand, thus improving the optimisation and agility of decision-making.

What are the key challenges faced in the adoption of ICT solutions? How can these be addressed?

ICT facilitates the management of interconnected information flow related to the movement of shipments among all stakeholders in the supply chain. Transpor­ta­tion companies have been active in developing efficient information systems using the latest technologies in the field of logistics. Nevertheless, the use of ICT is unevenly distributed among major stakeholders with single-mode operators such as the railways, airlines and road transporters, using their in-house information systems to support operations. The irregular distribution of ICT among various stakeholders can be primarily attributed to:

  • Resistance to change among transporters
  • Smaller size of business and thus, insufficient resources to invest in ICT systems
  • Lack of user-friendly ICT systems
  • Reluctance of large transport businesses to prevent information sharing with sma­ller players in the supply chain due to the use of proprietary systems, thus preventing real supply chain integration.

What are the upcoming technology trends that will shape the logistics industry over the next few years?

As logistics becomes the backbone of every industry including retail, e-commerce, FMCG, hospitality and healthcare, businesses are aligning their strategies with on­going and upcoming logistics trends, such as robotics, AI and ML algorithms. By anticipating demand and studying data patterns, companies can predict the demand, and plan and align operations well in advance. In the ever-changing business scenario, staying ahead in delivering services is the key and data-driven logistics will help enhance the future of logistics.

With recent technological advancements, companies are aiming at improving their delivery and enhancing the customer experience. New technologies like block­chain have already made their presence felt in the logistics industry. As supply chain can expand to multiple geographies across continents, a secure flow of information recorded in blocks in a transparent manner through blockchain can increase the efficiency and transparency of the supply chain by enhancing the customer experience and adding real-time visibility by connecting all business processes.

Overall, the trend in logistics is moving towards simplifying cumbersome pro­cesses, bringing in more transparency in transactions aided by real-time information flow to enhance the effectiveness of the supply chain, and improving customer satisfaction.

“The trend in logistics is moving towards simplifying processes, bringing in more transparency in transactions and improving customer satisfaction.”Prateek Joshi