Collaboration in the UK logistics sector

Competition is and always will be a major part of business. However in 2024, there’s a greater need than ever to collaborate. Can you imagine your competition as your colleagues? Kirsty Adams reports.

In 2020 logistics operators were forced to collaborate due to the global pandemic. Even biotech and pharmaceutical companies shared information, a sharp shift from their usual secretive approach.

Digital platforms showed their teeth. One World GTM was the collaborative platform which orchestrated the delivery of over 44 billion items of PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We kept it simple,” explains Hannah Morris, the company’s Managing Director at the CILT Women in Logistics (WIL) event last week. “Everyone was driven by a mission.”

The platform facilitates real-time communication, collaboration and information. During the pandemic, they took a ‘frontline’ approach, and it seems to be continuing its ‘driven by a higher purpose’ narrative. 

Back in 2020, its mission may have been to deliver PPE, but in 2024 it’s to enable supply chains to make more sustainable decisions for people, planet and profit by connecting across organisations, says Morris.

Alison Moriarty, Director of Client Compliance at Beverley Bell Consulting agrees. ” We need to start thinking about partnerships and networks… start looking at each other as colleagues not competition.”

“Change must be reciprocal,” adds Moriarty. Being reciprocal and truly transparent in collaborative partnerships are important, but it’s something CFOs/leaders may struggle with.

The sentiment is this: supply chain partners are colleagues with shared aims. Wouldn’t it be better if we just got along?

Internal changes

Internal collaboration is just as critical as external partnerships, especially as AI terrifies the majority of the ‘Gens.’ Nicola Ashworth, Multichannel Operations Manager at Harvey Nichols, was eager to stress the importance of leadership buy-in for successful change management, especially when implementing/collaborating on AI tools across the business.

It was clear from the WIL panel, which Morris, Moriarty and Ashworth spoke on, that Collaboration Skills are AI skills. They stressed that it needed to be easy for non-technologists, and Moriarty was particularly keen to remind the audience that we mustn’t leave the Gen X’s behind.

Morris encouraged the audience to “Get people comfortable,” with AI, and highlighted the fact that AI skills will involve having natural conversations with it.

“There needs to be investment in the quality of data,” she adds, and explains that organisations need to focus on data collection to enable effective decision making as companies collaborate more.

Using the same AI systems is also critical, to ensure one source of AI truth.

Supporting SMEs to collaborate

Moriarty is keen to stress the need for bigger businesses to invest and support SMEs, sharing knowledge and resources so that everyone can move forward. It was the second session of the day – which featured a speaker from Palletways and partner Ketra Logistics – which offered a good example of this. Palletways operates a network of local members – who collect and deliver pallets – who benefit, predominantly, from its technology.

UK logistics collaboration is happening (whether it’s through acquisition or partnerships) and it’ll be interesting to see how AI will tell us to deliver it…

Author: Kirsty Adams

Source: Ti Insight

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