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KÖRBER: ONLY 1 IN 10 BUSINESSES CAN STAY AHEAD OF THEIR SUPPLY CHAIN CHALLENGES

challenges

KÖRBER: ONLY 1 IN 10 BUSINESSES CAN STAY AHEAD OF THEIR SUPPLY CHAIN CHALLENGES

Körber, the Hamburg, Germany, global supply chain technology leader from software to materials handling automation, on Sept. 1 announced the results of its “2020 State of Supply Chain Complexity” survey.

Among the top findings: Manufacturing and fulfillment complexities only continue to grow–and 91 percent of supply-chain professionals cannot stay ahead of these challenges.

More products, distribution channels, and customer expectations make supply chains more complex, according to Körber, which polled 1,200 global supply chain professionals to learn how they cope with supply chain complexity, how they feel their solutions stack up against the competition and how they’re managing the transition from manual to automated processes.

Technology integration and customer demand ranked among the top challenges today’s supply chain faces.

The issues respondents said most often contribute to their company’s supply chain complexity include:

-48% ‒ integrating and ensuring software, materials handling equipment (MHE), and technologies work together throughout the entire logistics ecosystem

-46% ‒ integrating functions across the supply chain – from manufacturing to end-customer deliveries

-46% ‒ meeting consumer expectations for speed, cost and adaptability

Nearly three-quarters of survey respondents said senior executives view the supply chain as mission-critical–an important step in gaining support for upgrading warehouses and last-mile technology.

“Now isn’t the time for supply chains to break under pressure–yet, 48 percent of companies have experienced growth in complexity this past year,” said Rene Hermes, chief marketing officer for Körber Supply Chain. “It’s good to hear so many executives see this business area as mission-critical. Now we must transform that understanding into action.”

Access the 2020 State of Supply Chain Complexity Survey here: https://www.koerber-supplychain.com/complexitysurvey.

covid

3 Approaches to Continuing Operations through COVID

COVID has impacted every aspect of our personal and professional lives. Businesses across different industries and verticals are adjusting their strategies and day to day processes in an attempt to make the best of this unprecedented moment. For this reason, different types of technology have become more prominent as they allow businesses and professionals to maintain the pace of business in light of how COVID has transformed the way we work.   

A recent survey from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that half of Americans are currently working from home. Along with these changes in work come new challenges regarding problem-solving, engagement in work tasks, and productivity. But as the trend of working remotely is here to stay – especially for Dev teams, for whom this was already somewhat the norm. In fact, in a recent IBM survey, 80% of respondents want to work remotely occasionally, and over 50% want to work from home primarily.

In particular, businesses within the logistics industry need to be able to address the logistical issues of keeping employees safe and aware of the risks, as well as maintaining internal operations so that business can continue. Here are three tips and suggestions for technology and process shifts that can help logistics businesses continue operations through COVID. 

Large Scale Consent with COVID Waivers

As employees at all levels of the supply chain continue to work, and as plans to reopen the office are being built out, there needs to be a way to keep everyone safe and healthy. This involves letting employees know about risks associated with COVID. Using liability waivers – legal agreements that must be signed before a particular activity is undertaken – can be a good solution for this. But rather than use pen and paper contracts (which require face to face contact) or traditional eSignature (that does not scale, especially when there is a high volume of signers), consider one-click contracts. They allow for rapid and seamless acceptance and still carry the same legal weight as a normal contract. They can also be accepted via text or email.

Use Clickwrap to Present Standard Agreements

Because of COVID, businesses are seeking ways to improve their current processes by cutting down on the time or money spent completing them. When it comes to contracts, many use pen and paper or eSignatures to send agreements and collect acceptances. However, these old processes have no place in this new world. One solution is to use clickwrap agreements to present your standard agreements, or market terms. A clickwrap agreement removes the necessity of signing and replaces it with a box or button that users can check or click to signify acceptance. That way, there is no need for face-to-face contact, and contracts can be executed remotely as necessary. 

Automate Everything 

With the changes in business priorities, logistics teams will no longer have the bandwidth for some repetitive tasks that previously received a lot of attention. Instead of hyper-focusing on them or ignoring them altogether, automate those processes so you have time to focus on others. Workflow and Content Automation (WCA) is a growing category of technology that businesses should leverage. After identifying the repetitive processes, WCA enables you to identify high volume, low-value transactions and automate the document workflow associated with them such as implementing clickwrap agreements. This includes standardized agreements like terms and conditions, privacy policies, and NDAs. 

As these constant changes require businesses to make changes to their current internal processes using technology that helps them adapt better to the ongoing circumstances. Using clickwrap agreements can help significantly reduce the amount of contact between transacting parties. It can also be a massive internal lift as it helps with workflow and content automation, thereby enabling you to reduce repetitive processes. Finally, using COVID liability waivers that scale with your business is a sophisticated way to ensure that your business minimizes physical contact and protects its best interests in this new world.

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Brian Powers is the founder and CEO of PactSafe and a licensed attorney. As the CEO, Brian leads the strategic vision of the company’s high-velocity contract acceptance platform.  Prior to founding PactSafe, Brian’s law practice focused primarily on representing the transactional needs of tech companies. Brian is a frequent speaker, instructor and author on topics ranging from clickthrough contract acceptance to privacy-related consent management.

cross-docking

What Warehouses Should Keep in Mind When First Implementing Cross-Docking

Warehouses that want to improve labor and space utilization without expanding to a new location or breaking ground may consider cross-docking because of its potential efficiencies. Unfortunately, it can also come with many pitfalls for those trying it for the first time.

Cross-docking requires a detailed understanding of your team, space, partners, and technology. For new warehouses, that means implementing cross-docking should come with significant testing and preparation, especially in terms of your inventory management, scheduling, spatial allocation, and the training you give your team and partners.

Test inventory management tools

Cross-docking prepares companies for just-in-time (JIT) shipping and distribution, making immediate use of inventory as it arrives. Companies that want to start utilizing cross-docking will need a robust inventory management system that can understand and differentiate these inbound shipments.

Your tools must be able to understand inventory utilization. If half of the goods on an inbound shipment are for JIT purposes, then the inventory platform must be able to split received goods and correctly update both inventory levels and the number of products you list for sale. If this action would require ongoing intervention from you or additional inventory counts, it could introduce higher labor costs that negate cross-dock benefits.

Ultimately, cross-docking can help with inventory management and often keep companies from needing to expand physical infrastructure for the products they hold. It might also help you expand operations to support backorders. This takes time, however, and requires tools that help you understand and manage inventory levels without adding burden.

Robust scheduling includes flexibility

Cross-docking is intense choreography. You’re going to need smart people and reliable technology to manage the planning of how people and trucks are moving in and around your site. Cross-docking and JIT operations demand having the people available to handle inbound shipments and process them while helping your team know what inventory is ready to use and what needs to be put away.

Dock availability and the time of truck arrivals and departures must be flexible so that your operations can run normally. Every cross-docking team plans on a smooth day where everything runs on schedule. However, that’s rarely a reality. Paperwork, traffic delays, accidents, or even someone needing to use the bathroom can cause a small delay. Something as simple as an employee driving through the parking lot can force a truck to wait.

If you schedule everything down to the minute and don’t give your team and partners flexibility, it’ll cause greater delays. In most cases, as you’re expanding and learning, arriving trucks will end up waiting because it’s hard to predict the time people need, but you also don’t want docks sitting empty for extended periods. So, ensure that you have people ready when trucks are there and test the time you give teams for inbound and outbound.

Dock door assignments should consider space and traffic

One other caveat that many warehouses don’t consider when they first start cross-docking is the physical space that people, trucks, and inventory required. Cross-docking effectively requires that dock door assignments be efficient and allow incoming and departing trucks enough space to maneuver safely and quickly. Adding extra points to a turn will slow the entire process down, for example.

If your warehouse wasn’t built with cross-docking in mind, test this thoroughly. Often, warehouses need significant reconfiguration of internal elements or will install new doors and adjust the building design to facilitate cross-docking. Multiple teams, doors, trucks, and the equipment everyone is using are going to take up extra space and need to be able to move freely and safely. Start by giving everything and everyone more leeway than you think they need.

Some new inventory and dock management platforms support cross-docking and can make suggestions based on timing, assignments, and other aspects of your operations based on historical and current data. When your tools offer this, try out their analysis and recommendations to see if you can maximize your efforts.

The entire supply chain requires competencies

Cross-docking is an advanced management and utilization technique for any warehouse or distribution center. You’re managing dock door assignments, transshipment, vehicle routing, product allocation, barcode scanning and putaway, new warehouse layouts, and the network and systems required to manage it all.

Your team needs competency in each of those areas and activities. Partners should have their own understanding plus the ability to support you. Inbound expertise is required, across the board, for JIT requirements and scheduling to be effective.

You’ll eventually want to build out appropriate penalties for time windows to keep things running smoothly, but that requires your team not to cause delays. In many instances, cross-docking is complicated mathematics disguised as people and trucks.

Take your time to test and implement it. Work with partners proactively to help understand what they need from you and explain what you need from them. Train your team specifically on the new processes and requirements. Simulate, test, and optimize procedures and layout continually.

Cross-docking can save warehouses significantly on a variety of costs and size requirements. You might reduce material handling and make labor more efficient. Customer satisfaction can be improved, too, as you’re relying less on backorders or older products. Achieving all of those wins is a lengthy process, and it’s important to walk into the situation with patience.

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Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.

manufacturing

How Automation is Shaping the Manufacturing Industry

Without a doubt, technology has been instrumental in revolutionizing most, if not all, industries around the world.

However, even in the face of this undeniable truth, some businesses remain hesitant about integrating certain innovations, such as automation, into their operations. Esteemed economist Christine McDaniel explained how this resistance may be due to the overblown anxiety over the false claim that automation will leave millions of blue- and white-collared professionals jobless for good.

Be that as it may, with the ongoing crisis requiring manufacturers to take certain safety measures, the dynamics between automation and this specific industry has to change in order to keep up with the times. Furthermore, a lot of experts believe that automation could be the very technology that will prepare and allow the manufacturing sector to thrive in a post-pandemic world. To give you a clearer picture, here are some of the ways automation is shaping the manufacturing industry these days:

Raise savings and cut costs

Over 478 billion of the 749 billion working hours spent on manufacturing-related activities worldwide were automatable. The aforementioned 478 billion hours, which is equivalent to $2.7 trillion worth of labor costs, provides a great opportunity for manufacturers to increase savings. In addition, a new generation of robots that are not only flexible and versatile but also relatively cheaper can help cut costs in the long run and increase the scalability of manufacturing businesses.

Enhance resiliency and simplify processes

In the face of an ongoing global health crisis, most manufacturing plants have been left with no choice but to operate below full capacity and strategically schedule workers to limit the number of employees in a specific location at any given time. And with how tedious this task can be, it’s easy to see how some manufacturing managers could easily run into challenges when coordinating the workers and the machines. Fortunately, Verizon Connect details how manufacturing managers can rely on automated software that can make the intricate process of job scheduling and machine coordinating easy and hassle-free.

Increase labor productivity

As with every other industry, automation has the ability to make businesses even more efficient. With machines and robots that can get more tasks done within a given time frame compared to traditional manual options, manufacturers can look forward to a significantly reduced production lead time and a greater total rate of production. Moreover, automation can also help accomplish seemingly impossible manual tasks that often require precision and accuracy to a greater extent. Economics Help also mentions how automation can enable factories to produce a greater range of goods that come in different sizes and designs, as well as being suited to different functions.

Improve workplace safety

Even without the pandemic, safety has always been a significant concern for manufacturers. After all, data from The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that workplace injuries and accidents, which are more frequent in this field, can cost businesses nearly $62 billion per year. For many years now, on-the-job injuries have been gradually falling, thanks to machines and robots that have been doing all the heavy lifting, taking over repetitive tasks and eliminating the need for employees to work in extremely hazardous environments. In the coming years, manufacturers can continue counting on automation when it comes to making hazardous workplaces safer.

As the world braces itself for a future that’s been completely changed by the current crisis, the manufacturing industry’s reliance on automation will only run deeper, and it’s easy to see why. After all, automation has the ability to raise savings and cut costs, enhance resiliency and simplify processes, increase labor productivity and improve workplace safety.

dachser peru

Here’s How Dachser Peru Continues Operations Despite the Pandemic

Dachser Peru recently announced the successful transportation of two 180-ton locomotives from the Port of Houston to the customer’s Lima facility, further supporting advancements in the region’s railroad infrastructure efforts. Amid the challenges presented by the heavy-lift cargo project, Dachser continues to demonstrate its methods of meticulous and successful planning to keeping customers satisfied while fostering economic growth across the globe. Global Trade had the opportunity to speak with Eduardo Rey, Managing Director at Dachser Peru, on this success and how Dachser is keeping operations going during a global pandemic through careful planning and the use of technology solutions.


Let’s talk about special measures that were taken to successfully transport the two 180-ton locomotives from Port of Houston to Lima, Peru. How did these measures differ from regular methods of transportation?

To move the two locomotives as we did was a special task, indeed. These special tasks require a very detailed plan if you want a successful story. What we did is we took not only one, but several measures in order to ensure success. First, it was the right selection of our service partners. That’s always a priority we require to perform our job well. We ensure to work with reliable companies that are not necessarily the cheapest one, but the ones who offer secure operations. For us, security, especially in these times, is most important.

Secondly, we executed a very detailed plan for the transport itself. We oversaw the big picture plan from the arrival of the locomotives into the port of Houston until the end delivery in a place in Lima, Peru. We were responsible for the whole service from start to finish. While executing this very detailed plan, we considered all the possible challenges that may occur in the process. We always have a plan B. For heavy cargos like this, logistics is not a paper issue. It requires in-depth involvement in the operations. Communication is key and coordination within the processes needs to be very well planned. That’s exactly what we did.

How about the role of technology in the transport of these locomotives? Do you see it changing future processes?

Well, technology in our times is something that needs to be on top of all our activities. Last generation’s equipment has been used for these transports, especially during the last phase of the loco transportation to the final destination in Callao in Peru. A last generation heavy hauler was used to move these units where they were directly discharged from the vessel into the units and transported through the streets of Callao.

There were a lot of air cables, electricity and phone cables by the streets that required us to take care of all the height concerns of the locomotives in order not to cross or to destroy it. Again, it was a very detailed plan. In the end, it arrived at the final destination and discharged over the railroad tracks using 400 cranes, last generation as well. Technology is always on top of our activities.

How is Dachser currently navigating logistics and limitations presented by the pandemic? Has anything really changed?

Dachser is one of the largest worldwide logistic providers. During the pandemic, we have been one of the most active companies around the world. Indeed, our own airfreight charters has been great support for several countries. In Peru, a clear demonstration has been the heavy cargos transport, of course. Despite the legal restrictions due to the pandemic and all the security and safety protocols we followed, we were able to proceed this way. Dachser is acting with full responsibility, following the security procedures and the country regulations in every country we operate in. We are in the logistics business and logistics never stops, even though most of us are working from home. Yes, there are indeed limitations, but nevertheless we are able to ensure a class A logistics service.

How is the company preparing to further support rail infrastructure projects in the future?

Well, having done this latest move demonstrates our full capabilities to organize logistics for appropriate cargoes. Dachser is ready for future opportunities, of course, not only in the rail industry, but for any other industry that supports the infrastructure development in Peru. In our country, we have an infrastructure deficit in roads, ports, airports, etc. Considering the worldwide Dachser network, we are fully prepared to support these developments. To give you an example, we got a call the other day from the ministry of health in Peru because they were trying to move some special equipment for oxygen production. There are so many hospitals that have a need for more oxygen. We are always alert for those kinds of requirements and opportunities.

Dachser is well known in the local market for the perishables export for all its logistics. For example, we have a very well-known and prepared staff of people giving 24/7 service for the exports of fruits and vegetables. In Peru, those products are the main non-traditional exports from the country. That means that our service portfolio is not only focused on one specific industry like projects or trains, but it is actively bringing the best quality for logistics services. Looking at what is most important for us which is our customers’ full satisfaction.

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Mr. Eduardo Rey was born in 1964 in Lima, Peru. He attended the University Ricardo Palma, where he studied architecture.

It was later, through his working experience, that he discovered his true vocation: the logistics industry.

He quickly understood that, in order to get a better sense of the work he was so passionate about, he needs to further his studies, so in 1987 he obtained a post-graduate degree in Foreign Trade and did other various courses related to air and cargo and in 1999 he completed an MBA.

Mr. Rey started his career within the industry as an Export Manager for a trading company that specialized in hydro-biological products. Ever since, he has been working in the forwarding business, for more than 27 years now and to today, he still feels as passionate about his work and the world of transportation, as he was when he started in this domain.

In 2003, he took on an offer to become the General Manager of a local Peruvian freight forwarder and soon was promoted to the role of Managing Director.

It was in 2016 when Mr. Rey was appointed as Managing Director for DACHSER Peru and he brought his extensive experience and deep knowledge of the industry both locally and globally to the company.

Mr. Rey appreciates his initial architectural studies and feels that they are helping him in his every day work and provide him with the organized mind of an architect, when dealing with the daily operations of the company and his team.

ecommerce

How to Manage a Sustainable eCommerce Strategy After the Pandemic

DK Hardware, online home improvement retail company, presents six reasons why it is essential to professionally manage an eCommerce platform, so that your business or entrepreneurship is consolidated according to the unwritten rules of the digital economy.

Understanding that the digital economy will continue to be one of the main economic engines in the post-COVID-19 stage, it is essential to ensure our business opportunities in the medium term. However, to achieve the previous, the development of skills to capitalize on it, as well as to face the challenges it entails, is key.

In the last quarter of 2020, the growth of eCommerce globally has been more than exponential. According to Statista, retail platforms have undergone a six percent global traffic increase between January and March 2020. Overall, retail websites generated 14.34 billion visits in March 2020, up from 12.81 billion global visits in January 2020. This is of course due to the global coronavirus pandemic which has forced millions of people to stay at home in order to stop the spread of the virus. How to continue with that sustainable success? DK Hardware shares six key thoughts.

1. Maximize investment. Digital commerce will be the area that will receive the most investment in the coming months (and therefore the most competitive), and these resources should be managed in an efficient and optimized way, since the sales process will be impacted from the pre-sale, the transaction, the after-sales, as well as the service and the customer experience.

2. The relationship with the client evolves. Customer consumption habits have changed and during the process e-commerce has won thousands of new consumers, so the evolution of online commerce management should represent an opportunity to resume direct relationships with consumers. Direct to consumer (D2C) solutions, such as CRMs, applications, custom quotes based on customer needs in regards to volume or project, and communication APIs will be unstoppable in the coming months, and you must understand what they are, how they work and what advantages they can bring to your project.

During the contingency, empathy and transparency played a leading role in customer service, and service was prioritized over sales. Learning to keep our commitments and manage the true needs of consumers in our favor will position us positively, and digitization will be a perfect ally to strengthen these new parameters and deliver true added value to our business or entrepreneurship.

3. New technologies in support of a contact-less society: Concepts such as voice assistants, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, mobile communication applications, omnichannel platforms, the Internet of Things, robotics and big data in real time, will be variables that must be included in the eCommerce strategy, and we must learn what are the advantages of each of these technologies to capitalize them according to our market segment, since it is intuited that the newly acquired habits will detonate in new needs and demands.

4. A new dimension of social commerce. Social networks are part of the daily life of consumers, and the growth in the use of these platforms during the pandemic has increased the relevance of the exchange of opinions, preferences, and recommendations, around brands, products, and services. The implementation of data analysis tools in real time, for example, that allow measuring customer sentiment, will be very suitable for the development of communication strategies and efficiency of digital campaigns, as well as an adequate conversion of sales interactions.

5. Logistics efficiency. Although the growth of eCommerce has become a great advantage, it also has challenges that are transforming the established foundations. If online sales have suffered from anything during this contingency, it is the lack of infrastructure and logistics to speed up the arrival of the product in the hands of the customer. Learning to digitize and automate delivery and delivery routes in the most efficient way for the good performance of our business is something that greater investment in digital training allows.

6. Care of personal data. The greater the demand, the greater the security gaps. Understanding the relevance, design and management of robust cybersecurity systems, authentication, and protection of personal data will transform in consumer trust and loyalty.

After the rapid evolution of eCommerce, we are obliged to evolve. Only change is guaranteed, and we must demand a perfect rhythm to do it. Training will always be the most important ally for adaptation and the creation of firm, robust, viable and disruptive projects. We do not see a better time than this to add true professionalism to eCommerce strategies, acquire leadership of transformation and thus achieve a new generation of businesses that face the demanding and competitive future.

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Featured in the Best Online Shops 2020 – Newsweek, DK Hardware is one of the largest online home improvement retailers for a variety of hardware manufacturers all over the United States and Canada.

censorship

INTERNET CENSORSHIP IN CHINA IMPACTS GLOBAL TRADE

Unfree Speech

Online censorship can take many forms. With over four billion global Internet users in 2019, the lines around how we express ourselves online are being drawn and redrawn around the world.

In Europe, democratic governments are considering bans on so-called fake news and fines on social media companies that fail to delete “harmful” content. In the United States, tech companies are under fire for under- or overdoing their monitoring and expunging of material on their platforms that may be “extremist,” “hateful,” or merely repugnant or wrong-headed to some. Although free and open speech is fundamental to any democracy, U.S. culture is growing ever more hostile to dissenting opinions or genuine debate. The “cancel culture” is a harmful form of societal censorship.

When it comes to systemic state-sponsored censorship, North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran impose the harshest restrictions on Internet use by citizens and companies. Censorship is a tool of state control over the populace in those countries.

In China, political dissent or criticism of the Chinese Communist Party is punished, independent bloggers silenced, credentialed journalists from international publications denied access, and scholars made to fall in line with party views. But it isn’t only political speech that is banned or filtered. China maintains a system of surveillance and blocking technologies that comprise the “Great Firewall” between its citizens and many of the world’s largest commercial websites. The Senate recently held a hearing to discuss censorship of foreign companies in China as well as the government’s use of market power to extend the reach of censorship beyond its borders.

Firewalls and Filters

China’s State Internet Information Office appears to spearhead the monitoring and filtering of Internet traffic into and within China, but the endeavor is so extensive that as many as twelve other agencies comprise China’s censorship apparatus. The government exercises control over information technology infrastructure and deploys sophisticated software to scrub, deflect or block content and sites it deems illegal. China’s telecommunications companies, including China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile are enlisted to carry out and enforce state censorship measures, as are Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, China’s main Internet platforms. Controlling much of the allowable content in China, these companies maintain strict filters – censoring themselves and their users – to comply with government requirements.

China ISPs enlisted

Content deemed illegal is required to be removed or sites are blocked altogether. The U.S. Trade Representative’s 2019 Report to Congress on China’s WTO Compliance cites industry calculations that “China currently blocks more than 10,000 sites, affecting billions of dollars in business, including communications, networking, app stores, news, and other sites.” Blocked sites include Dropbox, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google search and Gmail, and foreign news services such as The Guardian and the Wall Street Journal. Services required for day-to-day business operations such as cloud storage are restricted to service portals approved by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, not privately-owned or controlled channels where the government could lose visibility and access to the data transmitted.

As a second line of defense, the Chinese government prohibits or strictly licenses wholly- or partially owned foreign firms seeking to provide value-added telecommunications services such as Internet-based calls, videoconferencing services, online search and data processing, or virtual private network (VPN) services.

Corporate Choices and the Cost of Censorship

In 2010, Google famously defied the Chinese government’s requirements to filter the content returned by its search algorithm. When Google redirected its users to its uncensored Hong Kong site, the Chinese government blocked it. Taking it a step further, the government throttled Google’s services, degrading them to the point where users become inclined to abandon the service, causing Google to lose substantial market share and withdraw from China. Washington DC-based think tank Information Technologies and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) estimates Google lost $32.5 billion in potential search revenue from 2013 to 2019. Eventually, Google began developing Dragonfly, a search engine designed to comply with China’s censorship requirements.

Other U.S. companies have contorted themselves to avoid censorship. U.S.-headquartered Marriott International apologized for listing Taiwan as a separate country after Chinese authorities shut down its website. International airlines fell in line too, changing their websites to refer to Taiwan as part of China under threat they would be banned from operating in China.

The Chinese government is also becoming more brazen about leveraging its market power to ensure foreign corporations and their employees avoid criticizing its policies outside of China. We are all familiar with the NBA’s backpedaling after initially supporting its employees’ right to exercise free speech in the United States in expressing support for Hong Kong. Increasingly, foreign firms will face a choice between protecting their right and the rights of their employees to freedom of expression or protecting their business dealings in China.

Foreign firms face choice rev

Not Just a China Problem

According to an analysis from Google, more than 40 governments now engage in broad-scale restrictions of online information, “a tenfold increase from just a decade ago.” Among the examples cited, YouTube has been blocked in Turkey. Several countries in Eastern Europe interfere with the popular blogging service, LiveJournal. Guatemala suppressed WordPress blogs during its 2009 political crisis. Iran stifles dissent by blocking social media platforms. Vietnam actively filters political content from social media.

Censorship Map revised

Do Global Trade Rules Address Censorship?

Within the trade community, voices are growing louder that China’s Internet controls constitute a barrier to market access and are therefore a violation of China’s global trade obligations.

Foreign companies and industry have argued that China’s censorship measures are not even-handed; they are applied to non-Chinese products or service providers selectively and in ways that are more restrictive than those applied to domestic providers. They point to examples of similar content that draws a permanent ban of a foreign site whereas the domestic site is merely required to remove specific content.

The Chinese government’s guidelines for permissible or illegal content are vague, unpublished and not transparent. The criteria for IP addresses, domains and website addresses that are permanently or routinely blocked are a state secret. Foreign companies operating in China or seeking to export to China have no way to understand the basis or seek redress for limitation on their access to the Chinese market.

Weakening foreign industry’s case, however, is their acknowledgement that the market access commitments many WTO members have undertaken may not apply to all Internet trade. In the WTO agreement on services, a member’s commitments to national treatment and market access apply only to services specifically listed by members in their schedules. When the agreement was negotiated, many of today’s value-added Internet services did not exist.

The WTO agreements covering trade in goods and services permit measures “necessary to protect public morals,” to maintain public order or to protect national security, with the limitation that those measures should not be applied in a manner that would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or “a disguised restriction on international trade.” Legal experts debate whether a WTO suit against China’s censorship is winnable, and China experts are dubious whether China would comply regardless.

Trade Rules Cant Fight Censorship

Cyber Sovereignty or Cyber Superpower?

China’s policy footing is unabashedly oriented to exercise absolute control over access to Internet content and services within its own borders. Centrally, the Chinese Communist Party will thwart communication it perceives “subverts state power or undermines national unity.”

The question is, how far will the government go to exercise influence over international norms for cyber governance? And how much state support will be thrown behind freeing itself from dependence on foreign technologies and services to become a global cyber superpower? Is censorship being used to lock foreign competitors out of China’s market to protect local competitors? How far will China go to censor communication it perceives as a threat outside China?

The apps we use that are created by mainland Chinese companies likely contain code to scan and block prohibited websites or language the Chinese government finds objectionable. But beyond sanitizing content, the government may specifically target sites for censorship outside of China.

The Chinese government recently disabled a social media platform in Hong Kong that was used to organize anti-China protests. Its actions may portend a broader approach to Internet censorship in Hong Kong which, according to the Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association is home to more than 100 data centers operated by local and International companies that transit over 80 percent of web traffic for mainland China.

The Nexus of Censorship and Trade

Government measures to disrupt Internet access or prevent the dissemination of information online are generally considered to infringe upon the basic human right to freedom of expression. Now, industry actors along with open Internet advocates are leading the charge to consider censorship antithetical to the global trading system. At the center of the debate is China, the country with the most extensive censorship program in the world and which holds significant market power in the global economy.

The implications of commercial censorship run the gamut, from stifling key sales channels for exporters to China, to limiting or prohibiting foreign companies from providing Internet services in China, to extraterritorial censorship of overseas Internet sites and services. At a recent hearing on censorship and trade, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) stated, “The actions undertaken by China are clearly insidious and counter to the necessary conditions of a fair global economic system.” That may be so, but global trade rules and institutions as they exist today are inadequate to alter China’s approach or mitigate the global impacts of China’s censorship.

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Andrea Durkin is the Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas and Founder of Sparkplug, LLC. Ms. Durkin previously served as a U.S. Government trade negotiator and has proudly taught international trade policy and negotiations for the last fifteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

business

How To Grow Your Business After COVID-19

COVID-19 has upset economic forecasts and forced many companies worldwide to rethink their business strategy plan for the future. Finding success during this unprecedented time has been a painful process for many companies. Although the pandemic has brought new hurdles to businesses across the globe, it has also created loads of opportunities for retailers. A change in consumer behavior means more people are turning to online marketplaces for their shopping, which has redefined the position of ecommerce and online businesses in the retail sector. But this positive trend isn’t an assurance for future success. You need to develop a plan that intends the growth of your ecommerce business, in a post-pandemic context. Here are a few helpful tips:

1. Revise Your Current Marketing Strategy

Assess your current messaging process to establish whether you’re relaying the right message and positioning your business in the right way to succeed after the pandemic. This step will help you identify and get rid of marketing materials that don’t resonate with the current economic and social situation. Shun sending emails, updating on social media, or engaging in any marketing campaign that may seem insensitive.

Adjust your brand’s messaging to be in line with the unique needs and demands of your customers. Your message should show to both existing and potential customers the value they’ll get from buying your products or services. Offer appropriate, concise, and meaningful communication. Be sure to address the COVID-19 impacts, and the steps that you’re taking to bounce back big time. If you’re thinking about marketing your products to overseas consumers, consider entering a strategic partnership with a professional globalization partner. Optimizing your Global PEO strategy will always benefit your business’s revenues and will help you smoothly navigate your workforce abroad right after the pandemic.

2. Provide Unparalleled Digital Customer Experience

In a rapidly expanding ecommerce landscape where many sellers are providing the same products and services, offering better digital customer experience can set your business apart from your competitors. Some of the things that can help you deliver unrivaled digital customer experience include a smart and user-friendly interface, excellent support, efficient payment options, and the right technology infrastructure.

Poor networks and lack of strong data protection measures can easily damage an otherwise well-built customer experience. Websites and payment portals with poor loading speeds will drive customers away. Consumers will also avoid companies that are vulnerable to hacking and security breaches. So laying a solid foundational infrastructure for your ecommerce business can help it grow in leaps and bounds in the future.

3. Optimize Your Website and Incorporate Live Chat

Ensure your website is as responsive as possible and accessible on a wide array of devices. Enhance your website’s speed and ensure it’s extremely easy to use no matter the device the user is using to view it. Around 48 percent of people use mobile devices to search for product information and to shop. On top of that, 47 percent of digital shoppers prefer a site with a load speed of below two seconds. Avoid driving leads to competitors by creating a highly responsive and user-friendly site.

When a consumer is gathering product information while shopping, they expect answers to their questions right away. If they can’t get a quick response, they’re likely to move on to another online store. Live chat is almost equivalent to in-store customer service due to its ability to bring the advantages of human interactions. It adds a human touch to digital shopping. Most importantly, it can be done remotely.

4. Build Reliable and Diversified Supply Chains

The pandemic has demonstrated that the global economy relies extremely on supply chains, which are susceptible to disruption. With the increasing attention to digital customer experiences, ecommerce and online businesses must invest time and effort into consistently delivering products to consumers if they want to survive after COVID-19. Supply chain interruption can result in shipping and manufacturing setbacks if a company lacks a flexible plan to address ongoing demand.

In addition to investing in excellent network uptime, ecommerce businesses should look for multiple options for obtaining materials and labor. The best way to do this is nurturing relationships with a variety of suppliers, all of whom should have the capacity to comply with the intricate compliance requirements of different sectors. A globalization partner can also connect you with the best local vendors who’ll help you reliably deliver your products to your global customers.

5. Prepare for Capacity Growth

Invest in adequate technology infrastructures, such as servers and bandwidth, to help you deal with more ecommerce traffic. Do a thorough review of your past performances, revised marketing strategy, and latest ecommerce trends to gauge the amount of traffic you’re likely to attract. This information will be important in a proper estimation of demand and building the right capacity to exploit it.

Adopting cloud computing can help your business provide the best digital customer experience and react to ecommerce trends rapidly. It’s easy to upscale or downscale cloud computing capacity to handle growing demand quickly and effectively. For better control and flexibility, you can invest in a hybrid cloud infrastructure.

6. Be Transparent with Pricing and Consider Lowering Delivery Charges

Post-COVID-19, customer loyalty will be extremely crucial for your company. Consumers share their experiences, both positive and negative, on social media, and review sites. Negative reviews can have a major negative impact on your profits margin. Avoid concealing extra fees or details that may come as an undesirable surprise during the final stages of finalizing a purchase.  Be transparent from the initial stages to keep customers pleased and loyal.

A large number of regular online shoppers end up making more purchases when shipping is free or considerably low. Lowering or doing away with delivery charges could result in a significant uptick in sales. If your current profit margins can’t accommodate this, consider value addition. You can give a discounted delivery on purchases exceeding a specific value.

Conclusion

The high ecommerce demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to become permanent even after brick-mortar stores resume operation, especially if it follows the normal trends of online shopping habits. Companies that adapt quickly will stand a better chance at growing their businesses and expanding their profit margins by exploiting this great opportunity. The above 6 tips will help them grow their businesses even in post-pandemic circumstances.

logistics

Six Key Technologies for High-Performing Logistics

The fields of logistics, manufacturing, transportation, and supply chains are experiencing a rapid and unprecedented transformation today. The future development of these industries lies in innovation and technology improvement. Recently, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, drone delivery, and other modernizations that have become almost a reality, previously, have been the subject of science fiction. So, let us consider the most prominent implementations to high-performing logistics.

3D printing

“The concept of 3D printing itself has existed since the 1980s. However, only now this technology has become available on a relatively large-scale market. This revolutionary advancement allows almost any company to create devices or their parts from metals, plastics, mixed materials, and even from human fabrics without special expenses” – according to Noah Miller, CEO of PhotoRetouchingServices.NET who plan to provide a new 3D printing service in 2021.

How can this affect logistics and supply chain management?

1. 3D printing significantly expands the production process

2. Increases independence from specialized industries and enterprises

3. Reduces delivery times, eliminating the need to store a large number of finished products in warehouses

The use of 3D printing will lead to drastic changes in the logistics field. Companies will supply raw materials instead of many finished products. Therefore, they will be able to provide 3D printing services at delivery points, which will be an additional source of income.

Smart systems and the Internet of Things

By the end of 2020, the number of connected devices is expected to surpass 50 billion. A world of coupled things is a treasure trove of opportunities for all sectors of the economy, including the trucking industry. Smart devices, connected in one information space, can store important data. For example, technical requirements, customer names, and shipping addresses.

Smart pallets and long-distance containers will make it much easier to track or locate goods in transit. Such systems will not only make it easier for warehouse employees to find, distribute, and dispatch orders, but also help manufacturers to perform maintenance and processing of goods at the end of the expiry date with higher efficiency. Over time, most logistics processes can become semi-automatic.

Tracking shipments in transit with network-connected devices will remove shipping worries. Moreover, in this way, it will be possible to check if the vehicles are in need of repair and receive information about the mishandling of some goods.

At the moment, tracking goods and services on the road is one of the major problems of logistic services. The use of the Internet of Things, along with the use of cloud GPS-systems, will allow you to track individual consignments easily. 50% of logistics service providers are already using cloud services, while 20% are planning to do so.

As data moves to the cloud, logistics services become available through pay-on-demand. This means that small businesses no longer have to spend money on complex IT solutions. They only pay for what they need.

In its turn, the Internet of Things is based on the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, which communicate with each other. Chips attached to the individual elements of the consignment transmit data such as:

-product identification

-location

-temperature

-pressure and humidity

Once there is a notification of any negative action, it will be a trigger to promptly prevent any possible damage or theft. The chip can signal the onset of adverse weather conditions, such as high temperature or humidity. It can also transmit road condition data and info related to  specific parameters, such as average speed and traffic patterns, or return information.

Supply and transportation chain management is a relevant issue for logistics managers and directors. Therefore, logistics companies will benefit greatly from using this technology. Also, they will be able to get an increased number of satisfied customers.

Drone delivery

A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle. It can be either controlled remotely or fly autonomously, using programmed flight routes arranged in its system. Drones are small, light, and quite cheap to operate. They manage to fly where other means of transport fail to perform.

In the near future, operators will use drones to promptly deliver small packages in both cities and remote areas. Due to their high speed and accuracy, it is possible to reduce the supply chain and significantly decrease transportation expenses. As a result, courier companies may incur financial losses. There are certain obstacles that hinder the widespread use of this technology: the issue of government regulation, air traffic safety, the permitted size and weight of the drone.

e-AWB

The Electronic Air Waybill, e-AWB, is the first step towards digitalizing the industry. It is a standardized electronic version of the existing paper air waybill that accompanies cargo from shipper to delivery. E-AWB improves the efficiency of tracking and processing cargo data, as well as the transparency and safety of the route.

In addition, it reduces expenses and delays. The International Air Transport Association, IATA, announced the transition to e-AWB in early 2019. Major airlines such as Lufthansa and Emirates, have already implemented the electronic air waybill. Delta Airlines and United Airlines are likely to follow suit soon. Thus, by the end of 2020, 80% of air waybills will be electronic.

Blockchain

Since its advent in 2008, blockchain has never fallen off the radar in any industry. Unfortunately, the complex concept is difficult for many logisticians to understand. Despite its great potential, it has hardly evolved.

In addition, many logisticians are tired of the very frequent use of this term. As you know, blockchain is an open ledger of transactions distributed among computers on the network. Since everyone in the common blockchain has access to the same ledger of transactions, there is complete transparency that makes it impossible for users to hack the system. Thus, it eliminates the need for third parties.

In the logistics industry, blockchain can make it easier to exchange sensitive data for different carriers or shippers. Also, companies are able to create trade finance and supply chain finance solutions.

Digital twins

Digital twins, electronic copies of a physical object or process, are one of the most exciting trends in logistics technology to follow in 2020. Many logisticians know that products will never be the same as their computer models. However, the technology of digital twins changes it. Now, the physical and digital worlds can be combined into one, which allows us to interact with an e-model of an object or its part in the same way as with their physical counterparts.

The potential for using digital twins in logistics is enormous. In the transportation sector, this novelty can be used to collect products and packaging data. In this way, it uses the information to identify potential blind spots and recurring trends to improve future operations.

Web technologies, programs and transport management systems do not stop evolving. Currently, the logistics industry is experiencing yet another revolution. The latest technologies are mostly related to speed, accuracy, security, and continuous delivery.

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Marie Barnes is Marketing Communication Manager at Adsy guest post service and a writer for gearyoda. She is an enthusiastic blogger interested in writing about technology, social media, work, travel, lifestyle, and current affairs.

knowledge management

Researchers Propose a Model to Better Manage Knowledge and Innovation in Multinational Corporations

With a clear understanding of knowledge management, executives can make more effective managerial decisions. Knowledge management has been evaluated from various perspectives. This variation may differ because knowledge management is understood in many different ways and therefore different scholars focus on different aspects of it and offer several options of managerial application. These perspectives are discussed below.

Taking a Technological Perspective

Executives know that they can take a technological perspective. In this case, the executive understands how knowledge management as facilitating organizational processes and activities uses information technology to organize existing information. Executives have found that knowledge management embraces information technology to convert individual knowledge into valuable resources for their organization. Executives focus on individuals as the major source of knowledge and show how followers tie together so that they can effectively share the storage, transfer, and application of knowledge within organizations. Executives, therefore, see these connections, and the related shared knowledge and memory, as central to the effectiveness of knowledge management.

Taking an Economic Perspective

Executives agree with Doyle McCarthy, who sees society as a product of knowledge. Defining culture as various forms of knowledge and symbols that make up an organization’s culture. However, knowledge is a by-product of culture and knowledge’s role in guiding and facilitating people’s action is key to executive decision-making. Four scholars by the names of Bernard Marr, Oliver Gupta, Stephen Pike, and Goran Roos define knowledge management as “a set of activities and processes aimed at creating value through generating and applying intellectual capital.”

Executives direct practices that create value from intangible organizational resources. For executives, it is clear that the objective of managing knowledge is to add value to organizations. The focus here is that executives consider the fact a firm’s knowledge is positively associated with its outcomes.

Taking a Process Perspective

The process perspective focuses on knowledge flows that executives use through embracing the processes of knowledge management for strategic management decision-making. Managing knowledge is not new, scholars have considered the various processes involved. Executives can look at three-step processes of knowledge accumulation, integration, and reconfiguration. Jang-Hwan Lee and Young-Gul Kim’s model for managing knowledge takes a strategic process-oriented approach and is relevant to executive leadership. Executives build a climate of openness for individuals to exchange ideas. Knowledge is accumulated by creating a new approach to gathering, evaluating, and disseminating information throughout the organizations.

Executives inspire people to create new ideas and develop effective mechanisms to acquire knowledge from various sources such as suppliers, customers, business partners, and competitors. This is similar to a value-chain approach. Executives need to first support this approach for the model to work because they play a strategic role in expanding the knowledge accumulation through applying incentives as mechanisms to develop a more innovative climate and managing effective tools to acquire knowledge from external sources.

Executives then integrate knowledge internally to enhance the effectiveness and efficiencies in various systems and processes, as well as to be more responsive to market changes.

Accumulated knowledge is synthesized to produce higher quality outcomes. Thus, knowledge integration focuses on monitoring and controlling knowledge management practices, evaluating the effectiveness of current knowledge, defining and recognizing core knowledge areas, coordinating expert opinions, sharing organizational knowledge, and scanning for new knowledge to keep the quality of their product or services continuously improving.

Executives can promote knowledge integration by creating expert groups or steering committees to enhance knowledge quality and evaluate knowledge assets. Follower’s diversity of skills and interpersonal relations that is based on trust and reciprocity can improve the performance of group cohesiveness.

Therefore, in the process of knowledge integration, knowledge enters organizational processes and provides valuable contributions to products and services. Executives as leaders steering the organizational strategy facilitate this process, by undertaking initiatives that improve knowledge transfer, thus enhancing the performance of employees and the implementation of effective changes to maintain the quality of products and services. The burden of success when the effective implementation of knowledge integration is concerned is heavily dependent on the capabilities of the organization’s leaders.

Executives must also curtail knowledge within organizations. This knowledge needs to be reconfigured to meet environmental changes and new challenges. At the same time, it should not be leaked to the competition in any shape or form unless agreed upon by senior executives. When executives agree to share knowledge with other organizations in the environment, studies have shown that that knowledge is often difficult to share externally. One reason is that other organizations have too much pride to accept knowledge or are apprehensive to expose themselves to the competition.

Therefore, executives may lack the required capabilities to interact with other organizations, or distrust sharing their knowledge. In addition, just the notion of creating an expert group or steering committee may be shortsighted because such groups may not have sufficient diversity to comprehend knowledge acquired from external sources. On the other hand, executives are aware of networking with business partners is a key activity for organizations to enhance knowledge exchange.

Networking is a critical concern for leaders in this process is developing alliances with partners in external environments. Executives and their expert groups and/or steering committees are the ones who can make final decisions about developing alliances with business partners.   Figure 1 depicts this model of knowledge management.

In Conclusion

There are some executives that like to look at academic journals but unfortunately, the crossover literature has not reached them enough. This article attempts to blend scholarly concepts with real-world applications. This article introduces an applicable model to evaluate knowledge management success. Also, this article provides evidence that knowledge management is used in corporate infrastructure for strategic decision-making.

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Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.