2013 won’t be flashy in terms of metrics and benchmarks, but will in fact be a time of gradual and significant reform. After years of compulsively building up capacity instead of solving the backbone problem of ineffective utilization, carriers and ports have no choice but to rethink and revamp their strategies. With vessel layups becoming commonplace, carriers face the prospects of changing course or getting out of the business altogether. This is especially true for smaller operators with more constricted balance sheets.
Trade volumes will continue to be weak in the economically stressed regions of Europe and North America. Consumers will remain cautious in their spending habits as the depressed job market eats into disposable incomes. Retailers will continue to look for new ways to sell less for less and still pad the bottom line.
In terms of supply chain efficiency, IT developments of the past two years will be streamlined and put into action. IT increasingly is recognized as a make-or-break competitive factor, and vendors will continue to invest heavily in research and development. There will be intense back-and-forth communications to determine what clients want and need, and the companies that effectively harness this information will emerge as first-movers.
Manufacturers and retailers understand that new software tools, no matter how powerful, are no substitute for innovation and creativity in how such solutions are applied to the workplace. Providers will continue to be judged on how well services can be tailored to meet each customer’s specific business requirements and how quickly hiccups are fixed.