Logistics News Middle East - - Op-ed -

It is 2018 and those still strug­gling to wrap their heads around the no­tion of change have al­ready be­come ir­rel­e­vant. Change, trans­for­ma­tion, evo­lu­tion, and, one dare­say, ‘revo­lu­tion’— are a fact of life. We are no longer merely an­tic­i­pat­ing or pre­dict­ing change. In­stead, we are al­ready thick in the mid­dle of one of the most rapidly evolv­ing eras in the his­tory of mankind.

To­day, the name of the game is ‘trans­for­ma­tion’ – how we choose to re­spond, re­act, ad­just, and even cap­i­talise on the changes that are hap­pen­ing around us every wak­ing mo­ment. It is im­por­tant to un­der­stand the nu­anced dif­fer­ence be­tween change and trans­for­ma­tion. Change merely in­di­cates a shift of any kind in the sta­tus quo. It can be small and in­cre­men­tal, pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive, or even in­con­se­quen­tial. On the other hand, trans­for­ma­tion im­plies a sig­nif­i­cant, fun­da­men­tal change that is of­ten large-scale and per­ma­nent. Change in­di­cates a state of flux, whereas trans­for­ma­tion in­volves a de­ci­sive ‘let­ting go’ of the past to em­brace a new way of do­ing things.

At LOGISYM Dubai 2018, held on Fe­bru­ary 13 and 14 at the Jumeirah Creek­side Ho­tel, we fo­cused on the theme ‘Dis­rup­tive Changes, Trans­for­ma­tive Pos­si­bil­i­ties in the Sup­ply Chains of To­mor­row’. In par­tic­u­lar, we grap­pled with trans­for­ma­tion in the lo­gis­tics and sup­ply chain in­dus­try at both a macro and mi­cro level. Draw­ing from global knowl­edge and re­gional ex­per­tise, we honed on the rel­e­vance of the changes on the hori­zon – both promis­ing and chal­leng­ing. We dis­cussed the trans­for­ma­tion that will in­evitably en­tail as GCC economies di­ver­sify and dis­rup­tors set new prece­dents and ad­dress cru­cial gaps in ca­pac­ity, per­for­mance, and ca­pa­bil­ity in sup­ply chains across in­dus­tries, rang­ing from con­struc­tion to fi­nance to F&B.

In­deed, it was no co­in­ci­dence that LOGISYM Dubai fell on Valen­tine’s Day this year. In many ways, the day is an an­nual feat in sup­ply chain ex­cel­lence, as mil­lions of roses are shipped fresh, largely from Kenya (one of the world’s largest ex­porter of roses) to ar­rive in flower shops and doorsteps in record time and per­fect con­di­tion. It re­quires this com­plex sup­ply chain to op­er­ate like clock­work for Valen­tine’s Day to be as spe­cial as our part­ners ex­pect it to be. To demon­strate this, we part­nered with key re­gional dis­rup­tors, VP Group, and their freight for­ward­ing part­ner Flower Ex­change, as well as B2B ecom­merce plat­form Flo­ra­now, to sup­ply 500 red roses for our guests on day of the event.

How­ever, since there is noth­ing more pow­er­ful in pro­vok­ing thought and re­ac­tion than a demon­stra­tion of dis­rup­tion in ac­tion, we de­cided to take our show­case a step fur­ther – or ac­tu­ally, 10 feet above the ground. Space Au­tonomous Drones, the first li­censed com­mer­cial drone provider in the Mid­dle East, or­ches­trated the de­liv­ery of roses via drone at our event, to il­lus­trate what last mile de­liv­ery shall in­evitably look like in the near fu­ture.

None­the­less, while dig­i­tal dis­rup­tion may be the big­gest buzz­words of the mo­ment, the sig­nif­i­cance of as­tute lead­er­ship and hu­man re­source ca­pa­bil­i­ties can­not be over­looked by or­gan­i­sa­tions ea­ger to pre­pare for the in­evitable trans­for­ma­tions ahead. This was recog­nised at the con­fer­ence as well, dur­ing one of our clos­ing pan­els ti­tled ‘Trans­for­ma­tional Lead­er­ship in a Mid­dle East In­te­grated World’.

The panel, which fea­tured lead­ing in­ter­na­tional re­cruit­ment spe­cial­ists, be­havioural ex­perts and pro­fes­sors, em­pha­sised the role of lead­er­ship in fos­ter­ing young tal­ent that can help busi­nesses har­ness trans­for­ma­tion for busi­ness suc­cess, rather than mere sur­vival.

There is noth­ing more pow­er­ful in pro­vok­ing thought and re­ac­tion than a demon­stra­tion of dis­rup­tion in ac­tion.”

Car­rie Amani Annabi, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor and di­rec­tor of the Lo­gis­tics and Sup­ply Chain De­gree post­grad­u­ate pro­gram at He­riot-watt Uni­ver­sity, urged in­dus­try lead­ers and their tal­ent – young and old– to re­main au­then­tic, rather than forc­ing them­selves into old-school moulds. She also high­lighted the need to en­cour­age and em­brace more fe­male par­tic­i­pa­tion in the in­dus­try to broaden the pool of tal­ent and in­ject more dy­namism and cre­ativ­ity in the in­dus­try.

Carmel Perales, gen­eral man­ager – South East Asia, at Lo­gis­tics Ex­ec­u­tive Group, who has ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in re­cruit­ment and hu­man cap­i­tal con­sult­ing, dis­cussed the lack of suc­ces­sion plan­ning fu­elling lead­er­ship gaps in firms across the in­dus­try.

“In terms of the way, most or­gan­i­sa­tions seem to be struc­tured in the in­dus­try, es­pe­cially in Asia and the Mid­dle East, there is a lack of youth in mid­dle man­age­ment be­ing groomed for se­nior level po­si­tions,” she notes. “This causes a lot of young tal­ent to drop out or switch in­dus­tries in or­der to ad­vance in their ca­reers.”

As these per­spec­tives in­di­cate, trans­for­ma­tional lead­er­ship in to­day’s in­dus­try is not merely about ef­fec­tive work­force man­age­ment, but also em­pow­er­ment, ed­u­ca­tion, and dy­namic com­mu­ni­ca­tion. In many ways, dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion is merely about pro­vid­ing the tools to al­low or­gan­i­sa­tions to achieve this. At the end of the day, it is the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s lead­er­ship and hu­man cap­i­tal po­ten­tial that de­ter­mines how op­ti­mally these new dig­i­tal tools and re­sources are utilised and cal­i­brated to meet or­gan­i­sa­tional ob­jec­tives.

There­fore, iron­i­cally, while the way we do things may con­tinue to evolve at a faster rate each day, hu­man cap­i­tal con­tin­ues to re­main a key driver of busi­ness suc­cess. De­spite the buzz around glitzy gad­gets and glam­orous tech­nol­ogy, it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that cut­ting-edge com­puter al­go­rithms don’t write them­selves. It takes a hu­man mind will­ing to get un­com­fort­able, con­front a prob­lem, and har­ness re­sources op­ti­mally in or­der to ex­plore un­charted ter­ri­to­ries and trans­form busi­nesses for the bet­ter.

A rosy pic­ture: drone in ac­tion at LOGISYM Dubai 2018

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