Speed and risk minimisation will be the top issues concerning global supply chain executives over the next year, according to a survey by software company AEB and the University DHBW in Stuttgart.
More than half of 330 logistics and global trade experts also reported major shortcomings in talent in the Global Trade Management Agenda 2017 study.
Dirk Hartel, head of the department of business administration service logistics management at DHBW Stuttgart and co-author of the study, said: “Customer demands for fast shipping continue to increase and place high pressures on companies in the industrial and commercial sectors as well as on transport and logistics businesses.
“Companies ask for innovative ideas and new technologies, such as package delivery by drone, but also for optimised and smooth processes,” said Hartel.
Yet the bulk of respondents were satisfied with their company’s position in this area. Some 41.2% felt there was room to improve lead times and time to delivery.
As in last year’s study, shorter lead times and time to delivery were ranked as the most important issues.
Minimising supply chain risk is another top issue, and was ranked as very important by 65% of those surveyed.
And once again the bulk of respondents were satisfied with their organisation’s performance here. Some 42% thought there were major shortcomings or could envisage significant improvements in this area.
A further 61.6% of respondents considered implementing changes to customs laws to be an important, or very important, challenge in 2017.
The report noted that it was “interesting” that this percentage was similar to last year, despite the fact that Brexit took place before most respondents answered this year’s survey.
The area where the greatest need for improvement was seen was with talent management.
“The self-diagnosis here is quite critical, with half of respondents reporting that their own companies come up short in this area,” said the report.
Yet it noted that while this topic ranked fourth in importance in last year’s survey, it fell to eighth place this year.
Around 47% of participants consider talent management to be an important or very important topic in 2017.
“The problem of a shortage in skilled labour is much less pressing for smaller companies and for very large enterprises, according to our study,” says Ulrich Lison, portfolio manager and member of the executive board at AEB.
“The former frequently only need very few new employees, the latter typically have an image advantage as attractive employers, possibly leaving them less affected by the shortage of skilled labour.”