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Benefits of mobile and cloud technology far outstrip original design

Posted on 2nd December 2015 by YmeriHart

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The rapid expansion of mobile (cell) phone use in the developing world is bringing benefits that were never originally envisaged – for instance, improved levels of literacy.

As more and more people use mobile phones (the UN estimates that 6 billion of the world’s 7 billion people have access to the mobile phone), so the numbers of people reading books on their phone is increasing.

UNESCO has long identified literacy as a cornerstone of education and, of course, education is the best way to raise people’s standards of living and their ability to contribute to a country’s growth and development. By giving people – especially young people – access to libraries ‘in the cloud’, mobile phones are performing functions way beyond what they were originally designed for.

In the field of transport too, mobile communication is transforming supply chains in ways which the early adopters are unlikely to ever have thought of. And the effects are both much greater and more rapid in developing countries which are ‘greenfield’ sites. This is because the innovators do not need to win arguments about replacing existing legacy systems – which often have evolved over many years of long and expensive investment.

At the recent Ti conference in Singapore, Mirek Dabrowski of oTMS, outlined how his company’s cloud-based transport management system is transforming supply chains in China.

oTMS is the leading and fastest growing cloud+mobile transport management platform in China, linking one million shipments a month handled by 250 transport providers, 10 public carriers and 10,000 drivers.

Transport management systems are especially important in China where the road freight industry is notoriously fragmented: the top ten carriers have a mere 1.8% market share; there are nearly 790,000 licenced carriers as well as over 2.5m freight brokers; and, of the 16m heavy trucks, about 85% are driver-owned.

The inefficiency of the system is obvious. The China Purchasing and Logistics Federation estimates that empty running of road freight vehicles tops more than 50%. In mature markets such as Europe, the figure is less than half (Eurostat McKinnon reckons 23%). And in most cases, there is no electronic record of which cargo is in which truck at any particular time.

Dabrowski explains that the benefits of using oTMS, or even less sophisticated technologies, cascade throughout the supply chain and offer much more than track&trace and greatly improved levels of accuracy of deliveries.

For instance, the seller can gain 15-30 days of net working capital through automatic PoD (Proof of delivery) and billing; costs of administration are slashed and levels of damage and loss are greatly reduced.

And there are also the general benefits to the economy and population to consider – such as cutting congestion and pollution by the more efficient deployment of road vehicles.

Just like the expansion of mobile phone technology, the development of transport management software systems has the ability to impact positively on the wider community and raise living standards as well as offer economic opportunities in developing countries.

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