What role will you play in the digitised future?

Blog AP Automation, AR Automation, Sales and Order Management, eProcurement Best practice December 13, 2019

“Data is the new oil!” Is the logistics arena the first industry riddled with legacy technology that will fully embrace the digitised future? If so, what will you be? A miner, a refiner or a consumer of the ‘new oil’?

Data is the new oil

The analogy with oil in the popular phrase above has more to do with the discussion concerning the competitive landscape of the big tech giants and the potential profits to be gained from data than on digitisation per se. But it’s an interesting analogy and, above all, it sticks!

So far, digitisation and the ensuing digitalisation have been focused on social media and e-commerce, whereas more traditional arenas are mostly talking and testing, e.g. Industry 4.0. This isn’t strange at all. On the contrary, all current applications of the ‘new oil’ stem from an already 100% digitised world, aka the Internet.

IoT, 5G and Industry 4.0

The more legacy-burdened industries are still focusing on IoT in order to get out of the starting blocks. The inherent problem with IoT is the nature of its hardware, which means that everyone is building their own sets of hardware to solve a specific problem. IoT has been around for a while, some claim it’s been around since 1832!

In other words, we have been working on the problem for quite some time now, but the stars may be aligned for a real breakthrough – it’s called 5G and behold: it is already here! As soon as all IoT gadgets start talking to the 5G network and our connection between IRL and the Net is standardised, globally deployed, secure and open, initiatives like Industry 4.0 (so far mainly run as in-house high-tech projects) can move into a new phase.

Industries more likely to embrace the change

It’s likely, though, that most Industry 4.0 projects in the manufacturing industry won’t extend beyond a company’s internal network, and willingness to share that data with external parties will probably be limited. No, it’s far more likely that industries dependant on being part of a network will adopt the real benefits of 5G and digitisation as an industry standard. Industries such as construction, transport and logistics, and certain state-owned industries like healthcare, etc.

These industries have basic attributes in common with social media and e-commerce; it’s far more profitable to share information (subject to regulations, naturally) than to hold it to your chest like a seasoned poker player. They therefore have a real chance to fully embrace digitisation and subscribe to the ‘new oil’ analogy.

Company roles in the new business space

However, just like oil changed the world over 100 years ago, data will change business as we know it today. Proprietary applications, point-to-point connections, on-premise software and many managed services will disappear or, like the Greek god Morpheus, take on new forms.

I see three distinct roles in this new business space:

  • The miner – a company that owns, leases or controls the IoT hardware for a specific area (business, geography, industry) and extracts the data in various formats for its own use and/or to sell onwards
  • The refiner – a company or product that subscribes to data from different miners, and then structures, verifies, stores, and differentiates between data via AI technologies. Defender of data integrity.
  • The consumer – a company that subscribes to and/or buys the results from the refiner and derives business value therefrom. The owner of the refined data.

As a consumer of the new oil, it’s high time to start thinking about whether your current partners are miners or refiners or, perhaps, something completely different?

At Pagero Freight Solutions, we are already defining ourselves as refiners and our network of miners is growing by the day.