Shipping giant Maersk says business process innovation, automation, and increasing collaboration between suppliers and operators will help to create a greener and more competitive future for global trade.
Known for its fleet of enormous ships transporting everything from raw materials to consumer products, the Danish logistics company is aiming to become net-zero by 2040. As well, 30 per cent of ocean journeys will be powered using sustainable fuels within the decade. Maersk operates around 700 sea vessels worldwide.
“Decarbonisation in global trade is a team sport. It takes everyone’s involvement to measure and share information on how emissions are omitted throughout the supply chain.
“Technology such as analytics, AI, platform models, and blockchain can help our industry make sense and leverage that information,” Paul Bray, Technology Platform Leader (Finance and Tax) at Maersk, said.
Speaking on the SAP Euronews Next vodcast hosted by Jesper Schleimann, Strategy and Innovation Officer at SAP, and Adrian Wolf, Strategic Customer Programs at SAP, Bray discusses how finance automation and platform models play an important role in reaching strategic environmental and digital goals.
Above all, he said, it’s an evolutionary process that requires transparency, agility, and human ingenuity.
Creating financial transparency
From the carbon emissions omitted by ships, trucks, and air cargo to the environmental costs of production and packaging, it’s clear that the logistics and transportation industry damages the environment.
Using real-time data to understand the role of finance within the different stages of the supply chain, and end-to-end business operations, helps leaders better solve these environmental challenges.
By exposing trends and making the investment, transaction, or supplier data more transparent, the right environmental and digital improvements can be made, and time is freed up for higher value tasks, argues Bray.
“By making data transparent, we are better able to understand which repetitive processes can be automated with technology platforms or if capital can be redeployed to find less carbon-intensive alternatives.”
Platform models, for instance that encompass both technology and business units are replacing centralised IT departments and supporting huge organisations like Merek, to evolve and scale up digital solutions, such as the electrification of fleets, faster.
As the company expands beyond ocean logistics and into inland freight as well as related supply chain services, standardisation of services becomes even more critical.
“To be a global integrator of container logistics, we need to create a standardised process to scale effectively and so that customers know what they are getting each time. Having processes standardised ensures we can track our emission goals accurately too.”
Innovate with speed
Once a clearer picture of the financial functions and processes are established, integrating the right solutions comes next. Software platforms help to capture and make sense of finance data which supports decision making such around suppliers or acquisitions.
The most important element in this step is agility, Bray says, because this is what creates a competitive edge in an industry where pace is critical, and the environment is continuously changing.
“Once we have identified the opportunities, we make changes as fast as possible until we have to make the next change because transformation is never really complete. How fast we invest into electrification of our trucks, for example, will have a bigger impact on our decarbonisation goals,” said Bray.
As one of the largest shipping companies in the world, Maersk has created an open ESG knowledge center for industry stakeholders so they can participate and share this knowledge too.
“No company can decarbonize an industry alone so by communicating with our customers, suppliers and with everyone who is somehow involved in the supply chain we can measure the carbon data collaboration across the supply chain. It's a huge undertaking”.
In-sourcing and building a technical team with business capabilities is the next element of Maersk’s path to transformation. It’s also an economical way to improve the business and support other divisions to leverage the power of data.
“We are creating an end-to-end solution that encompasses transportation, logistics, warehousing, and other support systems so sharing what we do and how we do it helps other sections of our business work towards the same goal.
“Building those capabilities internally where we build and scale our own products and services is something we are proud of”.
Integrating platform models, automation, and building diverse teams ultimately plays a critical role in creating a competitive and strong shipping company operating in a low-carbon economy.
“We want to be a digital company that does transportation and through a journey of continuous innovation and enthusiasm to change, we are getting there.”
• Click on the media player to listen to the full vodcast between Paul Bray, Technology Platform Leader, Finance and Tax, at Maersk and Jesper Schleimann, Strategy and Innovation Officer at SAP and Adrian Wolf, Strategic Customer Programs at SAP.