This article was originally published by Nick Pike in IT Pro Portal, on June 22 2017
The UK logistics sector is massive. It’s worth approximately £55 billion to the UK economy and makes up five percent of UK GDP, with 1.7 million people employed by over 63,000 companies. As with many industries, the sector faces various internal and external challenges including stiff competition, price erosion, fuel costs, infrastructure challenges and security, legislation, and governance issues. Other industries have found there is much to be gained from digitally transforming the organization.
In order to drive agility, logistics organizations need a faster way to deliver applications and they need to automate previously manual processes. As e-commerce continues to grow, transportation and logistics companies are under mounting pressure for ever faster delivery services, with customers demanding more visibility and control.
Increasing fuel prices are having a direct impact on transportation and logistics companies, and at the same time, there is a growing global focus on climate change with new environmental regulations affecting these businesses. This requires companies to revisit strategic plans and to understand the issues that are likely to create or diminish value. Increased competition in the market is also a challenge not only from new agile and disruptive businesses who were born digital, but also from the consolidation of larger companies. This has resulted in significant pressure on price and has therefore resulted in lower margins. As a consequence, companies are desperately trying to differentiate themselves by offering a more diversified portfolio of services and by automating as much of the supply chain process as possible.
Transportation and logistics CEOs see these threats not only looming but expanding. They recognize that the market environment is changing dramatically, as are the expectations of stakeholders from customers to employees. Technology stands out as both a force causing change as well as a way to manage it. Defining, managing and measuring risk is also a top priority to get better at meeting customer needs. For IT and business leaders within these companies, it’s important to evaluate and choose the approach that will deliver the most business value to the organization.
This is where the inherent value of low-code development in this sector comes in. Low-code platforms bring IT and the business together, enabling more rapid, iterative and collaborative development. Applications can be rapidly built, seamlessly deployed and easily changed—all without the need for low-level coding. In addition, these platforms provide an excellent communication mechanism to align business and IT stakeholders, thereby ensuring greater software quality and more successful business outcomes.
OutSystems has a strong pedigree of working with organizations in the transportation and logistics industry. Companies that we have worked with on a global basis include Deutsche Bahn AG, Estafeta, RET and Via Verde to name but a few. For example, Via Verde, a leading provider of management services for tool systems used by vehicles in highways and bridges, was facing a 300 percent increase in service demand that its existing applications simply could not handle.
OutSystems was used to rebuild and replace its Java-based web portals. Due to legal constraints, time to market was critical and everything needed to be in place and live within five months. OutSystems delivered a new customer portal, a partner and corporate website on time which resulted in a 400 percent increase in web traffic and more than 275,000 transactions in the first year alone.
Below are other key benefits that a company within this sector can achieve with a successful low-code platform:
Improved Agility and Flexibility
In the long run, apps built with low-code platforms help organizations become more agile. Visual design that allows drawing instead of coding can exponentially speed development. This is critical in a market where new disruptive competitors are appearing all the time. Low-code development also makes changing apps, or adapting them to suit new requirements, easy. There’s no need to get into complex coding - this facilitates immediate change when needed, which in the constantly evolving e-commerce market is critical for logistics organizations to stay abreast.
With the ability to build more apps in less time costs decrease. This is essential when margins are being eroded. Low-code development reduces the need for more developers thereby reducing hiring costs. Also, costs are decreased as low-code apps are cheaper and easier to maintain. Over time, the benefit would mean a decrease maintenance costs, thus reducing technical debt and freeing budget for modernization or innovation. The right low-code platform can make everyone in the organisation—not just IT—more productive.
Low-code development allows more apps to be built in less time. What used to take months can be reduced to weeks…even days.
Better Customer Experience
Low-code development impacts more than the IT department. The effects of increased speed include a better customer experience. With low-code development, organizations can quickly adapt to market changes or customer needs. For example, OutSystems was used to develop a web application to enable RET in Rotterdam the ability to successfully transport over 600,000 passengers every day in and around the city. The web application that RET developed provides real-time information to Rotterdam travelers about planned and unplanned disruptions in public transportation such as buses, trains, subways and trams, and information is shared via its corporate website, Twitter, SMS, radio broadcasts and using digital displays at bus stops.
Effective Risk Management
With ever-changing regulations, not to mention the sheer scale of this legislation globally, how can a logistics organization keep up? Low-code development allows for fast change so you can meet requirements and stay ahead of deadlines.
In today’s digital world transformation is needed. Low-code development removes complexity from building great, modern business apps. At the end of the day, reduced complexity means smoother sailing. With these low-code benefits, logistic organizations will be better equipped to quickly adapt and respond to the fast-changing nature of their business and stay one step ahead of the competition.