Brexit studies confirm urgent need for action to modernise global trade and logistics processes

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There have been concerns about a skills shortage in global trade and supply chain management in the UK for a while now.

But new survey results from Deloitte highlight the risk of a potential crisis under Brexit developments: over a third of EU workers – many of them highly-skilled – are thinking about leaving the UK due to uncertainty about their future status.

That’s bad news for global trade and international logistics. But the Deloitte report also includes four recommendations on how to counteract the current trend:

1.     Implement an immigration system that acknowledges the personal choices of international talent

2.     Invest to upskill workers of all ages

3.     Embrace the digital revolution and invest in technology to automate recurring tasks

4.     Work at regional level to create a suitable local response

Deloitte’s study highlights both the importance and the urgency for educators, policymakers, and businesses to jointly address challenges and opportunities, increase proficiency in core skills, and improve productivity.

While staff training, education, and suitable work environments are of vital importance, I would like to emphasise the significant potential of point 3. In fact, the relevance of digitisation for business continuity cannot be overstated. Regardless of the outcome of Brexit negotiations, future trade models, and immigration policies, investing in technology to modernise business processes delivers immediate benefits while catering for the future.

Digitisation drives several objectives at once: efficiency, competitiveness, cost reductions, and creating more attractive workplaces. Even without the added challenges under Brexit, there is great pressure on businesses to catch up with technology advances to meet customer expectations and keep a competitive edge amidst start-ups and new, disruptive business models.

This applies especially to the area of global trade and supply chain management, where the need for speed is great and the regulatory environment is tough. And there are a great number and variety of tasks in supply chain management across borders that lend themselves well to automation, for example in fields like carrier integration, warehousing, and customs management. The last area, of course, being highly dynamic – considering Brexit, but also other global trade developments, with sanctions and preferential agreements changing all the time.

For businesses that have not recognised the potential of digitisation for their own global trade compliance programmes, latest studies are a timely reminder. With so much pressure and ongoing changes, the urgency has become great to carefully scrutinise existing IT infrastructure and ensure the right landscape is in place to:

  • Manage dynamic changes
  • Run efficient supply chains
  • Train, develop, and attract skilled global trade experts

Additional research published in May 2017 by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) confirms the urgent need for action in this area. When asked about their greatest challenges, 33 percent of over 2,000 surveyed supply chain managers quoted – guess what? Yes: a lack of supply chain expertise and knowledge in the UK.

And worryingly, the CIPS study also reports that 23 percent of respondents have not even begun to prepare for Brexit and its impact on the various areas of international supply chains. That is a shockingly high number, considering the many different areas that will be affected and the available options.

A tangible example is customs management, which has been in the media spotlight for some time now: the number of customs declarations is expected to increase significantly after Brexit and the UK government is facing additional challenges from a massive customs IT system transition – from the current “CHIEF” to the new “CDS” system.

Clearly, there is plenty of opportunity for UK businesses to start future-proofing. The article “Before or after Brexit: why supply chain success depends on global trade and customs procedures, published on this blog in June, explains this in more detail.

Let’s get started!

Iqubal Singh Pannu

Iqubal Singh Pannu is Senior Solutions Consultant at AEB in the UK and has been with the company since 2006. With considerable consultancy and project management experience, spanning several areas of the supply chain, Iqubal is advising companies on solutions for optimising supply chain performance and generating value through automated global trade and logistics processes.

Comments (1)

  1. supply chain solutions:
    Aug 23, 2017 at 01:26 PM

    International trade is a major economic driver for the development of the countries. In this, the role of digitalization is remarkable. Around 90% of trade is carried out through logistics services. Thank you so much for sharing the above information.

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