As published online at businesssavannah.com: In a pivotal scene of the movie “Scarface,” Cuban refugee Tony Montana (played by Al Pacino) watches as a Pan American blimp passes him overhead with the slogan “The World is Yours” electronically scrolling across its massive side. Although that movie came out more than 30 years ago, that phrase has never been more true than right now.
For business owners — especially those of us in the logistics industry – the world has been shrinking for some time now. We’re able to interact and integrate with international companies and not just those in our own time zone. This process has been driven by global trade and investment and certainly aided by information technology.
Globalization has impacted the speed of business in a number of ways: increased competition, the use of new technologies, and easy information exchange. In logistics, we’ve seen the world move to a just-in-time inventory model, as warehousing costs have skyrocketed in many areas of the globe. It’s imperative for businesses to not only keep up, but stay a few steps ahead of their competition in order to be successful.
One way to do this is through innovation. No longer just a buzzword, innovation has become a necessity for companies operating in the global marketplace. According to the 2016 Georgia Manufacturing Survey, Georgia manufacturers across a variety of sectors are increasingly focused on incorporating new technologies into their operations, such as automated customer ordering, process improvement and computer-aided design. With ocean carrier overcapacity still abundant and historically low freight rates in place, now is the time to be pushed to a new maturity level with digitization to stay ahead.
For those of us in the importing-exporting business, accuracy is of the utmost importance. Moving product internationally, across borders, and through multiple Customs authorities, offers little forgiveness to errors, small or large. At Page International, we developed a proprietary operating system to provide internal checkpoints and allow our customers to know where their shipments are in the global supply chain at any given time. This enables better customer service, which in turn grows business and jobs, and minimizes human error when transferring data from computer to computer. From the time an order is made and entered into Page’s system, the buyer and seller can monitor its physical status, along with its important paperwork, on our website 24/7 from the exporter’s door through the arrival at importer’s door.
This is just one way we innovated, but businesses across all industry sectors can incorporate new, technology-driven processes. The most successful innovative companies – whether they’re a shop of five or 500 – have a number of characteristics in common:
View innovation as a means to achieving strategic goals rather than an end goal. Companies should never pat themselves on the back for achieving innovation. It is an ever-evolving and always-changing process. The key question to ask yourself is: does this tool help my company achieve its strategic goals? If it doesn’t, or if there are ways to improve upon it, there is an opportunity for innovation.
Value collaboration and integration. In a global supply chain, collaboration with others — especially to condense the time between sales and production and shipping — is one area in which innovation takes place. Successful companies also break down internal silos and integrate functions to develop creative solutions.
Believe the customer is always right. The old saying isn’t just an adage; it’s a way of life for innovative companies. The most successful businesses listen to their customers and do their best to make sure they’re satisfied. They continually adapt to best serve their customers’ needs and provide solutions.
Manufacturing and logistics are both vibrant and profitable parts of the state’s economy, and incorporating smart, innovative strategies will only serve to keep these sectors competitive with the rest of our shrinking world.
Patrick Page is the president and Chief Operating Officer of Page International. His primary responsibilities focus on sustaining the development of all operations conducted by Page International including international logistics services, U.S. customs services, administration, human resources, sales, and finance. He can be reached at 912-964-PAGE or firstname.lastname@example.org.