On Friday 11th March all Japanese ports were closed due to the imminent impact of tsunami after Pacific North was hit by almost 9 magnitude earthquake. The natural disaster occurred 2 weeks ago forced authorities to evacuate all ports and stop operations until tsunami risk was over.
The north part of the island was most affected. Sendai port, one of the most important Japanese north commercial ports, was totally destroyed: thousands of containers with cargo were swept away from the container terminals while mega vessels were pushed inland and smashed the buildings close to the harbour area.
Nevertheless, the main ocean lines have not interrupted maritime traffic with Japan or other affected Northern-pacific ports. Maersk, for example, confirmed no employees were harmed at home or at work during the natural disaster and the equipment suffered little damage. Others like Orient overseas confirmed they only lost 500 containers.
Despite what everybody might imagine, in Europe clothes, games or music are not the 2010 online best-seller. The best-sold online service during last year was TRANSPORT, and it reached 15% of internet sales, followed by travelling and vacation with a 12%.
In total, if we put transport of goods and passengers together, we see they hold almost 30% of all internet sales in Europe. This means the ocean transport industry, along with air and road transport as well as with 3PLs, must be aware of the power internet can offer them to boost up sales figures.
Further on, European e-consumers are still more active in the Northern regions. The Dutch, the British and the Scandivanians buy over 60% of their consumer goods online!
Southern and eastern Europeans prefer to go out and buy outdoors, maybe the result of their good weather and their out-going cultures. However, both Italian and Spanish use online services to buy 95% of their travelling or transport.
The particularities and low price for conventional ocean transport make it an “easy-to-buy” service online. Worldwide lines offer online booking services, in user-friendly environments, the same that display their tracking and tracing information facilities, as well as secure payment conditions.
Dutch e-consumers are one of the most active in the whole Europe: in Holland, 63% of sales are done online. From a cruise in the Caribbean to buy a house in the Mediterranean, Dutch spend a considerable amount of money in products and services they can buy in the internet.
Ocean transport offers secure and friendly-user online facilities; nowadays ordering one 20’ DRY from Hong Kong to Hamburg is easier than buying a pair of shoes.
Cinema and literature already predicted this would happen. Like in the movie Paycheque, remember the future, where Ben Affleck designed and monitored a device similar to a Living Earth Simulator, but then he had to partially erase his memory or he was tempted to constantly change the future.
BBC reported late December 2010 about the most ambitious computer project ever conceived so far. The CERN international group of scientists just finished the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva (Switzerland). Now they started to work on the FuturICT Knowledge Acceletaror. This project, in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institue of Technology, aims to increase the comprehension of human and environmental systems. Reality or fiction?
Dr. Helbing, president of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. stated: “many problems we have today, like social and economic instabilities, wars and disease spreadings, are related to human behaviour. But there is a serious lack of understanding towards how society and the economy work. Revealing the hidden laws and processes underlying societies constitutes the most pressing grand scientific challenge of our time.”
True, but for enabling FutureICT it is mandatory to integrate billions of real-time data-feeds from millions of sources. Being handled by the very team that developed the Large Hadron Collider, this process should be in good hands. From financial markets, to changing atmospheric conditions, from medical records to key online selling points and products, from air and ocean immediate traffic results to social media and beyond.
FutureICT has been created in response to the Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship program initiatives within the EU. The ‘FET Flagship pilots’-report published this month, indicates 6 pilot activities to run during this year: LES, CA-Robocom, ITFoM, HBP-PS, Guardian Angels and Graphene-CA.
This year the hottest European Fashion Industry trade shows have started maybe more timidly than other years. Companies seem to still be reluctant to over invest in too many events and they have become more selective and conservative, both as visitors and exhibitors.
This year the trade show Pure London took place at the Olympia and Earls Court from the 13th till the 15th February. The event receives over 12000 visitors each year. According to Pure London organizers, companies who visit the show spend an average of 90.000 pounds a year on orders resulting from the contacts they did in the show.
Last year Berlin only hold a show for 5.000 visitors and despite some say the quality of the brands has also decreased since it left the Catalan capital, still BB is one of the most innovative trade shows for the Fashion Industry in Europe.
Germany also holds other fantastic events like the CPD Signatures at Düsseldorf, which is closer in structure to the Interfilière at Paris. The latter has traditionally been a reference in swimware and intimate apparel for buyers worldwide; companies like The Limited or Inditex Group Raw Materials Directors never miss Interfilière, where they usually look for specific innovative fabrics for their new collections.
Internet is the market place of the present and the future. In the past 5 years, consumers have turned to online
catalogues, web-shops and web-malls to find better offers than in the physical stores.
Despite any known brand has its own online shopping tools in their own website (so you can buy directly to them at the same price than in their stores), the latest market trends show this is insufficient. Many e-consumers are seeking further advantages in service, like FOC deliveries or samples, special deals which can only be found in particular sites.
Web-malls are becoming more popular because they allow consumers to save lots of money, enticing target audience to buy more based on discounts, no costs for shipping, or special offers combining various products from different brands, etc.
Therefore, many brands have also turned their attention to web-malls third parties that easily support additional online stores and increase their online target clients using other internet channels but their own website-shop to create more up-sales opportunities.
Since end of last year, Amsterdam Schiphol airport uses full-body scanners in human controls. The Dutch were the first ones in all Europe to install it and put it into work effectively, while in the USA, more than 80 airports started using these mega scanners between November 2010 and today.
Paris CDG, London Heathrow or Manchester airports have started using this wonderful technology as well in 2011. The main Italian airports (Rome Fiumicino, Milano Malpensa, Venice and Naples) also put full-body scanners in place, but they are not into work yet.
The idea is initially good, as it allows more fluency of human traffic going through airport controls while it is a lot more accurate to identify possible weapons or drugs hidden below the clothes.
However, in the UK the debate is now focused in discussing whether full-body scanners violate people’s integrity, pornography laws, and other relevant moral schemes that should be taken into account.
Manufacturers state the machines are perfectly safe for humans and present no health risk at all; however no third-party has ever conducted any long-term safety testing or clinical trials. Only some recent investigation seems to proof that this type of millimetre wave scanners used for whole-body imaging are emitting energy that can damage our DNA.
CLIA (or Cruise Lines International Association) has published results of their December survey to travel agents: the cruises industry outlook for 2011 is very positive and agents expect to hit sales records, with 86% of agents being sure cruises travel sales should be remarkably higher than in 2010.
Following this enthusiastic outlook, CLIA members are already aligning with the market trends: 14 new mega-cruise vessels are expected to be released into the ocean this year and global itineraries continue to be diversified and optimized on a regular basis.
Mitsubishy Heavy Industries, for example, has already received orders to finish 2 new cruise ships valued in almost 900 million Euros, taking the model of Diamond Princess, with capacity for more than 3000 passengers. The CLIA travel agent survey also shows cruising has gained further consumer interest since last year compared to other type of travelling, because of perceived added value.
January 2011 traffic figures are already available and the impression is good! IATA has just published their January traffic results showing an overall increase of a 8.2% in passenger traffic and a 9.1% average growth in air freight, compared to January last year.
IATA results show a remarkable increase in Middle East countries and Latin America, yet volumes are positive in all regions.
IAG (International Airlines Group), with British Airways and Iberia, has also published the group traffic and capacity statistics: their group RPK is 1.4% higher than in February 2010. With this good outlook, the group has decided to invest in some strategic developments: BA has already launched new routes to Tokyo and Iberia with Brazil and Russia.
Most popular international brands work using Business Intelligence daily, basing their decisions on real data at real time. That is why they are so well positioned in the market.
However, recent research indicates that the majority of companies within this industry net worldwide fail in the process of effective data migration from their back office systems.
Obviously this is a sign that their systems are too outdated to implement any kind of Business Intelligence front-end solution. How good the data-extraction, data-transformation or data-loading software may be is something important to consider before an organization decides to implement BI.
BI does not emerge from air! It is no magic but basically a showroom offering just the “BEST INFORMATION”, of course, if well-done, always according to the user point of view.
In companies who are technologically ready, BI-projects are easily started as a cure for many corporate “diseases”. Most BI-related projects initiate changes in both organizational structure and in the company philosophy. Such changes require a much more careful approach.
Further on, statistics show that only 1 out of 100 fashion companies use true Business Intelligence to work daily. Research results also indicate that due to the poor state of the software infrastructure, most companies do not even dare to start using BI. And even worse, they have no idea how to navigate on KPI’s nor how to teach strategic business users to use BI effectively.
If you want to succeed in the Fashion Industry, you should understand using BI is absolutely essential. You must provide a reliable Business Intelligence environment for the company decision makers that ideally complements with the PLM that should already be in place.
Growing globalization, competition and the decreasing overall length of product life-cycles, require a reliable BI-environment showing the key performances, financials, seasonality, trends, etc, flexible enough to adapt to the sudden market changes.
When setting up a BI-project, start always at the beginning: a thorough inventory of existing back office systems in relation to a wished for situation. Once the existing Data WH issues have been solved, you can start designing your BI supportive platform.
Choose a good Project Manager to lead the BI-project and a sample of business users to start with. The PM should take care of defining the project phases until implementation is successful.
And please, remember: covering today’s requirements is simply never enough. Additional questions will be asked tomorrow! So, prepare for the future and remember that real competitive operating companies are always changing course!