2020 has widely been regarded as a year of disruption for the transport industry. While the sector earlier saw tremendous growth in terms of the volume of global trade, the pandemic severely affected logistics processes, with demand skewed in favor of essential goods and that for other goods showing slow, but steady, recovery only in the second half of the year.
In addition, while travel, tourism, and day-to-day transportation had earlier been witness to revolutionization in the form of connected technologies and automation, the popularity of travel was dealt a strong blow, with people preferring local destinations and safer, more private means of travel such as cars, chartered vehicles, and pod travel, in the short term.
However, this step back for the industry has also shed light on practices that require radical transformation to be feasible in the long term. In addition, this disruption has only accelerated the move towards what was meant to eventually become the norm: digitalization. The adoption of digitalization and AI-enabled processes has seen leaps as businesses are now looking for ways to streamline processes, make informed decisions, and ensure greater connectivity and monitoring for daily operations.
Although 2021 began with uncertainty regarding the future of the industry, certain trends are likely to become sustained ways of operating, both in the immediate future and in the long term, signaling the growing importance of data and AI & ML processes going forward:
1) As the focus of the logistics industry shifts towards increased connectedness and real-time tracking, AIOT will bolster greater end-to-end visibility and communication with stakeholders while simultaneously enabling businesses to gain actionable insight from day-to-day processes, including warehouse activity, route optimization, and deliveries, through the vast amounts of data generated by vehicles on a daily basis.
2) With hyper-local delivery, the expectations of reduced turnaround times, and the logistics problems associated with increased congestions and pollution in urban locations gaining more importance, EVs and automated technologies, such as drones, are likely to play an important role in improving personalization and convenience as well as expanding markets and niche customer bases.
3) As the travel industry returns to normalcy amidst an increased slew of safety protocols, business executives can obtain several data-driven takeaways regarding maintaining flexibility, improving customer service, and implementing best safety practices in the long term.
4) With mobility as a service (MaaS) and shared mobility poised to become the future of public transportation, private and public players alike will benefit from leveraging data to monitor granular movements, preferences, and build transport infrastructure that integrates multiple services under a single roof.
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