When the world’s borders were open to each other, countries and cities across the globe worked hard to maintain and improve their positioning as global and regional Hubs that used to play vital roles in facilitating trade and connecting regions to each other. However, the important question that we need to ask today is: what if those borders stay closed for longer times and what if today’s situation happens again in the near future?
Is it really the right time to establish a second to none local transportation and in-country delivery infrastructure powered by governments? Is it time to consider building a ground network that connects every merchant to every consumer and every public entity to every citizen when plenty of physical transactions will still be there and things are still needed to be sent and received in the era of digital and online services?
Today, I’m not really talking about that infrastructure that includes proper addressing systems or fast connecting highways. today i want to talk more about a totally new infrastructure that consists of strong partnership pillars, forming a solid base for a second to none “Within Borders” delivery and logistics national power that will not only cater efficiently to the highly anticipated growth of e-commerce and online businesses which has already started, but also help to create a strong backup power that can plan for and activate instantly a highly efficient supply chain emergency network – a network that can handle the most unprecedented supply and demand scenarios during crises and turbulent days like today. And, I believe this can be perfectly orchestrated in partnership with the public sector.
The UAE government has always been ten steps ahead of others, and continues to impress us with its rapid adaption to every present situation and it’s early adoption of every futuristic scenario, which allows us to experiment with the brilliance of tomorrow’s life sitting here today.If we look into the recent achievement of the government services’ leap into the era of a 24 Hours digital government service that aims to ensure the safety of the citizens and reduce the impact of the Covid-19 on all sectors, then you will understand why I personally believe that the public sector is a great example to follow and an incredible leading power which the private sector can learn from.
Covid-19 is giving a great lesson on the importance of having a very strong and solid delivery system in every country through an aligned and connected country wide network that is operated by several players who compete in good days but must collaborate in challenging days. It can be blessed by governments through strategic partnerships between the public sector and selected private sector delivery and transportation players who are committed to the vision of the countries that they operate in, while giving them the tools to raise the bar of their day to day service levels in a time where the retail sector is shifting exponentially to an e-tail sector.
Here are some quick statistics to provide more context. According to Dubai CommerCity, e-commerce market is projected to reach Dh95.42 in billion in Middle East, Dh40.37 billion in GCC and Dh16.88 billion in the UAE. Online retailers and e-commerce platforms are experiencing drastic growth as consumers avoid shopping malls in response to COVID-19, according to a new report ‘Life After COVID-19: Retail’ by Dubai Future Foundation (DFF). Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim (MAF), which operates 24 shopping malls, such as the Mall of the Emirates, has seen a surge in online sales, with a 59% year-on-year increase in online customers in March 2020. Based on a report published by Go-gulf.com, some deliveries increased by 600%, and according to French retailer Carrefour, vegetable deliveries increased by 600% year over year during the Lunar New Year period. Chinese online retailer JD.com reported that its online grocery sales grew 215% year over year to 15,000 tons in the space of 10 days, between late January and early February 2020.
Whether it’s a matter of delivering a package on time, supplying a warehouse on time, or picking up an essential item from anywhere on time, those time sensitive services can make or break hundreds of private sector organizations who are paying an arm and a leg for such services and sometimes struggling to get what they pay for. However, when it comes to governments and specifically citizen centric governments like the UAE, I see a critical role being played by governments in motivating, encouraging and also working hand in hand with those committed “country connectors” to improve the overall ground service levels during the good days, reduce the pressure on citizens during crises when delivery bottlenecks kick-in without sparing anyone - be it a consumer in urgent need of a certain product or a merchant desperately trying to replenish.
I have personally evolved into a more responsible public servant during my work with the UAE government couple of years back. I was able to extract, every single day, the right essence from a highly people-centric culture which I was proudly part of. My biggest take away while joining back the private sector was the strict commitment to put the experience of every citizen first, while also knowing how to balance between profitability and contributing to the service improvement vision of the government in the same breath. Because, in the end, every customer is a citizen and every citizen is a customer.
Crises and tough times like the ones we are facing today provide the best lessons to simulate and trigger our innovative DNA and push us to our limits in creating, proactively and collaboratively, the solutions of tomorrow while managing today’s challenges.
I can’t stress enough how important today are these public private partnerships that can bring together different industries and various players from vital sectors. Personally, I see the transportation and logistics industry as among the top sectors that can immediately shake hands firmly with the public sector, taking into consideration the players who are genuinely aiming to make a real difference within the borders of their own countries and towards creating sustainable partnerships that are based on win-win scenarios with the added angle of public benefit.