A leader in digital transformation and innovation, Ibrahim Al Najjar heads the Information Technology department of DP World, which pioneers business enablement and enrichment through technology and implements the latest disruptive innovations. One of the key speakers at Velocity-Data and Analytics Summit, Al Najjar, shares his insights on the benefits of data analytics, how digital technology enables rapid change in the logistics and shipping industry and the challenges of modernising legacy systems.
The pandemic forced organisations to relook at their IT operations. Share key challenges you faced.
Ensuring a smooth transition from onsite to remote work to deliver a consistent customer experience was a challenge. To ensure the continuation of the supply chain, especially medical supplies and equipment, food and other essentials, was challenging, too. But the pandemic offered a unique opportunity to accelerate digital adoption and process reengineering.
There have been significant data security breaches across various organisations; what lessons can be learnt? And how prepared are businesses now?
All data breaches are wake-up calls that emphasise that cyber security is a continuous improvement journey, and that there is never a finish line. The past incidents teach that security is the responsibility of the entire organisation, and everyone needs to play a role. In our business, we are actively engaged with the stakeholders internally and externally to raise their security awareness and adopt secure practices and tools.
Are organisations investing enough in data and analytics? What is the innovation you are looking forward to?
The potential reward for investing in data analytics is immense. Data is the new oil, and so organisations can expand their investments in data analytics to unlock more opportunities and benefits. When it comes to innovative data analytics, it would be interesting to see how prescriptive analysis, where data is analysed not only from a historical statistical context, but also from the context of desired outcomes, will play a major role in decision making and organisational growth.
Tell us about BoxBay and how it works to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
BoxBay is an innovative solution that would significantly improve the efficiency of terminal operations and the effectiveness of the services offered to the customer. This new engineering marvel will unlock a huge bandwidth in handling of containers by enabling the operator to stack containers in piles (vertically) but independently from one another. It will allow the retrieval of these containers quickly regardless of their location in the vertical tier. Thus, achieving direct access to these containers in an efficient way, and reducing unproductive container shuffles and spare resources, primary energy consumption.
How has the logistics and shipping industry evolved in the last five years? How do you see it taking shape in the near future?
The logistics and shipping industry is operating in a physical world. Moving cargo across wide geographical areas is a physical and mechanical challenge. However, rapid evolution in the industry enabled digital technologies to reshape the dynamics of these industries.
In DP World, a paradigm shift has moved us from being responsible for only handling containers (physical cargo) to an entity that is enabling smarter trade all around the world with the emergence of platform economies, digital transformation, and seamless trade transactions. Thus, contributing to and enabling the growth and prosperity of markets, societies and nations.
What are the challenges of migrating a legacy system, and what advice would you give others at the early stages of digital transformation?
The challenge is to overcome the inertia of legacy systems and to let go of “The current” in pursuit of “The next”. It is a dilemma that many entities within the supply chain face. Supply chain entities are all playing interdependent roles in a trade transaction and for any transformative change to be effective, a huge effort will need to be orchestrated. Driving such change is very challenging.
Collaboration and partnership are important to start transformation journeys. The unique position of DP World is that we are a major player in different supply chain entities, like economic zones, logistics, ports handling, shipping, eCommerce and so on. So, we are continuously working internally and with our partners to transform trade journeys and elevate our customers’ experience.