“COVID-19 has both created new issues and exacerbated almost every one of the pre-existing issues. What it's forced a lot of businesses to do is get back to basics. We're seeing a very big uptick in the volume of business coming through in Q1 of this year, similar to the back half of 2020, and it's taking off at an amazing pace. And the simple driver is visibility. Whether you had a big complex supply chain, or even if you are a modest mover, what you realised over the last year is, ‘Wow, if I don't have visibility, I’m lost’.
“The ocean carriers have a problem. There's no schedule integrity. Sailings are canceled all the time. It's very difficult to get containers. It's oftentimes difficult to get bookings. And even then it's difficult to get an accurate assessment of where your freight is. So COVID-19 has created a huge demand for core visibility. The variability in carriers' performance has increased so much. The service levels that were expected even just a year ago have degraded because of the huge swings in volume, the box shortage, and the off-hiring and then on-hiring of vessels. And then there are additional unexpected increases on top of that, not just during the peak season, but because of the continued acceleration of ecommerce business.
“So the impact and the net net of this is that, on: data matters, now, more than anything. If you don't have the data, you don't have the visibility about where your freight is. It's very difficult, even in the best of times, to predict the performance and the future of when a box will be delivered and when it will be available. We're not perfect. But what we can do is give you the best data that's available on that in the market today, just as we did in the past market, but amid COVID, it’s even more challenging.
“The second thing is about planning. Our customers were always interested in planning. They always wanted to know what is the performance of my carriers on a portfolio basis over time. Now they need to understand that in a much more critical way, because the variability is so enormous.
“At ClearMetal, we’re prepared for this challenging environment. If you're looking at the carrier's performance in Q3 of last year, and that's your dataset, you are completely lost in Q1 of this year. But because our data is continuous, and our tools update continually as we ingest this new data, our customers can find the true performance on any port pair, any carrier, any routing. So a customer can understand, if they need to go from Tuticorin in India to Rotterdam in Amsterdam, is it best to go with carrier A, B or C when considering speed, variability or cost.
“There have been many things that have been exacerbated by COVID, but what it has exposed and emphasised are the core things: visibility, and decision making based on quality data.”
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