Page 8 - Case Study Annual 2018
P. 8

Thought Leadership

                  Supply chain and logistics

             innovation – new or refi ned?

                                                                          By Doug Hunter,

               We learn and share from case studies, so let’s look, rethink and learn from one of the earliest in
                                                  trade logistics – the VOC.

            CASE STUDIES reflect innovation from               able to manage their tax contribution to a far
            leading companies, inspiring followers             lower percentage than the innovative testers
            to continuous improvement. Often these             of new thinking, drivers of competition and
            innovations are discovered and tested by           new technology. The result they seek is
            small companies first. Why? Because they           higher returns, which they distribute to a
            have to fight for their market share and be        fraction of the population – shareholders.
            competitive in markets dominated by large          Great, if you’re a shareholder, but not good
            corporations or restrictive government             for the rest if these earnings are not used
            regulation – often lobbied by the same large       to fund further innovation, but rather a
            corporations to help them maintain their           Lamborghini or two. Is this the best wealth
            dominance. The lean and mean guys also take        redistribution for a growing world? You
            bigger risks, including having to risk their own   decide.
            money and not that of shareholders, having to         A case study that has always fascinated
            prove themselves before the formal funding         me is the original logistics ‘small guy that
            community invests.                                 seeded the first global logistics giant – the
                                                               Netherlands and VOC (Dutch East India
                                                               Company). They emerged from Spanish
                                                               rule in 1590. A nation of traders and sea
                                                               explorers. Initially, they sought new land for
                                                               their funders, extending their power and
                                                               discovering new trade routes with valuable
                                                               new products, but they saw trade rather than
                                                               annexed land as power.
                                                                  Kevin O’Marah, formerly of Advanced
                                                               Manufacturing Research, now at Gartner and
                                                               a visitor to South Africa, shares this respect
                                                               for the VOC. Writing in Forbes Magazine
                                                               and quoting a book titled The Silk Roads,
                                                               he extols how the Netherlands founded its
                                                               emerging economy on global trade. It was
                                                               through engineering and sailing purpose-
                                                               built assets, sleek sailing, flat-bottomed
                                                               ships designed to carry more cargo than
                                                               competing nations’ vessels and which
               One must ask the question: Are large            required fewer crew.
            corporations becoming less useful to broader          Also, funding, not by one or two wealthy
            society? I believe that whilst they employ the     tycoons, but through cooperation and risk
            most people, creating lives that are arguably      pooling to get as broad a base of investors as
            better than before, there is an element of bad     possible – this venture capital or rather crowd
            for all. We know that some use their power         funding of the day formed the most powerful
            to stifle rather than boost competition. They      and successful trading enterprise – the
            influence laws that favour their trade position,   Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC).
            perhaps not always successfully, and they are      With such financial strength, they formed the

        6                                                                The Logistics News Case Study Annual 2018
   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13