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The Human Side of Digitalization in Shipping, Freight, and Logistics

The value of global trade in 2023 is projected to be approximately US$ 31 trillion with a slight increase expected in Q1 of 2024.. The industries of shipping, freight, maritime and logistics have been the backbone of global trade for centuries, silently powering the movement of around 80-85% of global trade across continents and oceans..

The advent of digitalization is reshaping this traditional industry in profound and positive ways.. While much of the conversation around this transformation focuses on efficiency, cost reduction, and scalability, there’s an equally important aspect that often goes underexplored — the human side..

The shift towards digitalization

Digitalization in the shipping, freight, and logistics industry is not just about adopting new technologies.. It is about a fundamental change in how businesses operate, how decisions are made, and how goods are moved around the world..

Whether it is the shift towards electronic trade documentation, blockchain technology that ensures the integrity of transaction records, IoT enabled smart containers or visibility tools, AI-driven predictive analytics aimed at achieving operational efficiencies, the digital wave is sweeping across every facet of our industry..

The impact on workforce skills

One of the most immediate concerns of digitalization is the change it necessitates in workforce skills.. Employees are required to upskill or reskill their digital knowledge which will enable them to enhance their analytical, technological, and strategic planning skills..

While this shift can be a source of anxiety for workers accustomed to traditional ways of working, it also presents an opportunity for growth and development for the workforce..

In a recent interview as part of the #MSCDigitalTalks series, I had the opportunity to discuss the Human Side of Digitalization with the inimitable Andre Simha – CDIO of MSC..

Many organizations in the shipping and logistics sector are increasingly investing in training programs to help their workforce adapt to new technologies.. These programs not only cover technical skills related to the operation of new digital tools but also emphasize critical thinking, problem-solving, and adaptability, skills that are crucial in our rapidly changing industry..

Digital tools are facilitating better work-life balance and job satisfaction.. Remote work, enabled by digital communication tools, is becoming more common, allowing employees more flexibility in their work arrangements..

The role of leadership in managing digital change

Leadership plays a crucial role in navigating the digitalization and digital transformation journey..

Leaders who are not only technologically savvy but also empathetic and understanding of the human impact of the changes they are driving will be more successful in bringing about this digital change..

Leaders need to foster a culture of continuous learning and innovation, where employees feel supported in their development journey and valued for their contributions..

Effective communication is key.. Leaders must articulate a clear vision for the future, explaining how digital transformation aligns with the organization’s goals and values.. They must also listen to their employees’ concerns and feedback, involving them in the transformation process and ensuring that they feel heard and respected..

This will require ongoing investment in employee development, as well as a commitment to fostering a culture that values innovation, collaboration, and diversity.. By doing so, the industry can ensure that it not only survives but thrives in the digital age, powered by a workforce that is skilled, engaged, and ready to meet the challenges of the future..


As we look to the future, it’s clear that the human side of digitalization and digital transformation will continue to be a critical area of focus and as Andre and I discussed in the interview, digitalization in the shipping, freight, and logistics industry is not just about technological adoption, it is about people..

It’s about how these changes impact the daily lives of those who keep our goods moving, the skills they need to thrive in a digitalized world, and the leadership required to navigate these changes with empathy and foresight..

As the industry continues to evolve, the successful integration of technology and humanity will be the hallmark of organizations that lead the way..

By focusing on the human side of digitalization and digital transformation, the shipping, freight, and logistics industry can ensure a future that is not only more efficient and sustainable but also more human-centred with an inclusive and satisfied workforce..

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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiarhttps://www.shippingandfreightresource.com
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


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