Ports, a business model in transition

In previous blog posts, we have talked about how technological disruption is changing port logistics, moving from stevedoring, to semi-automated processes assisted by cranes and forklifts, to fully automated processes. In this transition, how will the business models of the ports evolve?

In the near future, when automated warehouses will be the minimum required to operate in the logistics sector, how will operators in the sector differentiate themselves? Will new players emerge to compete with traditional companies?


In this scenario where all the processes of a logistics company’s activity are automated, differentiation will come from the ability to collect, analyse and extract value from all the data captured that influences, in one way or another, the value chain. The emergence of agents who know how to structure and squeeze information can change the picture of the agents operating the activity, as happened in music distribution, or as is happening in the banking sector.

This intelligent use of data will allow them to continue to provide differential value both to their customers and to other agents in their value chain, being able to recommend improvements in their processes, or even intervene in them as mediators in the balance between producers and consumers. On the other hand, they can provide valuable information to third parties involved in the processes, such as manufacturers of handling equipment, road and rail maintenance companies, etc. In this way, they will adapt their planning and strategies to the real needs identified at first hand.


The value they are able to extract from that data, and the new business models they build from it, will be crucial to differentiate themselves from their peers. But it will not be the only thing that will impact their business. Global trends will affect that sector and that may be where the biggest changes will come from.

Renting is emerging more and more strongly among the younger generation. Driven by trends such as environmental sustainability, detachment from ownership, shared consumption and of course the technological capacity that gives rise to these models for sharing and renting cars, houses or scooters.

What is certain is that the changes are already here. First we will go through the transition from semi-automated to automated processes but once we are there, the unknown of what the future holds increases. Business models will have to be reinvented and the sooner we prepare the ground, the sooner we will build.

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