[UAE, October 29, 2013] Barloworld Logistics Middle East is releasing the findings of the 2013 GCC supplychainforesight survey this week, which provides a snapshot of the current perceptions of the status of supply chain and logistics in the GCC region. The survey was launched at the Ritz Carlton, Gate Village, Dubai International Financial Centre today (October 29, 2013).
Respondents to the survey tell a story of an exciting, evolving and dynamic region with many opportunities and challenges in dealing with rapid change. “The focus on expansion and diversification is evident throughout,” says Barloworld Logistics Middle East managing director John Wylie.
The survey is based on independent market intelligence conducted on behalf of Barloworld Logistics by international business consultancy firm Dun & Bradstreet. Three hundred and sixty-five top executives across a wide range of industries from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were surveyed to gain their views and feedback on current and future trends in supply chain management in their countries.
The first part of the survey provides a macroeconomic view of how the GCC countries currently fare in comparison to their international counterparts. This is followed by the results and findings of the research, and the third section analyses the key findings and observations of what these mean for supply chain management in the GCC going forward.
The survey shows that the UAE ranked significantly ahead of other GCC countries on all the parameters in the World Bank's 2012 Global Logistics Performance Index. The UAE also ranked ahead of countries such as Norway, Australia, Ireland, Taiwan and Korea and ahead of larger emerging markets like China and India.
Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia ranked the highest among the GCC countries in the World Economic Forum's 2013-2014 Global Competitive Index in terms of basic requirements such as efficiency enhancers, innovation and sophistication.
As is the case globally, with the fast pace of change companies in the GCC region are facing the challenges of unpredictable order volumes, constant pressure to reduce costs, exposure to higher levels of risk, and finding and retaining skilled people. “These concerns are reflected in the findings of the 2013 GCC supplychainforesight survey,” says Wylie.
Respondents are looking to increase revenues by growing in existing markets and expanding into new regional and international territories, with the wider Middle East and African countries being top priority, and by introducing new products and services to these markets. They say, constraints to achieving these goals include frequently changing shipping rates of service providers, constant changes in government rules and regulations, inconsistent cross-border trade rules within the region, and congestion at ports.
At the same time GCC governments are making large investments in infrastructure developments such as ports and railways to improve efficiency and connectivity. Respondents also rank increased competition from regional and international companies and the unavailability of skilled resources as top constraints to achieving business objectives.
Key supply chain objectives include improving customer service, minimizing costs reducing complexity, increasing efficiency and performance, and upgrading and integrating fragmented IT systems. Almost half of the survey respondents have an evolving understanding of supply chain management and the majorities are developing a clear supply chain strategy.
Twenty nine percent of respondents believe they have an advanced understanding of supply chain management and use the latest IT systems to integrate logistics functions. “These are large businesses, including export oriented multinationals that integrate with their principals in other markets,” says Wylie.
At the other end of the scale, 23% of respondents have a basic understanding of the supply chain, indicating that they view it as individual logistics functions rather than the holistic processes of the flow of goods from source to consumption.
The survey shows that 58% of companies across the GCC countries outsource part of their supply chain activities to third party service providers. “Successful businesses acknowledge that other companies exist that are better equipped to perform certain functions or serve specific market needs,” says Wylie.
Overall, respondents rated the quality of infrastructure in the GCC countries as above average, expressing most satisfaction with the road and air infrastructure. They expressed the lowest satisfaction with existing port infrastructure, although as outlined in the report this is being addressed through large investment and development of ports.
A GCC wide railway network and standardized customs procedures are the most desired infrastructure developments in the short term, with progress in this regard already underway. “This will provide a further dimension to the GCC countries' existing logistics capabilities.” says Wylie.