Logistics is experiencing a turn of an era that could not be more fundamental. Digitization of everything and the artificial intelligence in everything will change everything for everyone. The platform economy – in logistics and beyond – is also facing such a turn of an era. After the B2C sector, more and more multinational logistics companies are now beginning to build powerful digital platforms in the B2B sector. The race for the platform is on and companies are realizing that they have to face the new challenge together. No logistics company has enough motivation, market power or resources to implement the “Big Picture” of a Silicon Economy on its own.
An alternative draft to monopolistic platforms
The Silicon Economy puts the concept of the platform economy on new foundations. It sees itself as alternative draft to monopolistic platforms that provoke isolated solutions and dependencies.
- An open source infrastructure and freely available technical components – as a result a “Linux for logistics” – should lead to a diversity and coexistence of various logistical and industrial platforms. This procedure enables companies of whatever size in Germany and Europe to develop new data-based and data-driven business models.
- The focus is on a secure data room in which companies can exchange and use data in a self-determined manner. It forms the core of a federal structure of the data economy.
- The infrastructure, the technical components and the data space, driven by artificial intelligence and other new technologies such as 5G, enable the complete autonomous connection of material, information and financial flow in the end.
The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure recognized the importance of this concept early on and is promoting the establishment of the digital infrastructure and the development of the technical components with the “Silicon Economy Logistics Ecosystem” research project. Here, the basis for the Silicon Economy is formed. “Blockchain Europe” is inseparably linked to this, which will provide further components for the platform economy of a new generation. The future aim is that companies can select technical components, like from a library (repository), and set up their own platforms and business models based on common standards and a joint data space.
Strengthening logistics, positive traffic effects
The digitalization of sustainable logistics systems does not only offer advantages for the individual company and therefore strengthens the logistics industry as a whole, but also generates important positive transport effects. That mainly includes the better use of transport capacities, better linking of the transport modes, optimization of traffic flows and reduction of emissions.
Silicon Economy community: fellow campaigners wanted
For years, the world bank’s Logistics Performance Index has ranked Germany as “logistics world champion”. Countries from Europe form the majority in the top 10. Yet, logistics is not immune to the fact that American and Chinese companies will outstrip them. The race for the best business models in the platform economy will only be won by those companies that are willing to open up and take part in neutral platforms.
With Silicon Economy Logistics Ecosystem and Blockchain Europe innovation projects the starting signal was given. Now, speed is everything. Therefore, there is still the constant need to invest massively in the development of adequate platforms and algorithms.
For that purpose, Fraunhofer IML relies on an open source community of “Silicon Economists” – companies that want to contribute to fact that the Silicon Economy becomes reality in Germany and Europe. Fellow campaigners are very welcome.