This is all the more true considering the rise of the platform economy, which began in the 1990s with e-commerce marketplaces such as Amazon and Ebay. Today, platforms are no longer only active in the B2C sector, but also in the B2Bsector. By means of the Connect 4.0 family, for example, DB Schenker’s customers now have access to standardized platforms throughout Europe for the simple and fast booking of smaller shipments from all central transport areas. DB Schenker business customers can use Connect 4.0 to obtain various service offers for their freight shipments within seconds and display the estimated delivery time. Shipment histories can be exactly tracked and individual shipment reports can be created and sent at any time. Just now, DB Schenker has also revised its Drive4Schenker digital platform, launched in 2017, to enable a more straightforward and proactive exchange with transport service providers in Europe. With new options to receive offers, this innovation improves the interaction with carriers.

No doubt: more and more thrilling, new digital business models arise because of the platform economy and the digitization of logistics. Open source software can and will also make a significant contribution to driving the platform economy forward in Germany and Europe, as it is currently being developed in the »Silicon Economy« initiative with a holistic approach and on a large scale. As a joint project between science and industry, »Silicon Economy« is a typical example for open innovation. Such overarching, interdisciplinary form of collaboration has already proved successful for DB Schenker in the Enterprise Lab for Logistics and Digitization, which has existed with Fraunhofer IML and Fraunhofer ISST since 2015.

Open source strategy with five levels

For many companies, using open source software as part of their own software solutions to accelerate the development is typically their first experience with open source, as the implementation has low barriers to entry and risks. This was also the case at DB Schenker. The group’s open source strategy is based on totally five levels of the required experience, knowledge and maturity in dealing with the open source topic. It is DB Schenker’s ambition to define standards and guidelines for the development of open source software, maintenance and operation, and as a result to establish an open source community. Within the companies and with partners new open source products are to be developed that will also make a contribution to the platform economy. One example is the cooperation with the Magento e-commerce platform. Magento customers can leverage the worldwide DB Schenker network of warehouses and get efficient order processing. As strategic partner, Magento will provide traders with a flexible shopping basket system based on open source technology.

Treat open source like own source code

There are still quite different ways of thinking about the use of open source, ranging from the not-invented-here syndrome and “poor quality” to the use everywhere and for everything since it is available at no cost and with little effort. In fact, using open source software requires that you treat it like your own source code and that the same quality and security standards apply. Such projects vary widely in their implementation quality, complexity, community support and many other aspects, and not every project is intended for reuse. Often the intention is not to share code but simply to use the free code and project management platforms.

In this context, the open source development in the der »Silicon Economy« is of particular importance: here, developments are directly linked to applications. There is no development for the development’s sake, no technical gimmicks, only solutions that pay off on a big goal: to provide logistics as a whole with an infrastructure for tomorrow‘s platform economy and to enable platforms to coexist and work together. Every company can benefit from this.