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Monday 30 December 2013

Offshore outsourcing can and should be a source of innovation.

I think some people have an ill-informed view of what offshore outsourcing can do to help any business and perhaps are jaded by a poorly executed call centre experience. 

The days of only outsourcing the menial tasks are gone. The fact is that increasingly high end activities are being successfully offshored. Apart from helping you stay globally competitive it can be source of fresh thinking to gain an edge.

Offshoring R&D and innovation can have some amazing upside and some big companies such as Apple and Procter and Gamble are embracing it. Not only is it more cost effective but frequently there is greater opportunity to create and innovate from outside your company than from within it. The people on the outside are not necessarily bound by the thinking of long held ideas and dogmas of products, services, clients and markets. Furthermore different education systems and cultures create different approaches to problem solving which can lead to some major breakthroughs. The perspectives from offshore are very different and therein lies the ability to differentiate yourself from competitors.

From an internal management perspective any offshore team must be respected and treated 100% as equals to the team you have at home. They must have the same latitude to create, experiment, fail and develop ideas in a collaborative manner with the rest of the team no matter where they may be in the world. This little thing called the "Internet" makes this entirely possible.

The other aspect is that a failure of a concept developed offshore will cost you way less than the cost of a similar failure at home meaning you can afford to experiment and fail more and therefore learn more than your competitors can too!

At Depth Offshore we have some clients executing this aspect of their strategy well with a hybrid approach of team members both offshore and at home focusing and collaborating on new ideas. Currently most still keep their head of R&D at home and support this person with great people offshore but I can really see this changing as companies take a more global view of how they need to compete. For most industries you simply MUST MUST be thinking globally or pretty soon you will not be in the race.

I firmly believe that being open to external innovation is one of the keys to building a high performance business in this ever more competitive "us too" global economy.

Innovate, differentiate, get noticed or die!

All the best for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2014 and thanks for following, sharing and commenting on my blog.

+Brad Skelton 

Thursday 19 December 2013

Investment is flowing back into shipping with confidence reaching a 3 year high.

A November survey of ship owners has found their market confidence is the highest it has been since August 2010. Most owners are again optimistic and forecasting improving markets. The World Trade Organisation predicts growth in shipping volumes of 4.5% in 2014. The Baltic Index has pushed past 2000 for the first time since 2011 after bottoming in December 2008 at 663 points. All good news and these factors combined have most industry players feeling like we are in the early stages of a global shipping recovery.

Despite this positive sentiment many European banks are currently selling their shipping loan books to investment funds as the banks see them as problem areas of their portfolio. Admittedly some sectors of the shipping industry remain under extraordinary pressure and some loans are not performing.

Consequently private equity funds are buying loan books at discounts between 15 and 20% off their nominal value and are punting that recovery is finally underway and they can ride the market up and enjoy good returns.

Banks that have sold loan books to strengthen their own balance sheets include; Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group, Commerzbank and HSH. US based private equity firms are the main buyers.

So what does this mean for shipping?

As confidence and demand returns ship values will rise again and so will freight rates. There are already reports that bulk carriers currently being built have changed hands at up to 25% gains.

On the other hand, if a recovery falters, then ship owners will have a different type of creditor to deal with in an investment fund rather than a bank. Fund managers are typically far less patient to get their returns than the banks have been if payments fall into arrears.

I think the bottom line is that improved confidence and financial returns in shipping is bringing investment back for the first time in about 5 years. That is a really positive thing for everyone in the industry and I think this investment trend is gaining momentum.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Monday 2 December 2013

Drone delivery of your goods in less than 30 minutes via Amazon Prime Air

Here is another really cool example of how technology will continue to radically change business and our economy.

Amazon are working on delivery of their customers orders within 30 minutes via drone octocopters right from their warehouse to your door.

Check out this 1.19min YouTube clip demonstrating the concept.

This delivery method, assuming it gets aviation authority approval, will impact the road courier logistics industry massively. This will become the superior delivery method without doubt. Cheaper, faster, no driver, no traffic..no traffic jams....and more environmentally friendly too. If Depth Logistics were in the parcel courier field of logistics then I would scrambling to get my own fleet of octocopters ready to serve my clients before my client start buying their own. Maybe we should.....??

Think about the other potential applications of this delivery method to numerous industries. What about pizza delivery? Then again, would the downdraft from the rotors mean cold pizza on arrival? I'm kidding but the possibilities are incredible and exciting for any lightweight parcel needing delivery across town that is time sensitive. The medical and pharmaceutical industry is one.

I congratulate Amazon for the vision they have for their customers and the logistics service they hope to provide. This will be a definite game changer for another sector of the logistics industry.

All for now,

Thursday 28 November 2013

The fastest ship in the world

The fastest ship in the world is the "Francisco" which is a 99 metre long vehicle and passenger ferry built by Incat in Hobart, Australia. She is capable of speeds of up to 58.1 knots or 107.6 km per hour with 150 cars and 1000 passengers on board.

The technology in the "Francisco" is amazing. She is a wave piercing catamaran and is powered by two GE gas turbines with modified Boeing 747 jet engines. The two engines combined produce 59,000 horsepower!

The primary fuel is LNG and Incat claim it to be the fastest, environmentally cleanest and most efficient high speed ferry in the world. The vessel will be operating between Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Below is a short YouTube clip about the ship.

The technological advances in the maritime industry producing vessels with capabilities like the "Francisco" are game changers for the industry. Much like what the Concorde did for world air travel when they were first launched although fuel economy and environmental impact were not really a big consideration back then.
All for now,

Thursday 14 November 2013

Depth Logistics is a finalist for Freight Forwarder of the Year in the Australian Shipping and Maritime Awards

I am very proud to advise with less than a year of operations +Depth Logistics is receiving recognition from it's industry peers.

We have been told this week that the company is a finalist in not one, but two categories of the 2013 Australian Shipping and Maritime Awards!

Depth Logistics stands to win the "Freight Forwarder of the Year" category and +Jenny Ruffell Smith of our team is in the running to win the "New Generation" award.

The awards ceremony is Thursday the 21st of November in Melbourne and I'll make some Google+ posts to keep you updated as the night unfolds.

Thanks to our great team and everyone else who has supported the company and enabled us to create some innovative new shipping services, powerful logistics and technological resources that makes shipping easier for our clients.

Depth Logistics - The Art of Logistics Management and Technology

Please wish us luck!

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Wednesday 13 November 2013

So why do we still need phone numbers?

All of my companies and I use Google Apps for Business as our communications platform. It gives us the full suite of Email, Instant Messenger, Hangouts(video conferencing) and Drive(cloud storage) and Google+ for social networking. It is cheaper than any other platform I am aware of to run and in our experience hangouts have proven to be far more reliable and easier to use than Skype and we can have up to ten of our team members around the world in a single Hangout simultaneously. The connectivity to our Android phones is seamless too.

Whether you personally prefer Google, Apple, Microsoft or others, the one thing that has become a common denominator among them all is that you set up an account that creates a unique personal ID or profile and gives you access to the online resources. The advantage Google+ has is that from this single platform you can initiate hangouts, IM and emails as well as access to numerous other Google based applications such as YouTube.

I believe applications like Hangouts and Apple's FaceTime are gradually taking over from phone calls. After all they are more personal if you choose to video conference than a phone call and cheaper too. They also go beyond international borders for no extra cost per minute. Not to mention you can share photos and other files which you can't do in a phone call. 

Instead of having a phone number and using the phone system to speak to someone you can use the internet and mobile data connections to do the same. So why do we need a personal phone number anymore when you have your profile or account ID that allows people to find you and then connect more easily than ever?

If you are not familiar with Hangouts, check this 1.23 minute YouTube clip out to see what I mean.

Retailers are suffering because in many categories of goods buying online now provides the superior consumer experience. Communications are the same. With modern smartphones enabling Hangouts, FaceTime and the like so cheaply and internationally, phone calls and texts no longer provide the superior communications experience. Increasingly mobile phone plans will be about the data plan you have and not the voice or text.

As for email...well if you really want feel old....the younger generation sees this as "old school"! Their main communication is done via their preferred social network.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton 

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Super Typhoon Haiyan

Last Friday at 4.30am local time Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines. There are unconfirmed reports of up to 10,000 people dead and millions now homeless and currently without food and water. UNICEF estimate 4 million children are seriously impacted right now. 

A "super typhoon" is defined a by it's wind speeds. A typhoon with wind speeds over 241km per hour that are sustained for longer than a 1 minute in duration is classified as "super". Can you imagine the affect of sustained winds at this speed? Devastating!

Typhoon Haiyan from space
Haiyan hit the south of the Philippines hardest. Depth Offshore has it's team located in the north so I am relieved to report that everyone is okay there. Some of our team members have been unable to contact family and friends in the south since last Thursday as communications infrastructure has been wiped out.

The people in the Philippines need help to overcome this massive natural disaster.

There are numerous aid agencies with appeals running. Our team and associates outside the Philippines are going to support UNICEF and I urge anybody reading this blog post to do the same or make a donation to another reputable aid agency.

Please make a donation and share the link or this blog to friends and family. Thank you!

All for now,