Transformational Logistics is an umbrella term for logistics and supply chain thinking and practice in Emerging and Developing markets.

Globalisation has not produced homogenous markets and uniform supply chains across all geographies and industrial sectors; and, developed world logistics and supply chain solutions do not respond to all market conditions. One size does not fit all and Transformational Logistics acts as a catalyst for markets with widely differing contexts:

  • Emerging: the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and, the Second Eleven (Mexico, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia …)
  • Developing: those with a high degree of social and economic hardship; lacking the robustness to compete alone such as a host of African; South American or Asian economies.
  • Devastated: those wrecked by geological or metrological phenomena and requiring Humanitarian Aid and International support like Haiti, Niger, Pakistan, Chile.
  • Dislocated: those experiencing or recovering from warfare such as Iraq or Afghanistan.
  • Transitional: those moving from Centrally Planned to open markets like Russia, Eastern Europe and, the Baltics in the 1990s.

These economies are characterised by:

  • High levels of informal economic activity, employment and housing.
  • Hybrid and asymmetrical supply chains linking traditional, low-tech and highly fragmented suppliers with demand from modern, high tech and consolidated Corporations either in the domestic or, global markets.
  • Significant regional, urban and rural differences.
  • Variable levels of hard and soft infrastructure connectivity.
  • Inconsistent and insufficient levels of sanitation, energy and market access.
  • Extremes of affluence and poverty; literacy and numeracy and, cultural norms on gender and social mobility.

Logistics in these markets has to improve market access on a local; regional; national and global level commensurate with available as well as potential resources, skills and support. There is no one best way and, there are many options and alternatives. Transformational Logistics can improve the bandwidth of mainstream logistics and supply chain thinking and practice.

These days, supply chains compete not companies and they do so globally drawing from all types of local sources and environments. Logistics and Supply Chain thinking and practice has to accommodate small local enterprise as well as transnational corporate players; informal as well as formal actors and low-tech as well as high-tech solutions. It can help in disasters but needs to play a bigger role in rehabilitation and, sustainable growth. And, logistics is crucial to economies dislocated by war and, in transition from Central Planning to an open market. Here’s why.

Emerging and Developing markets are characterised by distinct urban and rural realities; poor infrastructure and materials handling equipment and, high levels of informal business and employment relationships. National markets feature significant regional variation in climate, demographics and, relative prosperity. For example, of the BRIC economies – Brazil features the urban bustle and favelhas of coastal cities and, the Amazon rainforest itself; Russia is spread over 11 time zones with most cities located in colder climates; India has huge regional variation and, China is significantly more developed on the coast than the interior. Many contend with scarce or inconsistent energy and water resources and, shortages of skilled labour and experienced management challenge productivity, performance, competitive advantage and investment. India has to train 500 million skilled workers by 2022 and all developing countries have to develop a local skills capacity to realise potential. All too often poor governance and weak or inconsistent regulatory frameworks in these markets make sustainable growth an elusive quest.

Despite these challenges, Emerging and Developing markets offer high growth potential for all sorts of products and services currently experiencing stagnant or low growth potential in mature economies. There are exciting opportunities to access markets at different price points; often with huge volume potential and, exposure to these environments can and does stimulate innovation in business purpose, process and, people development. And, there is increasing shareholder and stakeholder activism pushing companies from the developed world to access these emerging and developing market opportunities or, lose support and market share. When we consider that 51 of the top one hundred economies in the world are Corporations – shareholder activism in particular is a major force to be reckoned with. And when, we consider the needs at the Bottom of the Pyramid there is another very real source of activism that could turn opportunity into disaster.

Mainstream logistics and supply chain thinking has to adapt to these challenging conditions and deliver social and environmental as well as economic benefits. This means hybrid techniques using resources and assets responsive to local context and needs.

Transformational Logistics builds on mainstream logistics to offer:

  1. A framework for research into logistics and supply chain thinking and practice relevant to Emerging and Developing markets.
  2. A forum to build better understanding and common purpose between the formal and the informal elements of the economy as a whole.
  3. A means to embed a viable, inclusive and sustainable market as an economy responds to a natural disaster, the devastation of warfare or, political and economic dislocation.

And Transformational Logistics can be:

  • An enabler to grow logistics skills standards, capacity and delivery.
  • A facilitator to promote and share adaptable, affordable and accessible practice in all end-to-end flows (physical; information, cash and skills) relevant to effective and efficient operations in these markets.
  • A catalyst for mature markets and established companies to access new markets and learn from them.

Global population is growing from 6 to 9 billion; resources are increasingly scarce and, the recent three F’s crisis (Food; Fuel and Finance) questioned global business assumptions triggering a Recession and, the G 7 opened up to the G 20.

Transformational Logistics is not an alternative to current Logistics and Supply Chain thinking and practice. It aspires to be a valued member of a broader Logistics community alongside other initiatives such as the Green Supply Chain and, disciplines such as Humanitarian Logistics. As Paul Collier responded when it was said after the Haiti earthquake that the challenge “was to get the country back on its feet”; Haiti and many other economies have never been “on their feet in the first place”. Transformational Logistics could be the catalyst to take Humanitarian rehabilitation into a sustainable future. Taking the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index as a base line, Transformational Logistics occupies the middle ground between high performers such as Singapore and, low ranking countries dislocated by all manner of disasters or characterised by low level or non-existent connectivity.

It is time to transform the world of logistics to keep pace with emergent realities and, to deliver inclusive and sustainable growth through adaptable, affordable and accessible solutions. Markets are only free and open when they respect livelihoods as well as lifestyles and an ethical dimension to business between suppliers, buyers and consumers can deliver sustainable growth. This is the brands new world and, Transformational Logistics can help widen the scope and, future proof the discipline in all markets.

This Transformational Logistics Blog is a forum to champion and progress this agenda.

10 Responses to “Transformational Logistics explained”

  1. saska Says:

    Breaks new ground. Excellent stuff …

  2. German Banchio - Argentina Says:

    Realmente creo que el concepto tiene amplia validez en Sudamérica, donde estaré encantado en difundir el concepto y ponerme a trabajar para que pronto podamos lograr integrar las cadenas formal e informal de manera creativa.

  3. Aaron Ayisi Says:

    This is really an antidote to bridging the gab between the rich and the poor.
    Transformational Logistics is a must for developing countries especially in the wake of GLOBALIZATION.

  4. It is so exceptional to find this very solid and valid concept on a different way of logistics.
    It is Ulpiano Libreros, Dipl. Eng., independent investigator and advisor of enterprises and institutions in several countries and fully involved in logistics since 30 years ago and I am very excited to find a new way to understand the logistics as real as is in the most simple level.
    Itwould be you so kind to let me have all the presentations and information and biblyografy as you must have to “swim as deep as possible” into this sea of aknowledgement ?

    Congratulations for this exposition understandable only from your wisdom and experience.

    If you ned any kind of assistance from this worldside please Do not hesitate to let me know It.

    Warmest regards,
    Ulpiano LIbreros
    Bogota – Colombia

  5. Benjamín L. Says:

    Sr. Libreros mi nombre es Benjamín, soy de Cádiz (España), me gustaría contactar con ud.
    Agradecería que lo hiciera.
    Reciba un cordial saludo. Gracias

  6. Hello!

    Thank you very much for your very useful and informative blog.

    Our company is one of the leading logistics operators in Russia, especially in the field of customs brokerage and bonded warehousing; so, if you ever need a firsthand info on logistics in Russia (inclusing CIS) for your blog, we’ll be glad to help.

  7. Zhong Guo Wuliu Says:

    This is a much better introductory piece, thanks a lot! The bullet points highlight the characteristics very well.

  8. Jane Lewis Says:

    Just listened to a BBC World Service piece by Edward Sturton on the Humanitarian Aid Industry. Superb insight into the zoo of NGOs that hit each disaster and, the fact that they are not delivering. In particular, it puts me in mind of what you have written about several disasters – what happens next. The fact is that the free markets and the invisible hand is no guarantee of success in such complex and dislocated environments. Above all, the need to deliver a coherent strategy post emergency needs to focus on local capacity to survive and, deal with the next one. Sturton contrasts Chile and Haiti. Chile was hit by a far worse earthquakemeasuring 8.8 on the R scale versus Haiti’s 7. Chile was ready and has invested in preparedness. Meanwhile, the 10,000 or so NGOs that have been to Haiti print their T shirts as the local Government laments that it has no idea what they do.

    Surely, your arguments re TL as a catalyst for the third phase of Humanitarian Logistics (prepare / respond / rehabilitate) are worth a closer look and, maybe a few Humanitarian dollars on the research to make this happen would be money well spent.

    This Blog challenges and suggests where others rant.

  9. Chris Fox Says:

    You have got to pursue this thinking it resonates well with ‘Ghandian Innovation’ observed in developing businesses across India (where you spend quite a bit of time) – three radically innovative methds have been noted (see below) that ALL have AFFORDABILITY and SUSTAINABILITY at their heart.
    The three methods documented are:
    1. Disruptive business models – E.G. Infosys or Bharti Airtel
    2. Modifying organisational capabilities – synthesizing ‘standard’ technologies to provide speedy deployment of resources on a large scale E.G.. Emergency Care Management, EMRI
    3. Creating or sourcing capabilities – creating new capabilities to solve problems E.G. Lupin

    For more info see HBR July-August ‘The Effective Organisation’, turn great strategy into great results – Article ‘Innovation’s Holy Grail by C. K. Prhalad and R.A. Mashelkar

  10. Hatty James Says:

    Conveyors may not be a very sexy subject, but in today’s mad world, we’d be lost without them. The logistics of the modern world and business place simply demands that things can be transported around business buildings with ease, where possible automation taking over what goes where. I have been speaking to Rusmail in the UK and I can tell you that they know their subject inside out so, if you have a problem, can I suggest that you call them?

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