The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies and services, which have kept international trade flowing even as the movement of people has been restricted. From IoT to digital payments, technologies are rapidly changing the trade ecosystem, yet few have studied the opportunities and challenges that come with these changes. Today, the World Economic Forum announces a first-of-its-kind report on how digital technologies and innovations can enable global trade to be more efficient, inclusive and equitable.
Mapping TradeTech: Trade in the Fourth Industrial Revolution was developed in cooperation with more than 50 global industry experts, policy-makers, academics and civil society leaders. It provides a comprehensive overview of the impact of emerging technologies on the global trade system, including the top ten most transformative technologies, according to a survey of hundreds of respondents from throughout the supply chain worldwide, as well as the top seven trends, from geographical considerations and the reinvention of logistics markets to supply chain resilience.
Most transformative technologies for trade based on the World Economic Forum’s global survey:
“On the one hand, TradeTech creates benefits such as efficiency gains, new digital products and services, and positive environmental impacts. On the other, TradeTech may pose challenges such as fragmented regulations, lack of data harmonization and a widening digital divide,” said Ziyang David Fan, Head of Digital Trade, World Economic Forum. He added: “Businesses and policy-makers have to work together in order to fully unlock the potential of new technologies for trade.”
TradeTech’s importance is shown by the disruptions that technologies are causing to business models, the reconfiguration of value chains, efficiency gains, the achievement of sustainable outcomes and the inclusion of micro, small and medium-size enterprises. Yet, less positive consequences may also exist and need to be mitigated to ensure TradeTech works for all.
“Today’s trade is not just driven by low-wage labour arbitrage or access to resources. International value chains become more and more knowledge intense, partially thanks to embedded technology,” said Jimena Sotelo, Project Lead, Digital Trade, World Economic Forum. “Thus, ensuring further TradeTech adoption is not just about making trade more efficient, but sometimes about ensuring trade opportunities altogether for all companies regardless of their size, and for all countries regardless of their level of development.”
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, automated clearance systems for issuing declarations and effective risk management as well as non-intrusive inspection equipment have made a significant difference to Customs on the ground,” said Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary-General, World Customs Organization (WCO). “In cooperation with the World Economic Forum, the WCO is pleased to contribute to the global debate on the convergence of technology and trade,” he added.
This report is a continuation of Forum’s previous work on blockchain for trade, trade and supply chain finance and 3D printing for policy-makers. More than 50 experts from the public and private sectors from all regions contributed to the report. The World Economic Forum will continue to lead this multistakeholder community in advancing TradeTech to enable a more efficient, inclusive and equitable global trading system for all.
Quotes from the Industry:
“The Internet of Things offers us instant data about the physical condition of a shipment or even a single item in transit. It gives us true visibility across the supply chain. With that comes the ability to spot losses, damage and delay in real-time – and address them. Bottlenecks are identified, status updates are accurate. Over time, the data shows patterns that will help with predictive analysis, contingency planning and optimization of transit speed, cost and security,” said Mohammed Esa, global lead for digital customer solutions at Agility GIL.
“TradeTech holds significant promise in facilitating trade transactions and lowering associated costs for Qatar and its financial institutions that are not located globally,” said Alanoud Hamad Al-Thani, Managing Director, Qatar Financial Centre Authority.
“Disruptive technologies can be a game changer for trade and SME inclusion, but don’t come without challenges. Understanding these challenges is essential to ensure that TradeTech benefits all,” said Emmanuelle Ganne, Senior Analyst, Economic Research Department, World Trade Organization.
“Traditional trade moves physical goods across borders, technology augments the physical limitations with endless opportunities. Trade Tech is at the forefront of Oman’s economic agenda,” said Ali Al Shidhani, Undersecretary for Communications and Information Technology at Ministry of Transportation, Oman Government, Oman.
“The pandemic has triggered numerous changes that have been maturing over a considerable period of time and now occur rapidly. These new developments relate to the very nature of work, to international trade, to all industries, to sustainability, to the effects of climate change – and require strategic approach to day-to-day decision-making process. We are quite well prepared and have plenty of technology tools readily available for deployment. I believe that the benefits of these new technologies can only be achieved by outstripping implementation of new business models and engaging stakeholders. We shall concentrate our efforts on these areas when innovating trade and logistics,” said Dmitry Kalinin, Director, Strategic Development, Integral Petroleum.
“Following the Paris Agreement and similar global climate change policies, it is safe to assume that the economies of the future will be conscious of their greenhouse gas contributions. Optimization of the trade supply chain, trading routes using AI, and using AI and robotics for a ‘smart vessel packing’ are some of the interesting concepts to explore in TradeTech to help minimize greenhouse gas contributions from international trade while maintaining trade flow,” said Hazem Mulhim, Chief Executive Officer, Eastern Networks (EastNets).
Earth Observation Data Could Represent A Billion-Dollar Opportunity For Africa
Earth observation [EO] data provides a billion-dollar opportunity for economies on the African continent, one that could create jobs and build new resilience after COVID-19.
The newly released report Unlocking the Potential of Earth Observation to address Africa’s critical challenges lays out the multiple economic benefits from EO data. The report was written in collaboration with Digital Earth Africa, an initiative that is a world first in providing freely accessible data that maps the entire African continent.
This report marks the first known time the potential impact of EO for Africa has been quantified. According to estimates, EO could be worth up to $2 billion a year thanks to:
1. A strengthened EO industry. Improved use of EO data could lead to an extra $500 million in yearly EO sales along with new job opportunities and increased fiscal revenues.
2. Boosted agricultural productivity. Better data could potentially be worth an extra $900 million a year, thanks to water savings and productivity gains for farmers, not to mention reduced pesticide usage.
3. Better regulation of gold mining activity. Data allows countries to crack down on illegal mining, providing a potential savings of at least $900 million from reduced environmental damage and fiscal evasion.
The report shows the opportunity available in EO data to strengthen economies and reach sustainability goals. EO data can help governments make more informed decisions regarding water, agriculture, food security and urbanization. Advancing new collaborations between public and private efforts can incentivize data sharing to develop EO industries on the continent even further.
Dr Adam Lewis, Managing Director of the Digital Earth Program welcomes the findings of the report as the first of its kind to quantify the potential benefits of the program. “Through collaboration with key partners both within Africa and across the globe, we have made significant progress in turning this potential into a reality. Over the last 12 months the program has met a number of milestones in improving access to data and services within Africa. Working with Amazon Web Services as well as international space agencies and the private sector, we have been able to provide access to locally stored analysis-ready satellite data within Africa.” Adam said.
“We are proud to support Digital Earth Africa’s efforts to make Earth observation data more easily accessible to African nations,” said Ana Pinheiro Privette, Lead for Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative. “Through the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative, Amazon is making available petabytes of Earth observation data, which provide valuable insights for communities to manage climate impacts including increased floods and droughts.”
Valuing the impact of EO is an emerging practice globally, with recent reports covering the Asia Pacific, Australia, the European Union and the UK, but this is the first such report for Africa. The report was developed following examination of the readiness of African countries to effectively and efficiently grow their geospatial capabilities, integrated with study of the potential economic benefit of EO data adoption on specific sustainable development focus areas.
Data-Driven Operations Are Key to Future of Manufacturing
In the near future, manufacturing companies will collaborate in hyperconnected value networks in which data-and-analytics applications drive productivity, new customer experiences and societal and environmental impact. A new white paper, Data Excellence: Transforming Manufacturing and Supply Systems, released today presents the challenges for manufacturers and provides the steps to overcome them.
According to the report, nearly three-quarters of 1,300 surveyed manufacturing executives consider advanced analytics to be critical for success and more important today than three years ago. However, only a few companies capture the full value that data and analytics can unlock to address manufacturers’ most pressing challenges. Less than 20% of surveyed participants prioritize advanced analytics to promote either short-term cost reductions or longer-term structural cost improvements. Only 39% have managed to scale data-driven use cases beyond the production process of a single product and thus achieve a clearly positive business case.
Surveyed manufacturers cited various challenges that impeded their efforts to further scale and implement data-and-analytics solutions within their plants and across networks:
- They struggle to prioritize the right value-adding use cases from a broad range of applications
- They have not put in place technological enablers, such as data security or advanced algorithms
- They lack critical organizational enablers, such as skills and capabilities and effective internal governance
This study by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), features insights from a unique community of 40+ manufacturing organizations and leading academics and public sector representatives, identifying six priorities to capture value from data and analytics in manufacturing:
- Define a data-to-value strategy and roadmap
- Incentivize internal and external ecosystem partners
- Build capabilities to capture and use data
- Implement an open platform to unlock data silos
- Enable connectivity for low-latency, high-bandwidth data flows
- Ensure data security and privacy
“These findings will help accelerate our journey to support companies in devising a path forward to reach the next level of data-based manufacturing excellence, build trust among manufacturing, suppliers and customers, and unlock new value through the development of new data-driven ecosystems,” said Francisco Betti, Head of Shaping the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Production at the World Economic Forum.
“Manufacturing is on the verge of a data‑driven revolution,” said Daniel Küpper, Managing Director and Partner of BCG and a report co-author. “But many companies have become disillusioned because they lack the technological backbone required to effectively scale data-and-analytics applications. Establishing these prerequisites will be critical to success in the post-pandemic world.”
As a next step, the community is co-developing a Manufacturing Data Excellence Framework, which comprises value-adding applications as well as technological and organizational success factors. Companies will be able to leverage this framework to accelerate the development of globally connected manufacturing data ecosystems.
World Bank Group and CES Announce Global Tech Challenge Winners
World Bank Group and CES announced the winners of the Global Tech Challenge at CES®2021.
The result of a partnership between the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and the World Bank Group, the Global Tech Challenge was launched at CES 2020 to reward scalable and innovative technological solutions in three main areas: digital health in East Africa, resilience in India and gender equality around the world. Technology solutions that helped communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic were also prioritized.
Selected among over 1,000 applications, three winners were selected for gender equality, 10 for resilience and 17 for digital health. More details about the selected innovations can be accessed here for health, resilience and gender equality.
Global Tech Challenge winners will have the opportunity to access financial and/or technical assistance to pilot and scale their solutions on the ground with private sector companies, governments and within development projects financed by the World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries.
“From closing the digital divide to building resilience in the face of natural disasters or pandemics, innovation can solve some of the most pressing development challenges. The World Bank Group is pleased to support impactful programs focused on bringing equal access to connectivity to women in developing countries and to recognize cutting-edge solutions such as AI-enabled robots to rebuild homes in post-disaster areas. Now is the time to scale up solutions that have proven effective, so that no one is left behind in the new digital era,” said Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Infrastructure.
“Disruptive technologies are a fundamental driver of economic growth and job creation—and key to solving development challenges around the world. At IFC, we are proud to support the private sector in bringing these technologies to emerging markets, with innovations that range from portable ultrasound devices that can detect COVID-19 to medical tools that provide real-time cardiac diagnoses even in remote areas,” said Stephanie von Friedeburg, Interim Managing Director and Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer at IFC.
“We are thrilled to be continuing our work with the World Bank so the world’s best and brightest innovators at CES can collaborate with the World Bank Group to enter new markets, provide solutions and aid in development,” said Karen Chupka, EVP, CES, Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
Owned and produced by CTA, CES 2021 will be an all-digital experience connecting exhibitors, customers, thought leaders and media from around the world. CES 2021 will allow participants to hear from technology innovators, see cutting-edge technologies and the latest product launches, and engage with global brands and startups from around the world. For over 50 years, CES has been the global stage for innovation, and CES 2021 will provide an engaging platform for companies large and small to launch products, build brands and form partnerships.
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