AEB study reveals the critical use of business apps in logistics and global trade

Apps have become part of everyday private life. But what is the role of business apps in global trade, logistics and supply chain management? A new study by software provider AEB and the University DHBW in Stuttgart (Germany) provides the answer.
The Global Trade Management Agenda 2017, a study conducted by AEB in cooperation with University DHBW in Stuttgart, Germany, features responses from 330 experts in the fields of logistics, global trade and supply chain management.
The result: Nine out of ten participants consider business apps as a critical, competitive factor in global trade and logistics. Most (86.7%) agreed that the importance of business apps will continue to grow in these areas. “The results show that the topic is highly relevant and that we are only at the beginning of a dynamic development,” emphasises Prof. Dr. Dirk H. Hartel, Head of the Department of Business Administration Service / Logistics Management at DHBW Stuttgart. “The respondents agreed on this even though business apps are not yet being used in many companies.”
Logistics is leading the way in spite of low overall usage
Only 17.6% of respondents are already using apps in supply chain management, logistics, or global trade, while another 21.1% are planning to introduce them. Together with the areas of administration, sales, and marketing, logistics plays a pioneering role when it comes to using apps, while their use in management accounting (4.7%) and procurement (10.2%) is lagging behind.
Survey participants use apps for the research and provision of technical information in logistics (28.4%). Furthermore, they are relatively widespread in transport management, with more than a quarter of respondents using them in transport control (26.1%) and about one-fifth in fleet management (20.5%) as well as container management (20.4%). Use of apps is much rarer in other logistics areas, such as order management, personnel planning, or loading. However, roughly another third of respondents in all application areas are planning to use apps in these areas in future.
The study also looks at the use of apps in global trade, where terror list screening is the most common area: Already 29.4% of respondents are using apps for this purpose, with another 33.8% planning to do so in the future. The use of mobile applications is especially rare in export controls, although 36.8% of companies are planning to change this. Business apps are also becoming more widespread in the area of customs management, where they are used for classification in only about one-fifth of companies, although nearly 50% have plans to use them in the future.
The main benefits: Transparency, flexibility, and control
Transparency (46.9%), flexibility (46.4%), and control (46.0%) are essential advantages of mobile applications for nearly every second respondent. However, only 30.4% consider it ‘very likely’ that apps will contribute to a competitive edge.
Upper management is particularly optimistic when it comes to business apps, regarding the realisation of the above mentioned benefits as ‘very likely.’ Employees without a leadership role are much more sceptical.
“The views of upper management should not be seen merely as strategically calculated optimism. They are actually often based on personal experience,” says Dr. Ulrich Lison, Portfolio Manager and Member of the Executive Board of AEB who has conducted the study together with Prof. Dr. Hartel. After all, some 80% of top-level managers currently use business apps most intensively.
The study also asked about the top 3 success factors for using apps. Results reveal in-house IT integration to be considered an app’s most critical success factor by nearly every second respondent (47%). For 33.3%, an app’s functionality across different operating systems is important, while 29.4% emphasised the added value by the app.