Cost reduction potentials in the fleet – Transparency and digitalization as an opportunity

Due to the lack of a breakdown of the absolute transport costs into individual tours and unloading processes or customer stops, companies are often unaware of cost reduction potential in the fleet. In order to improve the efficiency of the entire fleet, an electronic workflow enables documentation, makes processes measurable and thus opens up the possibility for deriving suitable optimization measures. Overall, digitalization is increasingly becoming the focus for fleet optimization. Our partner SATLOG GmbH has developed a new telematics solution to identify starting points for cost reductions and to implement digitalization in the fleet. With the help of this, costs for workflows with regard to order processing, routes, tour planning and idle times at customers can be made measurable, comparable and optimizable.

As a provider of innovative telematics solutions, SATLOG enables cost optimization in the fleet without having to sacrifice safety and reliability. SATLOG is characterized by a holistic approach – with hardware, software as a service and analysis of key figures from a single source. Location-based data is also an essential part of the solution. In this context, SATLOG has been using data and services from HERE Technologies – formerly NAVTEQ – for over 20 years. Since July last year, SATLOG has been supported by Michael Bauer International GmbH as an authorized HERE Distributor.

Figure 1: SATLOG truck tablet with special vehicle mount and company application.

Route planning and optimization eliminate uncertainties and create transparency

For many entrepreneurs, the transparency needed to cut costs is lacking. The fleet leaves on time and returns on time, but what has happened in the meantime is hardly comprehensible. Delivery windows were often defined once and then neither revised nor adapted to customer specifics. SATLOG’s established solution offers a measurement of, for example, kilometers driven, stops and locations via integrated truck telematics. With the collected performance data in combination with HERE Tour Planning, route planning and optimization is carried out, for example to increase capacity utilization or to avoid detours. As a result, uncertainties about remaining driving time, estimated time of arrival and idle times at the customer are eliminated. In addition, the integrated truck tablet offers complete order management and truck navigation as well as safety functions such as a turning assistant, a rear-view camera and tire pressure monitoring, which can significantly reduce or even prevent accidents. SATLOG offers the advantage that no installation, lengthy integration or complex training are required for use.

Figure 2: Optimized tours – Orders are automatically assigned to trucks based on cost, capacity and delivery time windows with HERE Technologies Tour Planning.

Holistic approach accompanies businesses from individual solution development to final implementation

With its telematics solutions, SATLOG primarily targets small and medium-sized companies operating in the wholesale and industrial sectors with a fleet of between 5 and 30 vehicles. In addition to the cost and performance analyses as well as the customer result calculation, company-specific special applications are usually added: In the area of fresh food services, for example, temperature control or loading instructions and for beverage wholesalers the collection of empties. SATLOG accompanies its customers with a holistic approach from the initial consultation to the final implementation and use in the fleet. The company identifies customer-specific needs and develops individual solutions together with its customers. In this process, various stakeholders and interest groups are involved, from the decision maker, dispatcher, controller, to the driver. Overall, the SATLOG solution supports strategic as well as operational improvements for its users.

Reliability and integration options distinguish HERE Tour Planning

To offer this telematics ecosystem, SATLOG relies on HERE Technologies Location Services. For the extended approach of tour planning, HERE Tour Planning has been successfully implemented as an ORACLE cloud service since this year. Dr. Jürgen Stausberg, Managing Director at SATLOG GmbH, describes the partnership as follows: “SATLOG is one of the first HERE Technologies telematics customers and has been using the service for more than 20 years. Reliability and high integration possibilities characterize the service. With the new tour planning, a new market is now emerging.” For SATLOG, one of the reasons for using HERE Tour Planning is that local solutions have many disadvantages, first need to be installed, a server is required, and employees need to be specially trained, which is not the case with the cloud solution. Optimization with HERE Tour Planning not only incorporates vehicle profiles for even more precise planning, but also information such as real-time traffic data (HERE Traffic) in order to reschedule routes if necessary, taking into account current traffic conditions. Dr. Stausberg explains why HERE Location Services and Tour Planning are sourced through MBI as a distributor as follows: “MBI regularly shows us new features that we can integrate and has its own product support. We also plan to include MBI value-added services for our clients, such as data on potential new customers along the truck route.”

For a sustainable digitalization of the fleet, the SATLOG plug & play starter kit offers a scalable and ready-to-use solution, which is moreover supported by public funding. To learn more about the innovative solution, feel free to contact the SATLOG Sales Team. If you are interested in the HERE Location Services portfolio, please reach out to our HERE Distribution Team.

About the author:
Jessica Hablowetz
Marketing Manager
Michael Bauer International GmbH

In cooperation with:
Dr. Jürgen Stausberg
Managing Director
SATLOG GmbH

The assessment of political risks – Orientation and security through MBI CONIAS Risk Intelligence

It’s a paradox: Political risks, including wars and political violence, are consistently ranked among the biggest risk factors for business managers[1]. Supply chains can be disrupted, inventories can be destroyed, sales markets can disappear. Nevertheless, the area of early detection and warning of political risks receives little attention from internationally operating companies. It is often assumed that crises and wars are too complex to be effectively predicted – but the scientifically based CONIAS approach was developed for precisely that purpose. One of the basic methods used to understand and more quickly classify the multi-layered risk situations is pattern recognition[2].

Pattern recognition is derived from general human approaches

For the complex field of political risks, pattern recognition is so well suited because it closely resembles general human behavior. An example of this is the following scenario: Two people, 20 and 50 years old, start their new job in a small company with ten employees on the same day. While the younger of the two tends to be quiet and reticent about the new situation, acting rather defensively and preferring to listen rather than speaking himself, the older one benefits from many years of professional experience and several job changes. Having experienced this situation many times before, the older person can therefore better and more quickly assess people he encounters in the new situation. He compares their behavior, their body language, the sound of their voice, but also their position with people he met on earlier “first days at work”. In doing so, the older person recognizes patterns that give him orientation in the new situation and derives conclusions for his behavior.

The MBI CONIAS database records non-violent early phases and other conflicts

People make use of pattern recognition – no matter whether through their own experience or through experience acquired through telling or reading – and thus orient themselves in new situations.  The CONIAS approach and the CONIAS database are also committed to this idea. Unlike conventional conflict databases, which only record wars or violent phases of conflict, the CONIAS database also records the non-violent early phases of these later wars[3]. In addition – and this is what makes the CONIAS approach so special – other conflicts that begin similarly to later wars but ultimately take a peaceful course are also recorded. Only in this way is it possible to make statements about the vulnerability of certain conflict constellations. This can be explained as follows: It is true that a large proportion of the few interstate wars since 1945 have been fought over territory. Examples include Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait (1991) or the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorny Karabakh region (2020). Nevertheless, conversely, it would be wrong to say that territorial or border disputes lead to war particularly frequently. Currently, there are about 120 recorded border disputes between states, almost all of which are settled without violence only at the diplomatic level. Other sources speak of an even higher number of unresolved border disputes[4].

Only a comprehensive collection of data allows to properly assess the risk potential of border disputes

In total, the CONIAS conflict database contains information on the course of more than 1,900 intra- and interstate, violent and non-violent conflicts since 1945. A large number of indicators are recorded for each conflict and actor involved, reflecting all dynamic changes in conflict resolution, but also in the socio-economic environment[5]. Thus, the CONIAS database provides millions of data points supplying statistical information on global conflict behavior. One of the most important findings of empirical conflict research can also be confirmed by CONIAS: Democracies do not wage wars against other democracies[6]. We have already integrated this “law” of democratic peace into our thinking to such an extent that, for example, even the most severe low blows in bilateral relations between Germany and the U.S. did not cause any fear of war even among the greatest pessimists.

Especially in areas not illuminated by other conflict databases, the CONIAS database reveals more points of reference

The database has shown, for example, that culturally driven conflicts have become significantly more important since the end of the Cold War in 1990 and especially after 9/11/2001[7]. At the same time, however, the CONIAS database shows that over time, it is not the number of different religions in a country that makes it vulnerable to intrastate violence, but the number of different languages spoken in the country[8].

The CONIAS conflict database is continuously maintained, and current conflict events continue to be recorded. Every quarter, knowledge about the evolution of conflicts around the world grows by tens of thousands of data points. Currently, the CONIAS team is working to better understand the links between political conflicts, human rights violations, and damage or destruction to natural livelihoods. The new supply chain law, as well as an ever-growing sense of responsibility for human rights and the environment, requires companies and ultimately every individual to act carefully in this regard. We would be pleased not only to provide you with points of reference, but also to support you with our comprehensive know-how and long-standing expertise. If you are interested, please contact our Sales Team.

About the author:
Dr. Nicolas Schwank
Chief Data Scientist Political Risk
Michael Bauer International GmbH

References:
[1] Allianz (Ed.): Allianz Risk Barometer, Various Years. Last 2021
[2] Trappl, Robert (Ed.) (2006): Programming for peace. Computer-aided methods for international conflict resolution and prevention. Dordrecht: Springer; Schrodt, Philip A. (2000): Pattern Recognition of International Crises Using Hidden Markov Models. In: Diana Richards (Ed.): Political complexity. Nonlinear models of politics. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, pp. 296.
[3] Schwank, Nicolas (2012): Konflikte, Krisen, Kriege. Die Entwicklungsdynamiken politischer Konflikte seit 1945. Baden-Baden: Nomos (Weltregionen im Wandel, 9); Schwank, Nicolas, et al. “Der Heidelberger Ansatz Der Konfliktdatenerfassung.” Zeitschrift Für Friedens- Und Konfliktforschung, vol. 2, no. 1, 2013, pp. 32–63.
[4] https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook
[5] Schwank, Nicolas (2012): Konflikte, Krisen, Kriege. (vide supra)
[6] Small, Melvin; Singer, J. David (1976): The war-proneness of democratic regimes, 1816-1965. In: The Jerusalem journal of international relations.  1 (4), pp. 50–69.
[7] Croissant, Aurel (2009) et al.: Kulturelle Konflikte seit 1945. Die kulturellen Dimensionen des globalen Konfliktgeschehens. 1st edition. Baden-Baden: Nomos (Weltregionen im Wandel, 6). Stiftung, Bertelsmann (2010): Culture and Conflict in Global Perspective. The Cultural Dimensions of Global Conflicts 1945 to 2007. Guetersloh: Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung.
[8] Ibid.

Location Intelligence in Retail

When making strategic business decisions, retailers can rely on location intelligence to gain valuable insights on the market, competitors and most importantly consumers’ interests and preferences. By putting that data to work, retailers can better understand consumer behavior and purchasing patterns and therefore improve business results and customer experience. For critical business decisions like expansion or supply chain planning, location intelligence supports well-founded decision making.

Before taking market entry decisions, location data can support the analysis of market opportunities and competition. When entering a new market, various aspects have to be taken into consideration. For the analysis of the location, data on visitors, their movement patterns, whereabouts before and after the visit and duration of stay provide valuable insights into the customer journey. When analyzing the competitive strength, visits and frequency as well as customer loyalty to competitors’ stores are important factors besides competitors’ market share. To get a better understanding of consumers, socio-economic data as well as consumer styles play an important role. With this knowledge, retailers can offer attractive products and services and even poach their competitors’ less loyal customers.

When communicating with consumers, personalization and individualization are key and can significantly enhance customer experience. By utilizing MBI’s data on movement and buying patterns, retailers can better understand interests and preferences of consumers and therefore deliver relevant communication in a targeted manner. Moreover, these insights into consumer behavior can be used to improve the performance of marketing campaigns with for example relevant deals and offers for the target audience. Especially in light of the current pandemic, there’s an increase in demand for click & collect services, where consumers buy online to then pick their order up in-store. Here as well, location intelligence can enhance the shopping experience, for example through the suggestion of the closest store for pick-up. Overall, location intelligence makes it possible for retailers to understand the customer journey in more depth for a target group relevant implementation of marketing strategies to improve customer service and experience.

Another aspect that can be optimized with location data is personnel planning and staffing decisions. When analyzing the store visitors by weekdays and hours in relation to the sales and service staff, discrepancies can be revealed and staffing schedules optimized to match customer traffic. Because of COVID, shopping in-store has noticeably changed with consumers wanting to get in and out of shops as quickly as possible, concerned about their health and safety. In general, these changes in shopping behavior are expected to last even after the COVID pandemic is over. This development is increasing the relevance of store design concepts. With the movement patterns available through location intelligence, retailers can improve the layouts of their stores for a shopping experience that is fitted to the changing consumer behavior.

In conclusion, location intelligence can support strategic decision making with insights based on a data-driven approach in times of crisis, but also thereafter. Contact our Sales Team today to learn how you can leverage this data to improve business results as well as customer experience.

Russia’s troop build-up on the Ukrainian border: Why now?

Ukraine-Russia-Donbass

The signals are worrisome: The Russian Federation’s troop concentrations on the Ukrainian border are unusual and at the same time frightening. After all, there are clear parallels with the last outbreak of war. Moreover, since this Russian-directed war in the Ukrainian Donbass region and the occupation of Crimea by Russian soldiers, relations between the two states are worse than any between other European states.

Is there a threat of war between Russia and the Ukraine?

Overall, the situation has to be described as very serious and the criticism from the Ukraine and other eastern NATO states that Germany and other Western states do not understand the situation in all its depth and threat is probably correct. Evaluations from our MBI CONIAS Conflict Database, in which the course of more than 1,000 political conflicts since 1945 is stored, also clearly show that in well over 50% of all recorded cases such troop concentrations were followed by wars or other highly violent military conflicts. Most recently, a report spread in Russia by the state-controlled media stating that the Ukraine was planning reconquests was highly concerning. Actions like this prepare the important domestic legitimacy needed by the Russian government for another war against the Ukraine. Companies are advised to be extremely mindful of this tense situation, to refrain from avoidable travel to the Ukraine, and to prepare for disruptions in the Ukrainian supply chain in contingency plans.

Why is this development taking place now?

An analysis of the situation always includes the question: What is the significance of the timing of the action? In other words: Why is the deployment taking place now, why not two months ago, what has changed? At least two answers are possible here, one confirming the dangerousness of the action, the other potentially providing a rational argument raising hope for a peaceful outcome to the situation. What has to be observed critically is that Russia has extensively issued passports to the population in the disputed regions of eastern Ukraine in recent years. Estimates put the number of new Russian citizens at at least 400,000. This could give Russia an argument for now wanting to protect this segment of the population on official Russian territory as well.

Is Russia testing the new U.S. President?

The second view dates back to the days of the Cold War, but given the current state of the international system, it may be accurate for precisely that reason: Russia could be testing the new U.S. President. Joe Biden has been in office for less than 100 days. His plans for a huge domestic economic stimulus program, the announcement of the withdrawal of American soldiers from Afghanistan, and the additionally tense budget situation after COVID make it clear that he shouldn’t have any interest in further international military engagements. Joe Biden, however, now has to demonstrate how he will respond to the provocations from Russia: It could be the overture for U.S.-Russian relations for years to come. It seems clear that U.S. President Biden is not going to engage in a military confrontation for the Ukraine any more than U.S. President Obama did during the previous crisis in 2014. In this context, he has to make it clear that the U.S. will not accept a similar approach as in 2014. Only if Biden acts quickly and decisively now and credibly conveys that the U.S. has a renewed interest in playing the role of the world’s policeman, the build-up can be halted and the Russian troops on the border to Ukraine under more or less credible justifications can be reduced. Otherwise, Russia might try to take advantage of the power vacuum created by the U.S. – as other regional powers have done. The result would be a further weakening of the international system with many more international crises to come.

Political risks have so far been considered complex and difficult to grasp. To learn more about MBI’s CONIAS Risk Intelligence and how it can support businesses in identifying risks and developing targeted adaptation strategies, contact our Sales Team.


About the author:

Dr. Nicolas Schwank
Chief Data Scientist Political Risk
Michael Bauer International GmbH

Image source: ВО «Свобода», CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Location Intelligence in Real Estate

Commercial Real Estate Properties

The most important factor in the real estate business is location. The value of a property highly depends on the surrounding area and its economic and social conditions. For the evaluation of existing investments and due diligence of future investment opportunities, location intelligence can be leveraged. It gives companies an advantage over the competition by identifying the potential of an area ahead of everybody else.

The detailed understanding of a location and emerging neighborhood trends gives investors a head start for buying or selling property in certain areas or regions. To align investment choices with requirements and needs, insights into the demographic of an area can be quite helpful. Utilizing data on population, households, purchasing power and consumer styles provides information not only on the demographic situation today but on how the area will evolve for the years to come after the investment decision.

For commercial properties, knowledge about how many people pass by and visit and also their duration of stay determines the value of a location. Therefore, location intelligence enables companies in the real estate business to find and invest in profitable commercial properties. In addition, matching tenant’s business concepts to the consumer behavior in the respective area reduces the risk of failing businesses and therefore turnover in leased commercial properties.

Location data can mean a competitive advantage in the real estate industry. By leveraging MBI’s Socio-Economic and Mobile Trace Data, companies can discover potential and make well-founded investment choices. If you are interested in optimizing your decision-making process with location intelligence, contact our Sales Team today.

A war between China and Taiwan? MBI CONIAS early warning indicators point upwards

CONIAS Conflict Spotlight: China (Taiwan)

Just yesterday, there were news that a high-ranking U.S. admiral warned about a Chinese invasion of Taiwan within the next six years. This is one of several similar reports that have been published in context of the China Taiwan Conflict in recent weeks. For example, only a few weeks ago in late January China itself warned representatives in Taiwan that any further efforts towards independence “would mean war”.

MBI CONIAS not only pays attention to current events, but also includes historical developments in all analyses

Is Taiwan a – self-proclaimed – independent state or rather a lapsed province of China, like the People’s Republic of China believes it to be? This dissent has been going on since the end of the civil war in China, the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and the exile of the non-communist government on the island of Taiwan.

Diplomatic ties started to deteriorate in 2016, leading to high tension in 2019 with China often violating Taiwanese airspace with fighter jets and territorial waters with dredgers. Taiwan on the opposite is preparing for a Chinese invasion.

Moreover, China – claiming nearly the whole sea within its „nine-dash-line” – and the USA as main counterparts are practicing military maneuvers to show force in the conflict of South China Sea. Due to many overlaps to this conflict and the importance of Taiwanese computer technology for the western nations, further escalation is not totally unlikely anymore.

A complete picture of the situation only emerges if all political conflicts in and around China are included in the analysis

The China Taiwan Conflict is only one of 16 ongoing conflicts directly related to China monitored by the CONIAS Risk Intelligence database. In addition, we observe nearly 900 other conflicts, some of which also touch on China’s security. Only by combining all observations, the total risk value for China and each of its provinces can be calculated.

Learn more about MBI CONIAS Risk Intelligence and contact our Sales Team today for an introductory conversation.

 

Sources: The Guardian, BBC

Data availability in different languages and writing systems facilitates working in multinational companies

In companies with locations in several countries, employees often have to adapt to uniform standards such as a corporate language that is not their native language. However, not only international companies, but also those operating in a country with more than one national language are faced with this challenge.

In order to solve this issue and, for example, to be able to perform Search & Display as well as Geocoding in the various national languages ​​and writing systems, MBI has developed Additional Names in the new 2021 data update.

For a country like Belgium, for example, the various variables such as city names are now listed in all national languages ​​- in this case Dutch, French and German. At the same time, for countries with a writing system other than Latin, such as Greece, there is the advantage that additional entries are now available in the respective national writing system.

Additional names can be easily imported into existing systems due to their clear listing and integration into microgeographic, administrative and postal levels. If you are interested or for further information on MBI Additional Names, please contact our Sales Team.

Giving Back

This year, we decided to donate our annual Christmas budget to charity. Instead of just randomly selecting one, we asked our customers and partners to join us in making the decision as to whom we could support. After all, Christmas is a time of giving and the best gift is to be able to give. We left it to our partners and customers to decide whether they would like to donate their share of our budget to WWF, Doctors without Borders or Lanta Animal Welfare.

We chose Lanta Animal Welfare, a non-profit charity based in south west Thailand, instead of a global organization because one of our employees was volunteering there herself last year. Since they highly depend on tourists for support and donations, she brought their need for support in times of COVID to our attention.

All donations have now been transferred and we hope they’ll make a difference during these tough times. We also encourage our friends, customers and partners to support these or similar organizations in their quest to help those whom cannot help themselves. 

Was the military coup in Myanmar to be expected?

MBI-Military-Coup-Myanmar

After the US Capitol was stormed in early January, now a military coup followed in Myanmar. Due to their constant observation of various risk aspects, our MBI CONIAS Risk Intelligence experts were already aware of the current danger of a coup in Myanmar. The following points had caused the country’s risk value to swell in recent months:

  1. The clear outcome of last November’s parliamentary elections, in which the power-conscious military experienced a resounding and sensitive defeat;
  2. The failed lawsuits of the defeated military-affiliated parties because of alleged election fraud and
  3. The corresponding threat by the military last week.

Now the military has actually arrested leading figures of the ruling party. Among them is Nobel Peace Prize laureate and de facto head of government Aung San Suu Kyi.

Will there be violent protests?

The situation is still difficult to assess for outsiders and observers. “What worries us,” says Dr. Nicolas Schwank, Chief Data Scientist for Political Risks at Michael Bauer International, “is the phase of democratization the country is currently in. The exceptionally large turnout of 70% in the parliamentary elections in November shows us that the population has taken a liking to democratic co-determination. The people may want to defend these new rights.” His attention now turns to the arrested election winners. Government leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who’s still one of the most popular politicians in the country, has already called on the people to oppose the coup. “Crucial to the question of whether there will be subsequent violent resistance to the coup is how the arrested leadership will continue to behave and whether they will call for violence. However, since San Suu Kyi has become well-known and influential because of her nonviolent resistance to the military, there’s hope that bloodshed can be avoided.”

What are the business risks arising from current events in Myanmar?

The risk to investments made by Western companies in recent years also cannot be definitively assessed at this time. “I currently consider the risk that Western countries will react with sanctions and trade embargoes as relatively high – also with reference to comparable cases stored in our database”, Dr. Schwank continues. Despite the encapsulation during the military dictatorship in the past, Dr. Schwank currently does not see any risk of the new military government deliberately destroying production facilities or warehouses belonging to foreign investors. The military wants to present itself as the guardian of law and order. Besides, the country urgently needs foreign currency even under military rule. At the same time, the information situation is still difficult at present, and it is advisable to continue listening to the military’s pronouncements very closely.

The events at the US Capitol as well as the current military coup in Myanmar show how important election dates are for the analysis of the current political country risk. Therefore, we offer our global MBI CONIAS election calendar to all clients and interested parties. If you are interested or for further information on MBI CONIAS Risk Intelligence, please contact our Sales Team.

Political risks are becoming more important – We provide the data on it

MBI-Increase-Political-Risks

Two global risk reports were published last week and both support our analysis: Political risks are gaining in importance. While the World Risk Report of the World Economic Forum in Davos explicitly warns of a collapse of states as well as the use of weapons of mass destruction in the long-term perspective, the Allianz Risk Barometer now ranks the outbreak of political violence again among the top 10 business risks.

However, a closer look at the reports reveals that fear of political risks is often behind other mentions as well. For both the outbreak of pandemics and an intensification of climate change, the greatest concerns are social change such as growing inequality and distribution struggles within and between states.

In this context, the World Economic Forum as well as global management consultancies such as McKinsey urgently appeal to businesses to revise their risk management. Companies with a strong risk management culture not only record lower losses in claims, they are also superior to their competitors in terms of employee and customer loyalty, for example.

Political risks have so far been considered complex and difficult to grasp. With MBI’s CONIAS Risk Intelligence, political risks are as easy to understand as a weather forecast. Schedule a meeting with our Sales Team today to learn more.

 

Sources: World Economic Forum, McKinsey, Allianz