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5 questions – 5 answers with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Benz

Aug 14, 2018

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Benz from the International School of Management and his team from Benz + Walter GmbH have been commissioned by Hypermotion to investigate how digitisation is changing our traffic systems. He knows that questions of data integration, data storage and data analysis will determine the future of mobility and logistics.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Benz
‘There is nothing more exciting than being in the field of mobility and logistics at the present time. Everything is going through a period of change and this has resulted in many innovative business models’, says Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Benz.

The White Paper entitled “Towards the Digital Mobility Split – how digitisation is changing our traffic systems” that you wrote for Hypermotion reveals a vision of the mobility and logistics of the future. What does this vision look like?

Up to now, traffic planners have often determined mobility and traffic models on the basis of counts and assumptions. But they rarely take the view of the individual user into account. The question is not how many people use cars, buses or bicycles, but who uses which mobility chain and how do we put them together to make them easy for individuals to use? We want to transfer this customer focus, which is taken very seriously in other sectors such as retail, to mobility. The same applies to logistics. This means that we need to collect, analyse and evaluate data in order to gain a better understanding.

You write that customer expectations are being redefined. What are the new needs – and what influence do they have?

Consumers want to be able to get everything and ideally immediately. One example is Amazon Prime. But then we must also be prepared for the consequences: overcrowded express vehicles that crowd and park in our cities. In order to master this challenge, a number of questions immediately arise: what might supply concepts look like? How can deliveries be bundled? Which vehicle can drive where and until when? How can pollution and noise be minimised? In order to answer them, we must be allowed to think laterally and, above all, we need data in order to be able to measure decisions, including their influences.

Speaking of lateral thinking: established companies are increasingly having to deal with new competition, some of which is foreign to the world of mobility. What opportunities might arise from this?

50 per cent of companies in Silicon Valley are involved in mobility and logistics. A new logistics start-up is founded approximately every five days somewhere in the world. This shows once again how important the market is and how great the innovation potential is. A paradigm shift is taking place here and the opportunities are enormous. Right now, what counts is: who owns the data, owns the business. So the opportunities are there – but we must seize them.

What else will mobility and logistics companies have to be able to do in the future in order to become or remain successful?

They need to understand change. Mobility and logistics are driven by data, digitisation and technologies such as 3D printing, autonomous driving and electric mobility. Production structures are changing, companies are repositioning themselves in the value chain and other sectors are moving closer to us. Companies must get involved in this. I think there is nothing more exciting than being in the field of mobility and logistics at the present time, because everything is going through a period of change and many innovative business models are emerging from this.

You say that mobility, logistics and transport must ultimately take on the state of hypermotion, a term that you expand on in the White Paper. What are the prerequisites for this – and how far are we still from it?

By the term hypermotion I not only mean Messe Frankfurt's event of the same name that tackles this subject, but also a situation in which all elements within the system, such as data, people, infrastructure, transport containers, goods and financial streams, are in continuous exchange with one another and are constantly on the move. The basis for coping with this complexity will be a network structure that we describe in the White Paper as the “Hypermotion Grid”. We are still a long way from that. But again: if we want to achieve hypermotion, questions of data integration, data storage and data analysis will be decisive. To achieve this, we not only need to create more infrastructure, but also more understanding in society. It is important to recognise and prevent the dangers of data misuse, but we must also see the positive opportunities in this. Otherwise we will soon be overtaken.

About Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Benz

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Benz is managing partner of Benz + Walter and heads the Institute for Supply Management, Clusters and Mobility Management at the International School of Management. He is also the course leader of the international Master of Logistics and Supply Chain Management programme. Benz studied industrial engineering and then did a doctorate. He was also a research assistant in the Logistics Department of the Technical University of Berlin during this period. After about five years as a consultant at IBM Business Consulting Services in Frankfurt am Main, Benz moved to Teradata GmbH, where he worked as an industry expert and specialist consultant with a focus on supply chain management and process optimisation in the areas of transportation and manufacturing.

Moving towards the Digital Mobility Split

Logistics and mobility are facing the biggest and most disruptive changes that the sector and the companies operating in it have had to deal with in recent decades. Messe Frankfurt would like to actively shape this change with Hypermotion. The White Paper “Moving towards the Digital Mobility Split” illustrates the structure of the Hypermotion trade fair and the approach behind it.

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