Trading the Old for the New

Trading the Old for the New

DP World and The European Tour are using data-intelligence to drive game-changing innovation on a global scale.

Produced by (E) BrandConnect

Business owners once built their presence in the local marketplace by relying on a small band of loyal customers to keep money in their tills. These merchants would quake at the scale of today’s commercial landscape, as businesses compete for the attention of foreign customers, fine-tuning their products to satisfy different preferences, challenges and opinions. To navigate this vast modern marketplace, today’s business leaders are turning to technology to produce local solutions on a global scale.

“Trade was once a manual industry,” says Simon Pitout, Vice President of global trade-enabling and logistics giant DP World. “But to improve the value of this industry, you need to understand where your system has inefficiencies and develop solutions to address them.” By using technology that turns each piece of cargo into a data point, DP World is transforming trade into a digital industry, Mr Pitout explains, pointing to the automated gates at the company’s ports, each using image recognition to verify and track containers as they move to and from ships. “By tracking the real-time movement of cargo, we can pass on a level of transparency to our clients that lets them develop new methods of servicing customers around the world.”

Data-driven insights are even transforming how DP World’s partner, The European Tour, is shaping golf fans’ tournament experience. At the 2018 Ryder Cup, for example, The European Tour used data-gathering sensors and location-based mobile technologies to track the movements of the 270,000 fans who attended the three-day event. “Understanding how people move around the course allows us to tailor our services,” says Michael Cole, Chief Technology Officer at The European Tour. “Geo-fencing, for example, allows us to send fans particular offers or information depending on which part of the course they’re in.” As this technology becomes more sophisticated, strategists will be able to sync fans' movements with the availability of particular services, such as washrooms and food stalls.

By logging and analysing how people act and react in particular situations, data can help business leaders to create bespoke solutions for each client around the world. For example, when a surge in demand for new cars began to put pressure on the Philippines’ biggest car-carrier port, DP World turned to the data. Combining weather pattern and trade flow data with an analysis of local infrastructure, the company’s leaders devised a solution that could support the boom in automotive imports. “We built up an automated service to unload vehicles from cargo ships and store them in weatherproof multistorey storage facilities before using automated tracking systems to unload and deliver them,” explains Mr Pitout.

Brand’s new stories

While businesses once relied on a lack of local competition to ensure customer loyalty, today’s global marketplace buzzes with choice. For brands to stand out to modern consumers, they have to be telling new stories.

“We’re number two in the marketplace behind the 800-pound gorilla of the PGA Tour,” acknowledges Rufus Hack, The European Tour’s Chief Commercial Officer. “And knowing how deep their pockets are, the only way we will win – whether that’s in terms of viewer numbers or revenue – is to do things differently.”

In 2018, Austria hosted the world’s first Shotclock Masters, The European Tour’s new competition format which gives players just under a minute to take their shot, with referees following on buggies fitted with huge digital clocks to keep the players up to speed. The format was designed to combat the slow play that dogs golf’s traditional format, but it also serves as a platform through which The European Tour can spark conversation. “What this technology does is give us a more precise reading of where the players are and how they’re moving around the course,” says Mr Hack. “In the future, this insight could be used to develop new commentary formats or even intelligent new ways of playing the game.”

Look closer, and the stories buried in these data flows can reveal areas of systemic inefficiency, informing product innovation and investment. When DP World analysts studied the flows of cargo to and from the company's Mumbai port, they noticed that a vast amount of it was travelling via the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, a notoriously congested and dangerous route. This insight influenced DP World’s move to partner with Virgin Hyperloop to build a magnetic train between Mumbai and Pune. DP World Cargospeed, which was approved by state government earlier this year, will run 100 miles between the two cities, cutting the three-and-a-half-hour journey time to 35 minutes.

When built, DP World Cargospeed, using Hyperloop technology, will serve as a testament to data-driven innovation. It should also act as a reminder to businesses competing in today’s global marketplace: companies fuelled by data move the fastest.


Produced by (E) BrandConnect, a commercial division of The Economist Group, which operates separately from the editorial staffs of The Economist and The Economist Intelligence Unit. Neither (E) BrandConnect nor its affiliates accept any responsibility or liability for reliance by any party on this content.