Putting digital business models on the right track: How rail executives deal with pressing changes
Novel mobility scenarios
This is an exciting time for the transportation industry. Globalization and trade are increasing, demographics are changing, and novel mobility scenarios are evolving from new technologies and market entrants.
If you’re in the business of moving goods and people around the world, you’re facing pressure on several fronts. Once tightly controlled and state-dominated, the industry has thrown open its doors to privatization and deregulation. Established entities now compete with ambitious new entrants in an unstable market. At the same time, a growing focus on sustainability and environmental impact has placed new restrictions on how logistics companies operate. Now is the time to prepare for future mobility scenarios.
At Roland Berger, we understand that these fundamental changes have left many firms on shaky ground, unsure of how to balance short-term demands with long-term strategy. Our implementation capabilities have been voted the strongest for years, and we are committed to helping you navigate the modern mobility and logistics landscape with smart management strategies and a keen eye on the future of the industry.
Our projects cover the entire value chain and each phase of the corporate life cycle—transformation, growth, and performance—as well as placing a special focus on digitization.
In the United States and Europe, the aviation industry is now scarcely recognizable when compared to just a few decades ago. M&As have consolidated the legacy carriers into a handful of behemoths, which now compete desperately with domestic low-cost carriers as well as state-owned rivals in Asia and the Persian Gulf. Some suffer from a significant deterioration in profitability. For others, this growing competition offers new opportunities. And yet, many companies are unclear where those opportunities lie or how best to capitalize on them.
Whether for airlines and airports, there are many factors to consider when devising a management strategy in this industry: alliances and partnerships, service strategy, pricing and revenue management, sales planning and controlling, and distribution channel management. Roland Berger offers an approach that treats each of these factors as part of a cohesive whole. We take a broad perspective to improve our clients' performance.
As an efficient supply chain is critical for profitability, the logistics industry plays a key role in any manufacturing business. We understand the tendency towards shorter contracts, and we know how to tackle uncertainty about the future of standard demand in a digital economy. Closely intertwined with the global economic and trade environment, logistics has become the backbone of global supply chains, keeping people and products on the move.
Roland Berger works for logistics providers around the world. With our global perspective and experience, we can help our clients leave a footprint in high-growth markets like Asia, which is experiencing increased intraregional trade. However, building business in emerging markets does not mean that our clients need to abandon mature ones. We advise a strategic focus on value-adding market segments in light of two trends: the transition from commodity services toward specific industries requiring specialized logistics, and a move from B2B toward B2C transactions. Keeping this in mind, we can help to optimize processes and networks, extending to growth, organization, and asset or business model reviews.
Postal incumbents need to respond to three major challenges: liberalization, decline in traditional mail volume, and regulatory pressure. In regions such as the EU, liberalization targets the full market opening. While competition grows stiffer, e-substitution entails a decline in mail volumes or global stagnation. As if this situation was not complex enough, regulation constrains postal price flexibility to enforce mail tariffs that would counteract these downward dynamics.
We work for postal providers around the world on leading-edge issues. To achieve excellence in existing business, we support our clients across various areas. Diversification along the postal value chain is just one way to deal with this challenging business environment; comprehensive cost reduction and performance improvement programs are further entrepreneurial solutions that have been tried and tested by many of our postal clients. Our experts know how to pull all the levers on your entrepreneurial journey—from decreasing production costs, to the optimization of central functions and your product portfolio.
Competition in the rail industry has been increasing steadily due to both the opening of international markets and new entrants. Emerging markets, regulation, demographic trends like urbanization and—last but not least—the increasing interconnectedness brought about by digitization are all globalization factors facing mobility providers. At the same time, many companies are in the process of implementing far reaching reforms to foster competition and promote the development of international passenger and freight services. Amidst this intensifying competition, rail operators are faced with a unique double challenge: reducing costs while at the same time making their offers more attractive. In addition, mobility providers have to deliver their services as an integral part of increasingly intermodal mobility as well as a smooth, seamless operation. For the rail industry, this means playing a new game.
Whether it is purchasing, scheduling, handling, fleet management, maintenance, or any other part of the operation, Roland Berger is uniquely qualified to support our clients' repositioning goals. We help identify cost-cutting potential that won’t compromise safety, service, or your reputation. With our guidance, you can redesign your operations quickly and quietly—while continuing to deliver the experience that your customers expect.
Rail Supply Industry Watch: To get a clear picture of key issues shaping the rail supply industry through the eyes of its top executives see the Rail Supply Industry Watch here.
As one of the key facilitators of international trade, the shipping and ports sector is particularly vulnerable to bumps in the world economy. Profitability has come under pressure—there are huge tasks ahead in the shipping market, while ports face planning, development, and productivity challenges in response to changing trends in cargo mix, demand growth in developing countries, new growth areas, and technologies. Fluctuating revenues often clash with long breakeven periods and the constant demand for capital-intensive investments. What is more, regulations on port development differ significantly from one country to the next. Global port firms must navigate an extremely complex and often unpredictable system of restrictions.
We have a deep understanding of the shipping value chain and, having worked with many leading international ports, Roland Berger offers its clients a number of distinct advantages. Not only are we experts in the operation and management of port facilities and shipping companies, we’re also a truly global firm with detailed local knowledge in all parts of the world. We know how the regulatory environment differs in each country. From strategy audits to the implementation of cost saving initiatives, from acquisition strategy support to post-merger-integration, from market analyses to due diligence, we can develop a strategy that delivers both global perspective and local nuance—a combination that puts your company ahead.
Driven by global economic growth and a resulting increase in seaborne trade, the ship building landscape has evolved over the last decades to show different patterns across different segments and regions. The current market situation is characterized by a weak demand side due to low freight and charter rates, as well as prevailing overcapacities, all of which result in lower order books, ship order cancellations and postponements, and underutilized shipyard facilities. Further restructuring, contraction, and consolidation can be expected in the shipbuilding landscape. Players now need to safeguard their market position by taking one of two paths: generating economies of scale paired with operational excellence and efficiency, or focusing on very specific niche segments.
We have been involved in shaping and advancing the shipbuilding industry since our company was founded. Regionally and globally, we have successfully served a number of clients in the shipbuilding sector and have successfully advised our clients on comprehensive restructuring, covering strategic, operational, and financial perspectives. We have also assisted in developing CEO-agendas with regard to growth strategies, market entry strategies, and business model reviews. With decades of experience steering companies through 'rough seas', Roland Berger has proven itself to be a partner you can trust to help navigate your business decisions.
Today, more than 50 percent of hotel bookings are already made through digital channels—platforms are calling the shots in online sales and new providers are crowding in to the market. This is just one example of a profound change in tourism. Having served the major players in the industry, our experts are familiar with all topical trends. The travel and tourism industry has been transformed in recent years by "disintermediation" and "re-intermediation". This means that tourism service providers are trying to approach their customers directly. At the same time, new and more dynamic modes of packaging and selling have been developed, partially replacing tour operators' business. As our experts explain, this is why that there is a two-fold paradox in the evolution of the travel distribution.
At Roland Berger, we have worked on a vast array of projects—and always for the best interests of our clients. We have developed tourism strategies at national, regional, and local levels, and we know how to set up and implement growth strategies as well as initiate innovative business models. Revenue management, pricing, and multichannel (digital) strategies are our home turf. We have successfully advised the hospitality business, tour operators, travel agents, associations, and entertainment companies, and we invite clients to benefit from our unique transportation value proposition and a modern digital approach.
- Photo credit: Alexander Spatari / Getty Images