A fundamental result of the ICT and business performance literature is that ICT is not a driver of performance per se (Francalanci and Morabito, 2008) and a significant impact of ICT is achievable when accompanied by organizational change and collaboration. Hence agreement on concepts, services and stakeholder involvement addresses the need to consider “soft issues”, such as organisational aspects and new business models.
Some successful pilot applications have been carried out involving information sharing with a number of stakeholders (e.g., Gothenburg Port Pilot, Sternberg et al., 2012), yet those tests have generally addressed closed-loop systems and even though some authorities and stakeholders have been involved, there was never a participation of all relevant stakeholders. The services that should be included are, e.g., administrative services, transport planning information, etc. In order fully realize the potential of these services; new stakeholders need to become involved in the information sharing and the enabling ICT infrastructure (Sternberg et al., 2012).A majority of road transport operators are SMEs and their inability to efficiently collaborate on providing transport services outside established collaborations (i.e., spot market), is one of the factors decreasing fill rates (McKinnon and Ge, 2006). Regional models for spot markets are not sufficient.
An underlying assumption of several research projects (e.g., Eurofot, Euridice, EIT, etc.) is that goods is handled (i.e., loaded, unloaded, consolidated in terminals) to a much higher degree than what is currently the situation. As of today, road transport operators are generally driving substantially longer distances (with lower fill rates) in order to avoid stopping at terminals and goods handling. There are several reasons for that, but one of the major factors is the long ramp times and severe inefficiencies of terminal processes, in particular administration (Sternberg, 2008).
An increased openness in all parts of the goods transport network will not only reduce these inefficiencies, but above all enable inter-modality and higher fill rate through capacity sharing and improved planning (based on improved information availability and sharing).
To this purpose our roadmap foresees short-term research actions to find the right business models and technological platforms for provisioning of services that are agreed and of known value to all stakeholders, especially to SMEs. These should be as simple and close to SMEs’ objectives as possible, thus favouring adoption and triggering information sharing practices that then can evolve to support more complex scenarios. Pilots, to be available by 2016, should serve to demonstrate the actual information sharing benefits to a vast audience of SMEs, and trigger a consistent market adoption by 2020.