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Orignally, Aramex was big locally and small internationally. In his influential book The World is Flat Thomas Friedman described Aramex as the epitome of globalization. One way companies can flourish in a flat, non hierarchical world, he wrote, is to act small in order to enable their customers to act big.The key to being small and acting big is to take quick advantage of new tools for collaboration, and that attitude is deeply ingrained in the Aramex DNA. Decades ago co-founder Fadi Ghandour offered to partner with international players like FedEx that did not yet have a foot in the Middle East. He knew the local market and could handle the ins and outs of the local clashes and other political, economic disruptions in the region.

The company made their online tracking and tracing system available to its partners providing them with a unified language and set of quality standards, as well as training and best practice sharing in an alliance that united over 40 regional delivery companies.

Today, the first home grown package delivery service in the Arab world is a pioneer in digital disruption.

Crowdsourced delivery

If you’re in logistics, you’d better be fast. Not just because speed is the essence of a courier company, but because of rapid technological advances. The sector is changing. Thanks to the surge in online shopping, small package delivery has become a huge source of revenue in addition to the traditional bulk freight business.

Guided by a disruption team reporting directly to the CEO, leaders at Aramex have the foresight to build for what is going to happen and not for what is happening now. With the rise of companies like Uber, Aramex quickly realized the need for a shift in mindset. Their business model is simple. Apps allow the customer to pay electronically for deliveries at a preferred delivery time, to communicate with the courier and to rate their satisfaction. Apps for couriers enable them to see available jobs, claim tasks and deliver to the customer’s location.

True, the model required a massive investment in mobile technology, but it is paying off. Quicker than the post, but slower than overnight, Aramex fills a gap in emerging markets in Asia and Africa.

Instead of competing with well established giants like DHL in Europe or the US, Aramex is targeting countries and SAP SAPcultures they know better than anyone. They know how the communities are networked. They can partner with small taxi companies or food delivery firms that want to monetize their downtime. They are liberating the job market and enabling individuals to do more with their time. You can be a barber in the morning and a courier in the evening.

Power to the people

Like other successful companies in the sharing economy, Aramex is asset light. Doing business requires engaged employees and partnerships with people who own and operate vehicles needed for logistics and transportation.

Sadek El-Assaad, Chief Human Resource Officer at Aramex, explains the secret to employee engagement.

“Consumers are not the same and business is not the same in all the countries we serve. We need to give all employees the margin to best serve customers as they see fit in their own region. We are developing partnerships with our employees. They can work anytime, they can make deliveries by bike, they can have a franchise for a district or a block where they know the neighborhood and have trusted relationships with locals. They are paid by number of packages delivered.”

Just as consumer habits vary from country to country, so do HR processes. Running on SAP SuccessFactors, Aramex is empowering managers to perform standard HR tasks on the go wherever they are, freeing them up to spend more time on strategic acquisition of talent and continuous performance management.

“Roles are changing very quickly, so we need to train and upskill employees for the task at hand. Automation is not about removing jobs. It’s about enabling people to change jobs quickly to keep meeting the needs of the consumers. The future of HR is to enable business with the right skills and the right people,” says Sadek El-Assaad.

Few companies have such a successful, disruptive business model. Aramex excels because they know that enabling their customers to act big starts with enabling employees to act big.