C.H. Robinson CEO Biesterfeld makes case for major technology investment at CSCMP

Minneapolis, Minn.-based global logistics services provider and freight forwarder C.H. Robinson said this week that it is making a major investment in innovation, advanced technologies, and talent. The driver for this stems from in-depth customer research, according to the company. The investment comes in the form of $1 billion to be allocated in technology over the next five years, which the company said is twice as much as it previous $1 billion in investment into technology over the last ten years.

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Minneapolis, Minn.-based global logistics services provider and freight forwarder C.H. Robinson said this week that it is making a major investment in innovation, advanced technologies, and talent. The driver for this stems from in-depth customer research, according to the company.

The investment comes in the form of $1 billion to be allocated in technology over the next five years, which the company said is twice as much as it previous $1 billion in investment into technology over the last ten years. In terms of personnel, C.H. Robinson has more than 1,000 data scientist, engineers, and developers.

At this week’s Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif., C.H. Robinson CEO Bob Biesterfeld  provided an overview of feedback his company collected from more than 3,000 domestic and international shippers, which helped to drive this investment, including:

-Technology is more important than ever, with 88% of shippers who contract to purchase freight saying that technology is extremely or very important when choosing a logistics provider;

-Visibility and predictive tools are external logistics providers’ most important assets, with 65% of customers saying they either have or are planning on implementing real-time visibility and insight tools in the next two years; and

-Local expertise is key, with 83% of shippers saying that having a logistics partner with local and global expertise is essential to their business needs

The top C.H. Robinson executive also highlighted other key trends that helped to exemplify how the company will continue to invest into innovation to help benefit customers. These trends included: how people will drive technology: in order to go global, you need to go local first; and investments in infrastructure are key. 

“[T]ech is amazing, but having great people is still a huge competitive advantage,” Biesterfeld said at CSCMP. “Everyone in logistics needs people and experts that they can rely on, in order to solve their complex logistics needs. To deliver that kind of best-in-class service in the future, supply chain experts are going to continue to need to have a variety of new skills and bring new and different perspectives to the industry. As the pace of technological change continues to advance and growth in global sourcing grows many people need to know how that technology works but also how to weave that technology together with supply chain functions and the intersection of the two even more.”  

And he added that the ability to mesh different cultures, languages, and businesses are going to matter even more, coupled with the drive to continually innovate and make things faster and cheaper and meet customers where they live and how they live will separate the winners from the losers.

The global supply chain: In a global economy, even the best ideas cannot move forward without first focusing on the supply chain, he said.

“Supply chain is truly where the rubber meets the road; it is where tech meets the practical business necessity to move product around the globe faster than ever, he explained. “One recent study found that 58% of companies that have high performing supply chains are achieving revenue growth greater than the average in their industries. That tells us that companies and countries in the next 20 years are going to win on supply chain, and that cannot happen without great infrastructure. Countries that have the best infrastructure will have a global advantage, and that includes roads and bridges, high speed Internet, and IoT. Companies that don’t invest in their global supply chain will struggle to keep up. Countries that don’t invest in their infrastructure will get left behind in the global economy.”


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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