LM Viewpoint for September 2019: 28th Annual Masters of Logistics, time to make a move

For me, September is the time to make a fresh start. It’s the beginning of new school year for the kids; a new college and professional football season ramps up; and, of course, conference season for nearly all professions is about to get into full swing.

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You, like me, have carefully planned out your travels to a couple different conference events to match your specific needs. The goal is to network, learn, ask questions and come away with a few new solutions to help you improve your logistics operations.

And while we all set out on these trips to grow and evolve, how often do we actually come back and apply what we’ve learned or put the possibility of a new solution into motion internally? Why do we remain afraid of the specter of change?

Well, this year I’m going to challenge all Logistics 
Management readers to not only network and learn during this conference season, but come back and push some bold, new plans into motion inside your operations—especially in terms of the software and related technologies necessary to keep pace with our digital world.

Why do I toss out this challenge? According to the findings of our “28th Annual Study of Logistics and Transportation Trends Study (Masters of Logistics),” far too many logistics and supply chain professionals are spinning their wheels as it relates to their ongoing digitalization efforts.

“Digitalization of the supply chain involves a host of technologies that offer the promise of a connected network that has access to real-time, end-to-end visibility,” says Karl Manrodt, Ph.D., a professor at Georgia College and State University and one our partners on the Masters study for these many years. “Yet, when characterizing their firm’s digital transformation efforts, respondents suggested that there has been a general shift toward more passive approaches, with firms opting to follow versus lead.”

Manrodt along with Mary Holcomb, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Tennessee, have once again put context the findings starting on page 24. Over the past two years, Holcomb and Manrodt have used the study to put more focus on the factors driving digital transformation including performance, strategy and visibility.

“This year, when it comes to a digital transformation, it was interesting that we saw a nearly 60% increase in those identifying as ‘laggards’ while the ‘fast follower’ group went up over 79%,” says Manrodt. “That is, instead of taking a proactive leadership role, they’re waiting and watching to see what the Masters [firms with sales of greater than $3 billion] are doing. However, when it comes to technology adoption, the Masters don’t appear to be leading in any significant manner either.”

Based on the growing customer service pressures and importance software and technology play in alleviating some of the strain, Holcomb says she’s a bit concerned that more logistics and supply chain managers aren’t pushing the envelope and moving toward adoption.

“According to this year’s respondents, digitization is indeed getting more important, with those having a clear and defined digital business strategy increasing by 26%,” says Holcomb. “However, the ROI on digitalization is still a significant barrier for adoption for a lot of shippers. Until we get more proven use cases, I think many of the technologies will be more prudently implemented and we’ll continue to witness this ‘wait and see’ mentality.”

About the Author

Michael Levans, Group Editorial Director
Michael Levans is Group Editorial Director of American Truck Media’s Supply Chain Group of publications and websites including Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management Review, Modern Materials Handling, and Material Handling Product News. He’s a 23-year publishing veteran who started out at the Pittsburgh Press as a business reporter and has spent the last 17 years in the business-to-business press. He’s been covering the logistics and supply chain markets for the past seven years. You can reach him at [ protected]

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From the September 2019 Logistics Management Magazine Issue
For me, September is the time to make a fresh start. It’s the beginning of new school year for the kids; a new college and professional football season ramps up; and, of course, conference season for nearly all professions is about to get into full swing.
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