Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (July 12, 2019)

The used car salesman lives on.

I’ve been searching online for a used car to buy for my daughter before she heads back to college. Nothing fancy, nothing too expensive. I found a car at a Honda dealership about an hour away. I called them and spoke to Philip there about the car: How did they acquire the car? What work has been done to it? Was it still available? Can my daughter and I test drive it today?

“Yes, of course, I’ll be here until 8 pm tonight,” he responded. 

My daughter and I fought through rush hour traffic and drove an hour to the dealership. We met Philip, exchanged some pleasantries, and then he informs me that the car — which had supposedly passed their 186 point inspection — is in the repair shop, so we won’t be able to test drive it. “But we have other value-priced cars you can look at,” Philip says to me.

My daughter and I walked out.

“A new kind of car buying experience” is what this dealership promises. The leisure suit might be gone, but there’s nothing new about it: the used car salesman lives on.

Moving on to this week’s supply chain and logistics news:

Amazon Training Employees for Tomorrow’s Jobs

Amazon announced this week that it is pledging “to upskill 100,000 of its employees across the United States, dedicating over $700 million to provide people across its corporate offices, tech hubs, fulfillment centers, retail stores, and transportation network with access to training programs that will help them move into more highly skilled roles within or outside of Amazon.”

Which highly-skilled jobs are in most demand? Here’s some insight from the press release:

The upskilling programs are built by Amazonians, around insights provided by Amazon’s fast-growing workforce – which will reach 300,000 employees in the U.S. this year – and experts in the changing jobs landscape. Based on a review of the company’s jobs and analysis of hiring data from its U.S. workforce, Amazon’s fastest growing highly skilled jobs over the last five years are data mapping specialist (832% growth), data scientist (505%), solutions architect (454%), security engineer (229%) and business analyst (160%) [emphasis mine]. Within customer fulfillment, highly skilled roles have increased over 400%, including jobs like logistics coordinator, process improvement manager and transportation specialist within our customer fulfillment network.

Not surprising, most of them involve data and analysis. This coincides with the Indago research I wrote about earlier this week (“The Most Important Skills For Supply Chain Young Professionals”) where our supply chain and logistics members ranked analytical skills as the most important skill young professionals must have to succeed moving forward.

But as a Chief Supply Chain Officer commented on my post on LinkedIn, “While important, I would put analytical skills behind people skills and communication skills [which ranked second and third in the Indago survey]. I’m seeing too many supply chain professionals early in their career that aren’t comfortable with the people part of the job.”

It’s the people skills and communication skills that keep us human. A Data Scientist without them is just a computer.

Digital: The New E

Remember back in the late 90s and early 2000s, when everybody was putting “e-” in front of everything: e-commerce, e-business, e-logistics, e-procurement, e-fulfillment, etc. Eventually we dropped the “e-” and e-business just became business again (e-commerce remains the only holdout, although at the rate it’s growing, it will ultimately become just commerce in the future too).

We’re in a new era today: putting “digital” in front of everything, as in digital freight, digital logistics, and digital transportation. Here are a couple of highlights from this week:

Loadsmart and Oracle Collaborate to Digitize Logistics: The two companies announced their collaboration “to provide Oracle Logistics Cloud customers instantly bookable truckload rates and guaranteed capacity from the Loadsmart network of qualified carriers directly in Oracle Transportation Management (OTM) Cloud…Through the Loadsmart integration with Oracle Transportation Management Cloud, shippers automatically receive a real-time rate as soon as the primary carrier declines. Rather than relying solely on static backup rates which are rarely updated, the Oracle Transportation Management Cloud routing guide selects the Loadsmart real-time market rate when it is more competitive than the next best routing guide option.”

GlobalTranz Announces the Next Generation of Digital Freight Matching: The company announced “the launch of GTZamp™ (Automated Movement Planning), a Digital Freight Matching (DFM) solution designed for enterprise customers, combining the speed and ease of DFM with enhanced, multi-movement planning capabilities…To facilitate the simultaneous combination and booking of multiple movements, GTZamp’s machine learning algorithms leverage an enormous repository of live load and historical data to provide load recommendations. The machine uses the appropriate variables to account for realistic and viable combinations, taking into account prior performance, Hours of Service, locations of pick and drop, detention time, transit times, appointment and drop-off times, equipment type, etc.”

GEFCO’s acquisition of Chronotruck and the news about Rivigo (links above) also fall into this category.

What we’re seeing overall in the industry is that advancements in technology — most notably, cloud computing, software-as-a-service, application programming interfaces, and mobile computing — are making it easier for shippers, carriers, and brokers of all sizes, as well as private fleets and others in the transportation ecosystem, to more easily integrate and transact with one another. The digital era is about finally enabling the network effect in transportation management

And in time, digital freight and digital logistics will just become freight and logistics again.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Skin” by Oingo Boingo