The Biggest Challenges Facing Logistics CIOs
Q&A With Jeff Shorts, CIO, Neovia
What is the biggest challenge facing CIOs in the logistics industry?
Cyberterrorism and finding qualified, experienced staff are the biggest challenges. We are spending a substantial amount of time and money to protect ourselves from cyberterrorists and keep our environments and our operations flowing uninterrupted. Competition for talent is extreme, driving compensation higher and making it difficult to compete in some of the major areas of the world.
Who is driving innovation in logistics technology?
I’m not sure any one company is driving technology in the industry, but Amazon is definitely setting a high bar. Not everyone requires recent advances such as smart glasses, drones, unmanned fork lifts and 3D printing, which is why our approach focuses on driving new and innovative solutions, grounded in real-world operations to add value to our customers at all levels.
What role does technology play in allowing businesses to differentiate themselves?
Given the legacy methods of managing warehouses, strong WMS and IM systems make a huge difference. We’ve seen productivity levels dramatically increase as solutions have been moved from the legacy mainframe systems to more functionally rich options on the market. Of course, adding company IP to those newer solutions enriches the solution even more.
What impact do you think the influx of logistics tech start-ups will have in the industry?
Provided they possess the deep logistical experience, their solutions will definitely garner a long look.
What role do customers play when implementing or developing new logistics IT?
The key to customers using third party logistics providers’ systems is data. I can’t stress the importance of clean, accurate data. A system is only as good as the data loaded.
How are you attracting top technology talent to your organization?
Besides the usual recruiting methods, we utilize social media to attract talent. Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. You need to tell a good story about your organization. Younger talent does not want to waste time in a stale organization. They look for innovated technology when choosing their next job.
Considering recent cyber attacks, what steps can companies take to limit the risk as much as possible?
Steps such as penetration testing should be done by outside firms to test your boundaries. Most importantly an organization must have a strong employee awareness program. Attacks are becoming more sophisticated and target employees through phishing. Providing our employees with knowledge of how these phishers operate is key to prevention.
Which new disruptive technology do you think will have a dramatic impact on the industry over the coming 12 to 18 months?
The industry has been void of customer access to data. As more data is brought to the fingertips of the user community, it is unimaginable what new revelations will arise.
If you had an unlimited budget, what would you look to automate?
Place significant automation in the warehouse. Of course, that is predicated on the type of goods being warehoused and the assumption that the facility already has a solid operating system based on Lean Six Sigma principles to provide a structure for operational success. So many older warehouses are fully manual and could improve greatly through even the simplest form of automation.
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