Talent: One Of The Biggest Challenges Facing Logistics Providers in Today’s Market
Q&A With Nathan Johnson, CIO of Werner Enterprises
What is the biggest challenge facing CIOs in the logistics industry?
Talent is one of the biggest challenges facing any logistics service provider in today’s market. As we raise the bar to meet and exceed our customer’s service levels, the ability to recruit, train and retain talent is paramount. We’re investing heavily in tech to bring quality operators and the resources to support them. From fleet management to maintenance, from professional drivers to accounting – IT is working with every team in our group to build a more collaborative, productive environment and the appropriate tools to support the Werner culture in an everchanging landscape.
Who is driving innovation in logistics technology?
At Werner, we see the drive for new capabilities equally driven by customers and logistics service provider, with a focus on providing more visibility and information on shipments combined with improved productivity and safety throughout the supply chain.
What role does technology play in allowing businesses to differentiate themselves?
We believe the information needs to move faster than the freight and view technology as a core catalyst to achieving this goal. To that end – we’ve invested $1 billion over the past two years upgrading our fleet, including the latest tech, to improve our driver experience, customer visibility, and productivity/environmental performance of our fleet.
What impact do you think the influx of logistics tech start -ups will have in the industry?
The excitement and interest in IoT and logistics tech is fueling a broader recognition of the importance of these tools and the near-term potential. IoT investment will drive transformational innovation that will have an unprecedented effect on safety, environmental and operational efficiencies. We’re already seeing an impact across the global supply chain with companies leveraging IoT to manage assets, cargo and process that is enabling ‘supply chain visibility’ at a new, exciting level.
What role do customers play when implementing or developing new logistics IT?
Our customers continue to push the envelope – partnering with us to streamline processes, improve integration/visibility, and drive continuous improvement. It’s the core of what we all do as logistics professional and, for me, what excites me about being a transportation/logistics service provider.
How are you attracting top technology talent to your organization?
We’re pushing forward with hybrid cloud and IoT strategies, big data/analytics initiatives, leveraging devops/continuous deployment and many other exciting initiatives in our organization. As we talk with our candidates, interns and the broader market we see a growing excitement for these types of opportunities and continue to invest in our existing and new staff to provide them an exciting, dynamic environment to further their careers.
Considering recent cyber attacks, what steps can companies take to limit the risk as much as possible?
We’ve taken the position to design security in from day one. Our information security team is heavily involved from the start of our planning and engaged in every initiative our IT Services group delivers. We’ve also invested in education across the organization and established critical visibility of the needs and priorities of infosec to our executive team and board.
Which new disruptive technology do you think will have a dramatic impact on the industry over the coming 12 to 18 months?
We believe the explosion of IoT and the ability to leverage this with Big Data will have enormous impact on our planning and operations. Werner pioneered ELD/in-cab solutions decades ago and we’ve been leveraging this information in our operations for years, but the new tools and capabilities with talented user community is driving an expansion of business analysis and predictive analytics that will only improve as we expand the use of machine learning and other new tech in this space.
If you had an unlimited budget, what would you look to automate?
So many potential opportunities – I’d look to balance efforts across our customers and professional drivers. Given our focus on improving the driver experience, I’d accelerate our optech investments in truck and trailer fleets and fast-track our roadmap on complementary mobility solutions. From a customer perspective, I continue to expand our visibility to shipment and related information, broadening our integration tech stack while tailoring to fit the unique needs of our diverse customer base.
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