A-List Insights is an interview series where we talk with industry thought leaders and experts about different topics surrounding logistics and supply chain – gathering their insights and experience firsthand.
In this segment of our Insight Series we feature Adrian Gonzalez, a trusted advisor and leading industry analyst with more than 20 years of research experience in transportation management, logistics outsourcing, global trade management, social media, and other supply chain and logistics topics. He is the founder of the popular industry blog Talking Logistics; founder and president of Adelante SCM, a peer-to-peer learning and networking community for supply chain and logistics executives and young professionals; and founder of Indago, a market research service that brings together a community of supply chain and logistics practitioners who share practical knowledge and advice with each other while giving back to charitable causes.
Adrian is a frequent speaker at industry events and conferences, is regularly quoted in industry publications, and is a recognized LinkedIn Influencer with over 250,000 followers.
This is the fourth of a five-part series interview with Adrian. To provide context to the current climate, the entire interview was conducted in late March 2020, in the midst of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. To get caught up, read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
You mean before Coronavirus? Or after Coronavirus?
Putting Coronavirus aside for now, in general what I, and every industry is different, but if there’s a common thread it’s that just about every industry is experiencing more demand in customer expectations. So the challenge is how do we meet those more demanding customer expectations, but do so profitably. At the end of the day, that is what keeps logistics and supply chain leaders up at night.
There are demands I mentioned earlier… for example, 5-day delivery used to be good enough, now it’s next day or same day. How do we do that, because there is no such thing as free delivery, and still be profitable? You have things such as on-time in full requirements that customers are placing on us… how do we do that in a profitable manner?
We have customers now because of e-commerce… maybe you’re a manufacturer and your retail customers want you to drop ship orders on their behalf… and you’ve never done that before … so, there are so many different customer demands.
There are those customer demands we as consumers are placing on retailers and manufacturers; and then the retailers are placing on the manufacturers; and the manufacturers are placing on their suppliers, and the list goes on. At the highest level, that is what keeps them up at night.
As supply chain and logistics professionals, the environment we’re operating in is much more competitive. The customer experience is becoming a differentiator — customers are demanding, the requirements are becoming much more stringent, and the tolerance for failure is becoming smaller and smaller.
How do we continue to meet these requirements and stay in business, or be able to do it in a much more cost-effective way than our competition? And in a more consistent and reliable way than our competition?
Additionally, a lot of companies, certainly before the current situation with the pandemic, their logistics folks were struggling finding people because of the low unemployment rate, and at all levels… in the front lines, in warehousing, drivers and retaining them.
There’s also a lot of competition at the white collar level finding talented folks and retaining them, so that is also part of this: a recognition that people are still a big part of this equation. How do we find and retain the best people across our whole organization to continue to move forward?
Absolutely, absolutely. Whether it’s introducing automation in the warehouse or data scientists …the types of skills that companies are looking for today in their logistics professionals, and need to have to succeed and be effective leaders, is different than it was 20 years ago. And it’s how do you continue to train and retrain some of the folks you already have. So I agree.