Over the past year, C.H. Robinson has talked to 3,000 shippers and 5,000 carriers about technology, innovation and their business needs moving forward. What the company learned from those conversations has prompted them to invest $1 billion into technology over the next five years.
The global logistics provider has invested $1 billion into technology over the past 10 years, so this new commitment essentially sets the company up to double its rate of investment in half the time. The growing investment is reflective of the industry’s evolving needs.
When talking to shippers, C.H. Robinson discovered that companies are valuing technology now more than ever before. Almost 90% of surveyed shippers told C.H. Robinson that technology is “extremely or very important” when choosing a logistics provider.
The company’s research also revealed that visibility and predictive tools are some of the most important offerings a third-party logistics company can provide. According to a media release, 65% of customers told C.H. Robinson they either have or are planning on implementing real-time visibility and insight tools in the next two years. This means that offering these solutions is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity.
“At this point, visibility and transparency are a given. That is table stakes,” C.H. Robinson President and CEO Bob Biesterfield said. “Everybody expects real-time visibility, not only in motion but also at rest. They want real-time global inventory visibility. Beyond that, it is about combining people and technology in order to address issues of reliability, control and cost.”
Biesterfield made it clear that C.H. Robinson values people, and an increased focus on technology does not mean the company is working to eliminate the human element. In fact, he believes that people will be even more important to the supply chain of the future.
“I’ve said in the past that when we were a $1 billion company, we had 1,000 people. When we were a $5 billion company, we had 5,000 people. When we’re a $30 billion company, the goal isn’t to have just 5,000 people,” Biesterfield said “It is just to ensure that we don’t have 30,000 people, to decouple that linear line between what is headcount and what is revenue.”
One big way C.H. Robinson bridges the gap between technology and people is by utilizing local expertise. This is especially important for a global company, and C.H. Robinson’s research revealed that 83% of shippers consider having a logistics partner with local and global expertise essential to meeting their business needs.
“[C.H. Robinson] has a unique combination of technology and experience across multiple verticals and industries. We have access to local talent across the globe,” Biesterfield said. “It is technology plus our people that makes us the intermediary that sits between customers and carriers and adds value in a slightly different way than others.”
While shippers are often thought to embrace technology at a quicker pace than carriers, the fleets C.H. Robinson spoke with also expressed a desire for technology that allow them to improve their efficiency.
“When we asked the carriers what the most important thing to them was, it started with people. It was important for them to have a person to talk to who understood their business. They didn’t want an anonymous voice in a call center,” Biesterfield said. “The second thing was access to freight. These are businesses that need to improve their yields and their returns on their assets. Access to freight, continuity of freight and understanding of network are all important. The third thing that came up was technology to weave it all together.”
Biesterfield noted that only a small number of carriers showed interest in applications offering standalone digital freight matching services. Instead, the majority of carriers C.H. Robinson talked to were looking for overall connectivity to make their lives simpler and more efficient.
As a global company working with more than 124,000 shippers and 76,000 contract carriers, Biesterfield believes C.H. Robinson can help provide the connectivity carriers crave while also keeping their own customers top of mind.