A FREIGHT FORWARDERS "ALICE IN WONDERLAND" EXPERIENCE

A FREIGHT FORWARDERS "ALICE IN WONDERLAND" EXPERIENCE

Sometimes in business, an “Alice in Wonderland” experience can change the future of your business.

Remember Alice and this tale? In short, this is a story about one’s perspective, what lives outside of that perspective, and how a change in perspective changes everything. 

Such was the story for DJR Logistics, a family run, medium sized successful freight forwarding business. DJR, a long time Globalink Network Member, had a great reputation and competed well in the marketplace, consistently bringing in new business. If you had to boil down their approach, it was one most of us grew up with; “great expertise and great service should win the day’”.  

The thought was that forwarding is a service business and being the best at service, was how you succeed. But Dennis Rowles, the founder of DJR, was uneasy. It felt to him, like the definition of “service” might be changing in ways that his company couldn’t quite respond to, in the ways they had always dominated in the past.

The industry was changing. Technology was playing a continuously larger role in all aspects of the freight forwarding business. While DJR had partnered with one of the largest and oldest industry software and technology suppliers for years, it didn’t feel like enough for the future. The word “digitization” was everywhere, practically promising everything, and yet that didn’t seem to be the answer either. 

So, Dennis, went out looking. Not unlike Alice. 

To be fair to our story, Dennis was out looking around for several other reasons as well, but all together it still brought him to the “Looking Glass”.  

Eventually Dennis sold DJR to Supply Chain Solutions (SCS), a much larger company.  During the transition, it became apparent to Dennis and his team that they had arrived in Wonderland, with eye-opening experiences they could barely handle.

You see, SCS is all about expertise and service, just like DJR was. However, years ago, it had the vision to compete on another level, as they fully embraced the value of data. Not only did SCS realize the value of data, but they understood that key role that integration contributes to the ability in unlocking data, analyzing data, and acting on it. 

As Dennis and his team came to know more about SCS, they encountered the depth and breath of this vision and commitment. At our 2022 Globalink and Global Value Networks Annual Meeting this past May, Anthony D’Ambrosio, former DJR Vice President and current SCS Vice President, shared with the group that SCS is partnering with over 10 different companies to help them unlock data and has invested in multiple data driven companies like Project 44, Ocean Insights, MuleSoft and others, to drive integrations and analysis.

As Anthony put it, “Our journey (DJR) was more about the concept of waking up to a much bigger paradigm because once we arrived in “Wonderland” we were immediately awakened to an information driven culture”. 

Anthony went on to say that, “by utilizing integrated technology solutions to power our integrated logistic solutions, comes the ability to make smart business decisions…. it’s all about helping our clients and customers around the globe to see what they never knew possible, from increasing revenue and cost reductions to improved quality and improved delivery.”

What’s the value of looking at Data as a competitive strength? Jim Ward, the Chairman of Supply Chain Solutions, shared a story from the early days of SCS. He recalled the time he and his team were in a room with their client’s traffic team, sharing some ideas that they found in the data they had gathered from operations. As they were presenting these ideas, the Client’s CFO was walking by and by chance heard the recommendations. As Jim tells it, the CFO walked into the meeting and directed the traffic team to move ALL their business to SCS, who had been splitting it with a competitor, and Jim said it tripled their business immediately.

So, what’s your takeaway from this Wonderland story? 

The old DJR guys had an epic journey from competing with service and expertise to an Alice in Wonderland experience leading them down the rabbit hole full of data, predictive analysis, and A.I. 

As the story with the CFO illustrates, it’s not all about expensive technology, it's about recognizing the value that analysis of key data offers to drive value. Any forwarder can start this at any time.

Most of us underestimate the data our business acquires on behalf of our clients. And, without considering how to unlock and capture that data, the power of the data is minimized and not nearly as powerful as it could be for you and your clients.

While digitization is almost a given these days, this concept of competing with data is certainly the next step for all of us. We all need to think in terms of unlocking the data, so we can then analyze it. But most importantly, we need to act on it. As Anthony said in his concluding remarks,

“All of us might want to consider this tale of things to come, because it's already here, so don’t be late, for a very important date!”