This Week in Logistics News (April 9-13, 2012)

Should I be concerned that Opening Day for the (1 win, 5 losses) Red Sox falls on Friday the 13th?

In more important news…

Volerro’s announcement, which I commented on earlier this week, is another step forward toward creating “The Social Supply Chain.” Are you ready? I’ll be addressing this question with supply chain executives next month at Manhattan Associates’ Momentum Conference and in June at The Logistics & Supply Chain Forum. I hope to see you there, but you can get the conversation started now by posting a comment and sharing your viewpoint on this topic. You can also read all of our social media related postings here.

Along with social media, the other hot topics in supply chain and logistics these days are business intelligence and mobility, which were the focus of announcements made this week by Oracle and SAP, respectively.

Oracle introduced two new applications – Oracle Procurement and Spend Analytics for SAP and Oracle Supply Chain and Order Management Analytics for SAP – “to extend intelligence to SAP Materials and Management and SAP Sales & Distribution to reduce procurement and spend costs and to improve supplier performance and supply chain efficiency.”

Meanwhile, SAP plans to acquire Syclo, a provider of enterprise mobile applications and technologies. According to the press release:

Syclo has more than 600 customers in 39 countries across all major asset and mobile-intensive industries. An established SAP partner, Syclo offers mobile apps that help companies extend business systems to a wide range of mobile devices and users. Syclo’s expertise and technology offers a mature set of applications that complement SAP in key mobile areas such as enterprise asset management (EAM), field services, inventory management and approvals/workflow, and represents a significant growth opportunity for SAP.

What do you get at the intersection of social media, business intelligence, and mobility? Incredible opportunity for innovation. But as is always the case, technology is way in front of what companies (and their people and processes) are ready to adopt right now. Change management remains the sand in the gears of innovation…but the gears keep turning nonetheless.

UPS and FedEx have Europe on the brain these days. UPS announced its acquisition of TNT Express last month, and FedEx fired back this week with an acquisition of its own, Polish courier company Opek Sp.z o.o. (Opek). According to the press release:

This acquisition will give its FedEx Express business unit access to a nationwide domestic ground network with an estimated $70 million in annual revenue and 12.5 million shipments annually.


Opek, a family-owned company, was founded in 1994 and has built a well-established network which covers the entire country. Opek operates an automated hub in Lomianki, near Warsaw, and additional hubs in Lodz and Katowice. In total, the company operates 44 stations throughout Poland. More than 1,200 employees work for Opek and the company engages more than 1,300 contracted drivers.

Facilitating the movement of goods between the US and its NAFTA partners, which continues to rise, is another focus area for logistics service providers. This week UPS announced UPS CrossBorder Connect, “a ground freight service between the United States and Mexico designed to significantly ease heavyweight freight supply chain challenges for companies investing in cross-border trade.” According to the press release:

UPS CrossBorder Connect is a contractual service that utilizes the trucking network that supports UPS’s North American Air Freight service. That network has been connected with trusted carriers in Mexico at eight important points along the U.S.-Mexico border. By integrating UPS’s brokerage capabilities, the service helps companies with the complex brokerage process and is designed to help reduce customs delays associated with border regulations, inspections and lengthy paperwork. UPS also provides the option of bonded movements through the border to help enable faster crossing of goods.

But the big picture outlook for global trade this year is less rosy. According the World Trade Organization, “World trade expanded in 2011 by 5.0%, a sharp deceleration from the 2010 rebound of 13.8%, and growth will slow further still to 3.7% in 2012, WTO economists project. They attributed the slowdown to the global economy losing momentum due to a number of shocks, including the European sovereign debt crisis.”

I don’t know why, but “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” just popped into my head. A good tune to keep in mind while watching the economy in the weeks ahead…and the Red Sox.

And on that musical note, have a great weekend!

(Note: Oracle, Manhattan Associates, and SAP are ARC clients; Volerro is a Logistics Viewpoints sponsor).