LeanLogistics held its annual user conference in Chicago, IL last week. I had not attended a Lean conference in the past, so I was excited to see what the conference would be like. In his opening remarks, LeanLogistics Chief Commercial Officer Chris Timmer mentioned that this was the largest conference they had ever put on. Based on the energy and size of the crowd, I certainly believe it. The theme of the conference was Discover · Disrupt · Deliver. This theme certainly resonated in this changing transportation environment. As Timmer pointed out, companies need to discover the changes that are occurring in their business. Then they have to disrupt the model. And finally, they have to deliver results. I particularly like the use of deliver here, as that is what LeanLogistics customers are all about – delivering goods from point A to point B.
On the theme of Discover, Timmer made note that there are a few key components to their business, and each of these components has an element of discovery. LeanLogistics has built cross-functional teams to help drive the vision for each of these components. The first component is the customer. Here, the company needs to figure out if they are servicing the customer properly, and if not, what more needs to be done. The second component is the product. Simply put, is the product usable enough and is it driving results for the customers? The third component is the people. Discovering the right roles for the right people is integral to growth. And finally, the fourth component is the network. Can LeanLogistics continue to expand its network and increase value? These components are all about discovery; and Timmer challenged the audience to put these same questions about their organizations at the forefront of planning.
The most prevalent theme of the conference was Disrupt. In the digital age, disruption is at the heart of business. Disruptive technologies are turning industries on their heads, and LeanLogistics Chief Technology Officer Chris Johnson discussed the roadmap of change for the company. From a product strategy standpoint, Johnson highlighted five key areas that will bring about change and disruption. The first disruption is to overhaul the user experience and effectiveness. This change is designed to make applications more user friendly and intuitive. The second change is to enable actionable intelligence. The actionable intelligence model uses data and analytics to make a decision, and then execute on the decision. Actionable intelligence, as Mike Madden put it, is what changes business performance. Companies need to analyze the data that results from execution, and feed that back into the tool. It is cyclical, and always a learning opportunity. The third change to the product strategy is to have a unified workflow for all modes of transportation. Adding rail and air cargo will complete Lean’s multi-modal capabilities. The fourth change is the innovation lab. This incorporates customer feedback into their product development. The final change in the product roadmap was what Johnson called a canopy of visibility. This canopy is all about providing visibility throughout the organization into the application. Additional enhancements on the horizon include a parcel project, enhanced business intelligence, and real-time execution tracking.
Dr. Lawrence Burns, Professor of Engineering Practice at the University of Michigan, gave a fantastic presentation on the future of transportation. This presentation really struck the Disrupt theme as well. Burns’ big question to the audience was will the future of transportation be an evolution or a transformation? Turns out it was a bit of a trick question, as he sees it as a faster evolution and transformation. While Burns gave us a history of the automobile and transportation, he looked at the disruptive nature of self-driving vehicles as a key component to the future. Specifically, from a freight transportation standpoint, he pointed out that driverless vehicles are safer, cost less, and can make faster deliveries. Driver fatigue is not an issue when there is not a driver. Fuel savings and longer drive times reduce costs. Without maintaining safe drive-time laws, the daily service area of an autonomous truck is four times larger than it is today. This results in higher throughput and more integrated supply chains.
The final theme for the conference was Deliver. LeanLogistics has built its TMs and actionable intelligence products to deliver increased efficiency and reduced spend for its customers. The enhancement to the product suite as well as the future-looking roadmap are all geared towards delivering a better user experience for customers. It is also about making sure that customers can deliver their products on time. The key performance indicators that most companies are using include on-time performance, on-time deliveries, tender acceptance rate, and OS&D claims, among others. LeanLogistics is making product enhancements to ensure that customers are delivering on these key metrics, but also looking beyond these standards towards new ways of measuring success.
Discover · Disrupt · Deliver. This was more than just the theme of the conference; it sums up what I (and probably many other attendees) got out of the conference as well. I discovered how LeanLogistics is preparing for the future by building off its current offerings to meet the changing nature of the logistics industry. We discussed disruptive technologies and how they are an integral part of changing with the times. And the conference delivered insightful content and chances to learn. And I even got to go bowling.