SMC³ hosts its Connections and Jump Start educational conferences in order to bring together supply chain stakeholders for three days of informative panels and targeted, meaningful networking. But on the first two days of Connections 2018, there was plenty of talk of the NBA and of one star player in particular.
C.H. Robinson CEO John Wiehoff kicked off his Tuesday morning keynote speech with praise for the previous keynote speaker, NBA legend Jerry West, before talking a bit about his own association with the game. Picking up the basketball thread during the Q&A session following his talk, an attendee queried Wiehoff about the free-agency leanings of LeBron James. For the record, Wiehoff thinks James will end up in Los Angeles with the Lakers.
This digression may be the only time LeBron James has ever been referenced twice from the stage during an SMC³ educational event. (West called James “the smartest player who ever lived” during his comments on Day One.)
The rest of Wiehoff’s speech hit a range of perennial and new supply chain issues, making for a well-rounded overview of the market. He talked of autonomous vehicles, saying that driverless trucks will come to the market slowly but there won’t be door-to-door service during his career, and the driver shortage. (“It’s almost comical to me” that it’s still an issue, he said, noting that the shortage started creeping into conversations two decades ago.)
“There’s a very unusual and high level of activity going on in the industry,” he told attendees. Later, he noted, regarding truckload pricing, that “this is maybe the best pricing environment we’ve had in a long time.”
Wiehoff even strayed into talk of ELDs, which were the focus of a panel session on the opening day of Connections 2018. Saying that the data is good for the industry, he added a pithy remark: Every driver now has a Fitbit.
Speakers reserved the remainder of Day Two for in-depth analysis of transportation trends, providing attendees thoughtful insight into the key issues of the day.
During the “Simplifying the Bid Process Through Automation” breakout session, Art Nourot of The Hub Group went over the benefits of leaving behind spreadsheets and Microsoft Excel in favor of an automated RFP tool. He told the audience that less than one in three bid events is fueled by an automated solution, then went over the key players in the arena. The majority of the tools are specialized for truckload, and he said there wasn’t really a good all-in-one tool out there today. SMC³’s Bid$ense is his solution of choice for LTL RFPs for many of the reasons mentioned in a recent SMC³ Insider Blog post.
Nourot is such an advocate for automated bidding tools because these solutions allow users to mine historic bidding data. He explained that bids the Hub Group initiated in the past most likely have implications for current bids, so using a tool that helps leverage historic data saves time. It’s not impossible to use this type of data if a company is simply using spreadsheets for its RFPs, but it’s a lot more difficult.
His main advice for the session? Don’t wait. “Capacity’s tight; rates are going up,” he said, adding not to hesitate with bids. Bidding in this environment might not result in lower rates, but finding capacity in a tight market, or selecting a new carrier that can better optimize the client’s supply chain, is worth it.
Day 2 Media Coverage:
Journal of Commerce.