Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

CH Robinson to invest $1bn in technology

Steve Rogerson
October 1, 2019

US logistics provider CH Robinson plans to invest $1bn in technology over the next five years, according to president and CEO Bob Biesterfeld.
At an industry event in California, he announced the company’s largest investment in innovation, technologies and talent, supported by recent in-depth customer research to shape the future of the logistics ecosystem.
CH Robinson has committed to investing $1bn in technology over the next five years, doubling its previous $1bn investment in technology over the last ten years. With more than 1000 data scientists, engineers and developers, the company is continuing to invest in global talent in this critical area.
“We are a platform-driven company with technology built by and for supply chain experts, powered by our information advantage,” Biesterfeld said. “It’s when these tools are leveraged by the smartest and most relentless experts who really understand and are committed to our customers’ business, that we create extreme value in the supply chain for our clients’ benefit.”
Speaking at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals Edge conference in Anahein, California, Biesterfeld explained how big data and digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics, were having a profound impact on the supply chain marketplace. He discussed why only those who leverage both technology and talent would compete and win on supply chain in the future.
“CH Robinson solves logistics problems for companies across the globe and across industries, from the simple to the most complex,” Biesterfeld said. “We put the customer at the centre of everything we do, listening, understanding their needs and using our expertise to solve their most complex logistics challenges.”
During his remarks, Biesterfeld also shared specific feedback and actionable insights from more than 3000 shippers, both domestic and international, highlighting their evolving priorities and needs. Among some of the research findings:

  • Technology is more important than ever, with 88 per cent of shippers who contract to purchase freight saying technology is extremely or very important when choosing a logistics provider.
  • Visibility and predictive tools are external logistics providers’ most important assets, with 65 per cent of customers saying they either have or are planning on implementing real-time visibility and insight tools in the next two years.
  • Local expertise is key, with 83 per cent of shippers saying that having a logistics partner with local and global expertise is essential to their business needs.
The results from the customer research demonstrate how important new capabilities, visibility into supply chains and deep expertise in local and global needs are. Biesterfeld highlighted the findings and identified trends in the industry to demonstrate how CH Robinson would continue to invest in innovation to help its customers.
Despite new tools and technologies, people will become more important to the supply chains of the future. CH Robinson’s research showed how shippers value local expertise and, as technology accelerates and global sourcing grows, the ability to connect them and understand how supply chains really function will be critical.
As the world becomes more connected, businesses are accessing the global market like never before, and Biesterfeld said they needed the kind of global expertise and experience that CH Robinson provided. The kind of complexity that global commerce creates is very challenging, he said. Having a partner with a global network of local experts who can act as an extension of a customer’s team is a significant competitive advantage.
In the global economy, even the best ideas cannot win without first winning on supply chain, he said. One recent study found nearly 80 per cent of companies with high-performing supply chains achieve revenue growth greater than the average within their industries. That can’t happen without great infrastructure.
“We’re excited about the future and look forward to continuing to innovate,” Biesterfeld said. “We are leading the way forward in logistics, addressing customer needs and laying the foundation for the next generation of tools and processes that will change not only how supply chains function, but ultimately change how our world is connected.”