Logistics expert says workers should not fear supply chain digitalization
The digitalization of global logistics and supply chain operations should not automatically make workers fearful their jobs will be jeopardized, a leading consultant said Wednesday.
Harry G. Broadman, a partner at the global consultancy Berkeley Research Group LLC, told the audience at FreightWaves’ F3: Future of Freight Festival in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that there “can be harmony between logistics technology and job creation.” Jobs will be available in a digital-driven logistics world, but it “may not be the exact same job” that the worker was accustomed to.
About one-third of Broadman’s practice focuses on logistics. Broadman, who was the lead U.S. negotiator for the General Agreement on Trade and Services from 1990 to 1993, also serves as an expert witness in international trade disputes.
Broadman said it will fall to governments to invest in retraining workers for roles in the increasingly digital supply chain.
Digitalization applications will become increasingly mainstream in supply chain management, Broadman said. However, the scenario of a fully fluid and frictionless supply chain spanning thousands of miles and touching dozens of stakeholders is still far off in the future.
“We’re a long way” from being fully interconnected, Broadman said in a phone interview after his Wednesday morning remarks.
Greater visibility through digitalization will improve scheduling and align delivery pricing more optimally with scheduling, he said.
Broadman said there needs to be a rethink of the delivery relationship between customer expectations and the prices charged for those services. He said there’s no reason a company like Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) can’t offer product discounts to customers in return for a delivery in a week after ordering rather than delivery in one to two days.
While customers should pay a premium for expedited delivery, they should also have the choice to trade delivery speed for product cost reductions, he said.
“Today’s environment is riper than ever” for these types of pricing models, Broadman said in the phone interview. However, he does not know of many companies who widely practice differential pricing based on speed of delivery.