North American Supply Chain Executive Summit: Data-Driven Logistics

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending the North American Supply Chain Executive Summit, which took place at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center outside of Chicago. It was my first time attending the show, and it provided many opportunities to discuss the challenges and opportunities in supply chain management with executives from some of the most successful companies in the world.

In many ways, it’s similar to other summits that we’ve attended in that it has great sessions that are very relevant to the supply chain industry. What makes it different is the pre-arranged, one-on-one meetings that we have with some of the supply chain executives that are struggling with the usual issues of lack of visibility and challenges they face in attempting to turn their shipping data into shipping intelligence.

Breaking Away From Supply Chain Silos

Businesses are always changing. Whether it’s new product lines, new locations or newly acquired companies, it’s expected that the supply chain absorbs these new responsibilities and continues to operate at peak efficiency. This is often a challenge due to the siloed approach that many companies have with their logistics operations. Today, many supply chain executives are trying to break these silos down to get their people to collaborate and combine the company’s shipping data so they have one holistic look at all the relevant information.


The summit’s keynote address was delivered by Michael O’Brien the VP Planning & Commercialization at Starbucks. During his address he detailed the necessary steps to creating a world class supply chain:

  1. Align supply chain strategy to business strategy.
  2. Design your organization for performance.
  3. Build an end-to-end process architecture.
  4. Build the right collaborative method.
  5. Use metrics to benchmark and achieve supply chain performance.

His opening keynote resonated throughout the entire conference. When looking at the definition of a world class supply chain the two that stood out to me are numbers three and five. Number three involves integrating the data together to make sure you have a full picture of what’s happening in the supply chain. Then, with step five, you have to make sure that you are measuring the right values to ensure success.

It’s impossible to build a truly efficient supply chain without one integrated dataset that is clean and standardized. I talked to several people that said they had plenty of data but they didn’t have easy access to it or they didn’t trust its validity. In addition to this lack of visibility and quality data, almost everyone we talked to mentioned internal IT constraints that are preventing them from making change even if they had good visibility and data. Solving these problems is exactly why I started RateLinx. Our mission is to empower our customers with truly smart data that can be easily accessed and integrated into their existing transportation management systems.

Moving Supply Chains Into the Digital Age

My biggest takeaway from this year’s North American Supply Chain Executive Summit is that corporate supply chain and logistics practices are finally moving into the digital age. Companies now understand having good data that they can turn into intelligence allows them to make better decisions faster. Having a world-class supply chain will create competitive advantage, and companies are doing everything they can to get there. At RateLinx, we’re proud to be able to help them on their journey.