The 16th edition of the conference dealt with the question of how cities will cope with the increasing demand for parcels in the future and with the role of innovation in today's logistics world.
WHU alumnus Maximilian Schaefer, Managing Director of InstaFreight, introduced the conference by talking about the most important innovation drivers in the logistics industry. Schaefer reported on his own experience in the Russian market, where over 90 percent of payments are made in cash and more emphasis is placed on customer loyalty. Schaefer considers this model to be far more sustainable and durable. Based on this example, he compared start-ups, which focus primarily on networks and their customers, with large companies, which focus their daily work on increasing their efficiency, correct analyses, and short-term goals. Schaefer argues that large companies are not agile enough to develop custom-built products. That is the reason why they cannot expedite innovation. Therefore, start-ups such as InstaFreight can gain additional market shares at the expense of established companies in the long run.
Stefan Stroh, Chief Digital Officer of Deutsche Bahn (DB), spoke about how his company is planning the path into the digital future. From his point of view, the biggest challenge is not technology. For many companies, it is more important to change their way of working and especially their way of thinking concerning the customer as well as more dynamic and agile methods and better cooperation with other companies. To achieve this, DB has already launched over 400 digitization projects. Furthermore, DB is currently investing in several start-ups in the US, Israel, and China. The first company-wide digitization initiative began in 2014. In 2019 and 2020 the company expects its first profits of these investments. A cloud-centric IT platform is a core element of DB's digital strategy.
Markus Reckling, who is the Managing Director of DHL Express in Germany and who works in this company for almost 20 years, spoke about how urban logistics are handled in today's world. Reckling believes that the current urbanization trend implies many opportunities and challenges. Among these challenges are for instance high traffic loads or environmental pollution. Reckling proposes Big Data, flexible solutions as well as automation and digitization as a solution approach. For large volumes of data, DHL is currently working on real-time route planning and vehicle tracking to take proactive action.