March 2001 | Commentary | Checking In

Is Logistics Boring?

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Recently an assistant editor left Inbound Logistics to take a job with a consumer publication. Reason? Even though she was a young, bright, talented editor, she said she found logistics "boring." That brought me up short. I never found logistics boring. In fact, changes in the transportation industry, especially these past five years, have been anything but boring.

It's exciting to see:

  • The new ideas that have been adopted in the logistics function—the growth of integration, the shift from push to pull, the acceptance of collaborative logistics, which lets companies share resources, investments and information. This reduces duplication of business process, enhances visibility and creates wealth and opportunity that all can share.
  • Businesses in the United States spending $50 billion a year less on logistics than they would have spent at 1980 logistics expenditure rates.
  • Functional silos coming down, where logistics can impact not just transportation but enterprise-wide functions such as marketing, finance and production.
  • Logistics becoming a pathway to corporate management.
  • The explosion of mergers and alliances that open exciting new vistas of opportunity as logistics managers have more service choices now than at any other time.

Beyond exciting, logistics is core. It speaks to fulfilling the wants and needs of people, solving the practical problems of satisfying millions of customers around the globe, on time, efficiently. Logistics may not be glamorous, but it is real.

Here's an example. We had a little snowstorm in the Northeast a few weeks ago and the powers-that-be closed many major highways to tractor trailers, citing safety reasons. That, combined with media-driven hysteria about the "storm of the decade," left many grocery stores with empty shelves. Logistics meets elemental needs. Is starving boring?

Writing and editing a consumer magazine may be more glamorous. But to me, it is superficial. It's nothing like writing about the connective sinew that keeps millions of people, thousands of companies, scores of countries growing and happy. Logistics is not boring to me.

Is logistics boring to you? If it is, tell us your reasons why in an e-mail to yes@inboundlogistics.com. If logistics is not boring, tell us why in an e-mail to no@inboundlogistics.com. We'll report the results. We may even send them along to a new editor at a certain consumer magazine.

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