Until recently, 3PLs could demonstrate innovation by introducing process improvements, adding technology, improving execution, or offering new services. But shippers no longer see these as truly innovative, instead seeking disruptive innovation: a new product or service idea that when implemented significantly disrupts a market and/or value chain by simplifying, automating, generating value, or reducing costs.
Many 3PL-shipper relationships are not set up to support innovation. They are tactical rather than strategic, offer insufficient visibility and are limited by metrics, contract terms, and risk mitigation strategies. Most 3PL respondents (89%) believe they are ready to innovate, but just 53% of shippers agree.
The research revealed that it takes truly collaborative and strategic relationships among all partners to develop the types of disruptive innovations needed to solve the vexing challenges facing today’s supply chains. Current industry consensus is that 3PLs and shippers can facilitate supply chain innovation by leveraging organizational and technology-focused capabilities. Organizational drivers include fostering collaboration through structure, relationship governance, and embedding innovation into the organization. Technology drivers include advanced IT and mobile solutions, big data and analytics, and social media.