Supply Chain Matters highlights a published survey report that provides important observations on the existing state of domestic and international logistics visibility levels in North America.

This report particularly points to existing disparities, challenges and trust factors needing to be addressed. We wanted to highlight for our readers our view on the most insightful findings regarding the state of visibility along with the likely causation factors.


The Survey

Reuters Events, in collaboration with logistics technology provider project44 recently released the 2023 Logistics Visibility Survey Report. The stated aim of this report was to better understand the perceived existing level of visibility gained across logistics and transportation channels.

The survey, conducted in March 2022,  involved upwards of 350 logistics executives across North America. Reportedly, more than one-third of survey participants represented the logistics services provider segment while upwards of 27 percent reportedly represented the retail and manufacturing sector. The remaining segment reportedly consisted of technology solution providers, media and industry associations.

In this Supply Chain Matters commentary, we wanted to highlight for our readers our view on the most insightful findings regarding the state of visibility along with the likely causation factors.

Current State of Logistics Visibility

This report’s findings point out a disparity of perceptions among different stakeholder groups.

As an example, respondents in the logistics services segment (3PL’s, 4PL’s) rated the existing visibility across their logistics and transportation networks as an 8.1 out of a total score of 10. Those in the retail and manufacturing sector rated existing visibility as 6.3 out of 10 for domestic visibility capabilities, while 5.1 out of 10 for international scale activities. Regarding this latter context, survey authors noted that this low ranking is attributed to the more heightened level of complexity in international logistics.

Supply Chain Matters spoke directly with Chris Kobus, Senior Vice President of Growth at project44 who indicated that indeed, with international logistics, there are multiple mode handoffs that make total visibility more challenging. He indicated that a lack of consistently defined data standards across international logistics provides added challenges. Kobus further reinforced that higher quality of data vs. quantity of data should be the real objective.

In our Ferrari Consulting and Research Group’s 2023 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains, we also noted that a heightened need for data standardization and more universal definitions across logistics modes remains a challenge toward achieving end-to-end visibility of physical goods.

Kobus qualified that rather than standards, a universal language of data definitions that can narrow the focus is more meaningful: “Data democratization is not going anywhere at this point, but will get more powerful down the road.”


Confidence Levels

This report indicates that when end-to-end logistics visibility within the next 18 to 24 months was posed, logistics services providers were optimistic, expressing a reported confidence level of 7.1 out of 10. However, retail and manufacturing respondents expressed a confidence level of 5.9 out of 10. The report explains:

In the retail and manufacturing space, almost half of all respondents- 44.6%- considered collaboration a barrier. This rose to a significant 58.8% in the logistics services provider segment.”

The report points to lack of industry collaboration” as the biggest barrier along with transparency and trust in this disparity of confidence levels.

Kobus observes that retailers and manufacturers often lack the resources to drive adoption, that visibility across logistics is a human problem driven by resistance to change and the lack of a true leadership champion who desires to take the risk toward achieving added logistics visibility.

In our discussion, Kobus additionally pointed to the people-process-technology dimensions of change management or digital transformation, as is increased collaboration among all parties along with adoption among different constituencies.


Important Report Conclusions and Takeaways

Among the most important report takeaways was indications that while there remains a need for industry wide change, a lack of confidence and inter-organizational trust, and the perceived lack of a return on investment are existing barriers.

Throughout the next 18-24 months, the manufacturing and retail sector will continue to be cautious. End-to-end visibility will be a challenge for all industries, but more so for these sectors, which may rely on multiple modes to complete delivery.

The authors cite that the need for transparency and trust is high in senior manager priorities, but senior managers also recognize the lack of in-house resources in techniques and tools.

This report concludes with the statement:

Overall, supply chain is still in the infancy stages of digitization. As digital adoption continues, global supply chains will unleash a wave of transformation across all global tiers.”

The full Reflections on the State of Logistics Visibility in North America Survey Report 2023 can be complimentary downloaded and viewed as this designated web site. (user registration information required)

We add the observation that from our Supply Chain Matters lens, this survey data may well point to the need for added simplification on the part of retailers and manufacturers of product material flows that avoid the complexities of international logistics. The other clear perspective is holding logistics services providers feet to the fire in driving universal data language definitions and avoiding the zeal to view data visibility as an added source of concurrent revenue flows.

While technology has the promise to enhance end-to-end visibility, change management and stakeholder alignments are continuing barriers needing to be addressed.

Bob Ferrari


© Copyright 2023, The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.