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June 11 2018

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10 The Journal of Commerce | June 11 2018 Cover Story By Eric Johnson SUPPLY CHAIN ANALYSTS for the last decade have predicted the rise of the chief supply chain officer, or CSCO, and with it the ability to invest in broad global logistics software suites championed by those C-level leaders. But a funny thing has happened in the last few years even as the CSCO hasn't become quite so ubiqui- tous: On-demand, subscription-based software providers have begun to partner more than ever, creating networks of logistics capabilities that often mimic those promised by the broader single suites. This development in effect has negated the need for global shippers to confine major software buying decisions to a C-level role because the adoption of a browser-based, pay-as-you-go piece of software gives those shippers access to a wealth of tools beyond the platform in which they have invested. The expansiveness of these software networks puts into sharper focus how shippers have struggled persistently to adopt the technology necessary to better control freight costs and manage inventory, as highlighted by recent earnings calls in which shippers have bemoaned the volatile costs of freight and inability to manage excess inventory. Shippers have long been told to think of investment in logistics software as a strategic decision, one that touches multiple parts of an enterprise and one that can mitigate costs or even drive them down. Yet, buying decisions on logistics software still largely remain the province of what is often referred to as "the business," meaning those directly responsible for the freight transportation or logistics function at their com- pany, a range of former shippers, software providers, and 3PL execu- tives told The Journal of Commerce. The role of CSCO Although some software pro- viders have begun to target higher echelons of decision-makers within the shippers they sell to, a funda- mental issue remains: Many movers of freight lack a role that oversees the supply chain as a whole, such as a chief supply chain officer. For instance, fewer than a quarter of manufacturers have such a role in their organization, according to 2016 research by supply chain software provider GT Nexus. "The chief supply chain officer role has been talked about for years, the idea that someone would take responsibility for this across an organization," said Eric Lindberg, a longtime logistics sales executive who's worked for MIQ Logistics, Livingston International, and, more recently, two logistics technology startups. "Some organizations, a few, have made that leap. But the reason it hasn't happened more is that the CEO, the CFO, the COO,

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