Eric Johnson

S&P Global

Senior Editor, Technology, JOC

Eric Johnson is the JOC's senior editor, Technology, where he leads coverage and analysis of technology’s impact on global logistics and trade. Johnson regularly reports on how shippers, carriers across all modes, and logistics companies use software, as well as new concepts impacting core freight transportation processes such as procurement, execution, visibility, and payment. He is a regular presenter and moderator at industry events and webinars. Prior to joining the JOC in May 2018, Johnson spent 13 years with American Shipper in a variety of roles, most recently covering logistics technology and leading the production of a series of benchmark studies on the logistics industry. Johnson has a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s in international business from the University of Leeds, UK. He has lived and worked in Southern California, the UK, and India, and now resides in the Washington, DC, area.

Sessions With Eric Johnson

Thursday, 24 February

  • 01:00pm - 01:15pm (PST) / 24/feb/2022 09:00 pm - 24/feb/2022 09:15 pm
  • 01:15pm - 01:55pm (PST) / 24/feb/2022 09:15 pm - 24/feb/2022 09:55 pm

    Keynote Address

    On one end of the world of logistics, technology is an explosion of startups aiming to find their niche in the ever-complicated realm of global supply chains. But on the other end are large, all-encompassing software suites seeking to provide global shippers with all the tools they need to manage their end-to-end supply chains. For those large companies, the pandemic has provided a perfect opportunity to double down on consolidation through acquisitions of complementary niche providers and even direct competitors to build scale. This period has seen companies such as Blue Yonder and LLamasoft be acquired for billions of dollars, but no company has been busier than E2open. The Austin, Texas-based software vendor has acquired Amber Road, INTTRA, Cloud Logistics, and, most recently, BluJay Solutions in the last three years. It also went public in the first half of 2021. CEO Michael Farlekas has been at the helm during this phase of massive growth and transformation. E2open now sits atop a portfolio of solutions that were household names in the logistics industry and has a wealth of opportunity in front of it. Farlekas kicks off TPMTech with a keynote discussion and fireside chat to discuss the impact of his company’s recent moves, and why technology is so critical to the future of logistics.
  • 01:55pm - 02:25pm (PST) / 24/feb/2022 09:55 pm - 24/feb/2022 10:25 pm

    Is Global Multimodal Visibility Achievable?


    Real-time cargo visibility is no recent curiosity — companies have been building track-and-trace solutions as long as the internet has existed. What has changed during the pandemic is that predictive visibility and associated analytics have gone from luxury ambition to entry-level expectation. Also new is a more concrete realization that global supply chains are built upon shipments that encompass a number of modal legs, and that visibility of individual legs is far less useful than visibility across those legs. But that doesn’t mean the challenge of stitching together visibility across all modes and geographies has been fully met. Gathering and contextualizing data from every moving vehicle within every origin and destination is no simple task. So, given the demand for true multimodal visibility, it’s time to take stock of where suppliers are in meeting that demand. There is no shortage of capital being funneled into the space, with companies such as project44 and FourKites leading the way, but a host of newer entrants getting funding as well. This session will explore where we are and where the industry will go with an analyst, investor, and leading vendor in the market.

  • 03:15pm - 03:45pm (PST) / 24/feb/2022 11:15 pm - 24/feb/2022 11:45 pm

    What's More Important, the Plumbing or the Customer Interface?

    Logistics is an inherently unseen industry. The multitudes working in the background to physically move goods and coordinate the movement of those goods have functioned under a veneer of opacity and complexity. But things have been changing gradually over the past decade, as a horde of technology providers have focused on areas such as transparency, user interface, and overall customer experience. Those modern ideals often run headlong into the existing realities of logistics, whether entrenched legacy software, physical constraints or cultural hurdles around adopting new technology. This panel will explore a key question underpinning this evolution: What is more important to the progression of logistics technology, the user interface or the underlying plumbing that connects modes, regions, internal teams, and external partners? As customer interfaces become more sophisticated, does that mitigate or accelerate the need for investment in the underlying plumbing? 
  • 04:15pm - 04:30pm (PST) / 25/feb/2022 12:15 am - 25/feb/2022 12:30 am

    Where Tech and People Converge to Unravel US Import Flows

    There are broadly two camps when it comes to managing the flow of international cargo: one sees technology as the solution, generally under the guise of automation of a process; the other uses people to manage via a services-based approach. In between is an emerging emphasis on the convergence between “team and technology,” where technology isn't the only answer to all problems, but where scaling across millions of inbound containers worth of cargo is not achievable with people alone. This quickfire chat with EDRAY CEO Reade Kidd, a former logistics executive with The Home Depot, will explore this concept and how it might present a path toward navigating mounting complexity in US import gateways. 
  • 04:30pm - 04:45pm (PST) / 25/feb/2022 12:30 am - 25/feb/2022 12:45 am

    How Can Ports Be Better Digital Nodes?

    As international companies in the container shipping industry merge, reform, and re-create themselves as supply chain operators, rather than dedicated shipping, stevedoring, or logistics groups, the impact on the nature and direction of work itself in these areas is transforming dramatically. We're now at the turning point where workflows in the respective supply chain industry silos are being merged and forced to change. Ports have a responsibility and an opportunity to create the collaborative environments necessary to push for cross-industry standards, allowing exciting innovations happening in agriculture technology, sustainability, smart cities design, and logistics technology to address critical supply chain issues. JOC Senior Technology Editor Eric Johnson will go one-on-one with Peter Creeden, a liner shipping veteran who in 2019 co-founded Future Ports 2050, an initiative to determine where government, universities, and industries could jointly address the problems facing the wider supply chain industry.
  • 04:45pm - 05:15pm (PST) / 25/feb/2022 12:45 am - 25/feb/2022 01:15 am

    The Next Wave of Forwarding Technology

    When Flexport arrived nearly a decade ago, first with big ideas and then big venture capital investments, it heralded an era in which the world of forwarding started to gather more attention than ever. What has historically been a sector that has thrived on problem-solving, customer service, and surviving in volatile rate environments, is now adapting to a world where technology isn't a catchphrase but a base requirement. Investment into a range of digitally native forwarders such as Flexport, Forto, Zencargo, and Beacon presaged a counterwave of investment into forwarder-enabling technologies, including those focusing on improved user experiences and automation. This session will explore a trio of companies that have focused on empowering existing forwarders with modern technology to adapt and compete in a high-stakes environment. 

Friday, 25 February

  • 09:00am - 09:40am (PST) / 25/feb/2022 05:00 pm - 25/feb/2022 05:40 pm

    3PL Focus: Is Logistics Destined to Be a Fragmented Industry?


    The third-party logistics industry is awash in potential solutions, a confusing landscape for buyers but also a good gauge for an intrinsic aspect of the industry: inherent fragmentation. There are tens of thousands of logistics providers around the world for a reason: The shippers and transportation providers those 3PLs connect appreciate a local touch and regional expertise. It’s why even the world’s biggest 3PLs, publicly traded companies with multibillion-dollar market caps, have anything but dominant market share positions. It’s also why forwarder alliances thrive, and why there’s little barrier to entry for upstarts. This session will explore whether the global logistics industry will continue to be a deeply fragmented industry and whether the role technology plays is prolonging that fragmentation or helping to consolidate it, with perspective from two forwarders hyper-focused on how technology helps their businesses.

  • 10:10am - 10:40am (PST) / 25/feb/2022 06:10 pm - 25/feb/2022 06:40 pm

    How Can Technology Resolve the D&D Challenge?


    The assessment of detention and demurrage has long been a thorn in the side of cargo interests, predating the pandemic but made worse by crippling congestion in key US container gateways. The fees are meant to be sticks, not carrots, to incentivize shippers and their transportation and logistics partners to expedite the pickup of laden containers at terminals and the return of empties to those terminals. But is this process working as it should? Shippers and drayage operators perceive the fees as a revenue stream for shipping lines and terminal operators, while the carriers and terminals see some shippers using terminal space and containers as de facto inventory storage. The fragmented nature of entities and solutions at many US ports doesn’t help, particularly in the vital Los Angeles-Long Beach complex. This session will explore the extent to which technology can resolve these structural problems to make cargo flow more efficient and expedite container returns, especially during critical high-volume periods. Speakers include a drayage transportation management system provider, a visibility provider, and technology vendor that specializes in helping cargo interests find appointments at container terminals.

  • 11:45am - 12:15pm (PST) / 25/feb/2022 07:45 pm - 25/feb/2022 08:15 pm

    What Needs to Be Standardized in Global Shipping?


    Three years ago at TPM, Mediterranean Shipping Co.’s Chief Digital & Information Officer Andre Simha laid out a vision for the container shipping industry to adopt common processes and data format standards to clear a path for digital innovation. The thinking was that if shipping lines made those foundational elements of their business common across all competitors, it would make them all easier to work with, and allow the industry to flourish through the development of new solutions, whether built by the lines themselves, 3PLs, or standalone software providers. Where does the industry stand three years later, and two years into a pandemic that has seen an acceleration in the uptake of digital solutions? The results are mixed. The Digital Container Shipping Association, where Simha is chairman, has been steadily releasing a range of standards through an open-source approach, but not all lines, including its own members, have fully embraced those standards. What’s holding the industry back, and in what functional areas will adoption of standards bring the industry closer to the vision that Simha described? In this session, Michele Sancricca, head of worldwide technology for supply chain and logistics at Amazon Web Services, is joined by Bill Dobie, CEO of the communication software provider Sedna Systems, to discuss the constraints and opportunities of driving true standardization in an industry that has long fought such initiatives.

  • 01:15pm - 01:45pm (PST) / 25/feb/2022 09:15 pm - 25/feb/2022 09:45 pm

    Digitization and a Path to Less Fragile Supply Chains: A Fireside Chat With CEO Chris Kirchner


    After a tumultuous 2021, there was a rush to suggest that supply chains needed to trade a focus on efficiency for a focus on resiliency. Essentially, supply chains needed to be less “just in time” and more “just in case.” That’s too simplistic a view, and also minimizes the importance of running lean. Three decades of supply chain management have honed the ability to be efficient, and the need of the day is also to be resilient — not in lieu of being efficient but in addition to being efficient. The path to managing that balancing act lies in digitization and the ability to accurately and quickly capture data to make decisions. This fireside chat with Slync CEO Chris Kirchner will discuss this balancing act, and how shippers and forwarders should view technology in a market where they seem to have waning leverage.

  • 02:15pm - 02:45pm (PST) / 25/feb/2022 10:15 pm - 25/feb/2022 10:45 pm

    Can Global Logistics Reach Electronic Documentation Nirvana?


    For an industry that has struggled to shed the notion that documents are still sent by fax, the long-rumored progression from paper documents to electronic versions has been painfully slow. At a time when multimillion-dollar homes can be bought and sold via DocuSign, it's hard to imagine that basic shipping and customs documents still change hands in paper format. For many, a move to email attachments — digital versions of paper documents — is an aspirational state. The pandemic, and the remote work it forced upon the global logistics industry, has not yet been the catalyst for major change. That’s not to say progress isn’t underway. An array of technology providers, incumbent, and startup alike, is guiding the industry toward digitization. And there is progress in areas such as electronic bills of lading, where Mediterranean Shipping Co., Zim, and ONE have all invested. But what will be the catalyst to push the industry at large toward more adoption of electronic documentation?

  • 03:30pm - 04:00pm (PST) / 25/feb/2022 11:30 pm - 26/feb/2022 12:00 am

    Fireside Chat: Logistics as a (Shared) Service

    It’s fair to say that, for better or worse, logistics operations have historically functioned on a proverbial island. As the function of managing logistics operations has evolved from a cost center to value driver, the way logistics teams procure and use technology still tends to be isolated from other departments. That even goes for those departments where there is a tangible connection, from finance to customer service to sourcing to customs compliance. But there’s a line of thought that says this will change over the next decade, that logistics will be seen as part of a bigger whole in ways that allow for investment in technology that logistics operations personnel alone don’t always have the leverage to execute. This one-on-one discussion with Matt Tillman, CEO of accounts payable automation startup OpenEnvoy and previously the founder of Haven, will focus on what this process will look like, how buying personas in logistics may change, and the role that automation and minimally disruptive technology plays in this evolution.
  • 04:00pm - 04:30pm (PST) / 26/feb/2022 12:00 am - 26/feb/2022 12:30 am

    No-Code and Low-Code: The Future of Logistics Applications?

    If there’s a single development that may impact the breadth of how logistics software is used over the next decade, it’s the rise of low-code and no-code applications. Simply put, no-code and low-code tools are designed to give average users — those without any training in programming or coding — the ability to customize workflows, processes, and outputs in a way that hasn’t been possible in previous generations of enterprise software. This is primarily done by putting a visual skin on complex systems and system integrations that put powerful tools in the hands of novice users. The logistics industry is at the early stages of this shift, and this session will explore practical ways that such tools are likely to impact areas such as freight procurement and transportation management, among other possible use cases.
  • 04:30pm - 05:00pm (PST) / 26/feb/2022 12:30 am - 26/feb/2022 01:00 am

    Fireside Chat: Mapping the World's Supplier Relationships

    Every global supply chain relies on an intricate web of suppliers, partners, and commercial counterparts, from the procurement of raw materials and outsourced manufacturers to logistics and transportation providers. Maintaining a detailed database of these connections is complicated, especially as new partners are added, depending on new products, new markets, or sourcing shifts. But shippers need to understand this web of connections to comply with customs regulations. Forwarders need to understand their own connections, as well as those of their customers, and customs agencies need to understand risk on a real-time basis. This session will explore the perspective of one of a handful of technology providers tackling this challenge, and what it may mean to the world of global trade. 
  • 05:00pm - 05:15pm (PST) / 26/feb/2022 01:00 am - 26/feb/2022 01:15 am