• TPMTech
  • February 23 – 24, 2023 | Hilton Long Beach

Eric Johnson

S&P Global

Senior Editor, Technology, Journal of Commerce

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 like procurement, execution, visibility, and payment. Johnson 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, D.C., area.

Sessions With Eric Johnson

Thursday, 23 February

  • 10:00am - 10:15am (PST) / 23/feb/2023 06:00 pm - 23/feb/2023 06:15 pm
  • 10:15am - 11:00am (PST) / 23/feb/2023 06:15 pm - 23/feb/2023 07:00 pm

    Managing a New Era of Supply Chain Risk

    If the pandemic taught shippers anything, it was that historic trade patterns, sourcing relationships and budget assumptions can’t always be relied upon. Sometimes, things get so crazy that it requires deep examination of existing supply chains. Much of the talk coming into 2022 centered around reshaping supply chains to focus on “just in case” over “just in time,” but that was always a false choice. Shippers don’t have the luxury of throwing excess inventory at a problem, especially as interest rates rose over the past year. The other big source of discussion centered around concepts such as near-shoring, friend-shoring, or even reshoring. While discussion of those strategies has been common in earnings calls, the data doesn’t indicate a massive retrenchment from globally oriented supply chains. Rather, shippers have realigned their global supply chains, to reduce exposure to risk. Behind all these initiatives is technology. Taking stock of current footprints, mapping out what-if scenarios, understanding supplier and logistics risk, adding continuous supply chain design capability – these are the core competencies shippers needed to build during the pandemic, and software is an essential part of those processes. In this opening keynote address at TPMTech, Julie Gerdeman, CEO of Everstream Analytics, will explain how the pandemic highlighted the importance of supply chain risk management, how her clients are addressing volatile economic environments, and how partnerships with other software vendors are building a critical mass for her business. 
  • 11:00am - 11:45am (PST) / 23/feb/2023 07:00 pm - 23/feb/2023 07:45 pm

    Dissecting What the Logistics Industry Actually Wants From Technology

    New research from 451 Research, a sister group of the Journal of Commerce within S&P Global, suggests the logistics industry isn’t quite so far behind in the adoption of technology as is often suggested. The research also highlighted the areas in which shippers and logistics providers see as key investment areas today and over the next few years. In this session, Mark Fontecchio, transportation research analyst at 451 Research, will discuss key findings from this research with Journal of Commerce Senior Technology Editor Eric Johnson, while two software vendors give their perspective on the state of the logistics technology market. 
  • 01:30pm - 02:00pm (PST) / 23/feb/2023 09:30 pm - 23/feb/2023 10:00 pm

    Understanding the Visibility Battleground: A Conversation with FourKites CEO Matt Elenjickal

    Venture investors pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the red-hot freight visibility market during the pandemic, but 2022 saw a rationalization of both funding and growth expectations in the market. That came as global supply chain disruptions started to ease in tandem with container volume demand. Yet freight visibility remains top of mind for virtually every shipper and service provider in the industry. It’s clear that the pandemic crystallized the need for better visibility software and data, yet the market remains far from a finished product. Shippers still bemoan data quality, completeness, and timeliness, and still pine for better normalization of data as cargo moves through various modes. Journal of Commerce Senior Technology Editor Eric Johnson will sit down for a frank discussion on where the market stands and where it’s going with Matt Elenjickal, CEO of FourKites, one of the more prominent visibility vendors to emerge in recent years. 

  • 02:00pm - 02:30pm (PST) / 23/feb/2023 10:00 pm - 23/feb/2023 10:30 pm

    Ocean Procurement: Can Tech Help Smooth a Naturally Bumpy Industry?

    The act of buying ocean capacity seems ideally suited to technology. With thousands of suppliers in the market — vessel operators and NVOs that resell capacity — and thousands of port pair configurations to manage, procurement is the ideal puzzle to throw at optimization software. And yet most logistics teams still talk about spreadsheets and rate sheets, and PDFs and email strings when it comes to buying space. Additionally, procurement teams still view buying contracted ocean capacity as an annual process, to be managed periodically when rates spike or drop. Wild swings in rates during the pandemic may have changed the picture permanently, pricing some shippers out of the market and highlighting the differences between the procurement haves and have-nots. As ocean rates drop to something approaching their historic norm, three technology providers catering to shippers will discuss how technology can help manage what appears to be an era of turbocharged volatility.  

  • 02:30pm - 03:00pm (PST) / 23/feb/2023 10:30 pm - 23/feb/2023 11:00 pm

    2022: The Year Smart Containers Became a Thing

    In April, Hapag-Lloyd made a historic announcement: The German carrier said it would be equipping its entire dry box fleet with physical sensors, a first for a container line of its size. Understanding the significance of the move requires an examination of all the potential benefits of being able to track an entire pool of assets across the globe, from Hapag-Lloyd's ability to understand exactly where its boxes are to it potentially providing a premium service to shippers. But progress in the development of lower-cost container sensors is happening on many fronts, from container-specific hardware makers such as Nexxiott, Traxens, Orbcomm, and GlobeTracker to more multimodal Internet of Things developers. There’s also the question of how data-based visibility providers —ones that rely on data from carriers or carrier websites —might fit into a world where containers themselves are generating location and condition data. This session will explore whether the industry — spurred on by Hapag-Lloyd's decision — has indeed crossed a threshold, and what it will take for smart containers to become more ubiquitous. 
  • 04:00pm - 04:30pm (PST) / 24/feb/2023 12:00 am - 24/feb/2023 12:30 am

    Latin America's Forwarding Tech Scene

    Hundreds of millions of dollars of capital have been plunged into the Latin American logistics industry the past few years, most in the form of backing tech-native third-party logistics providers. For the most part, the funding is designed to create digital powerhouses that can consolidate a fragmented industry heavily reliant on "local heroes." But as in other regions that have seen large-scale investment into logistics technology, the established set of incumbents don't have any plans to be wiped off the map. In addition, a few Latin America-based players saw the digital writing on the wall long before venture firms did and have been investing in digital operational and customer service capability for years. In this session, a group of existing players in the space give a lay of the land of how software is — and isn't — changing the nature of logistics in Latin America.

Friday, 24 February

  • 09:00am - 09:05am (PST) / 24/feb/2023 05:00 pm - 24/feb/2023 05:05 pm
  • 09:05am - 09:45am (PST) / 24/feb/2023 05:05 pm - 24/feb/2023 05:45 pm

    Keynote: Kuehne +Nagel’s View of a Chaotic Technology Environment

    A decade ago, the global 3PL landscape was pretty well established. The large top 25 players had large brand recognition, even if they collectively lacked the type of market share dominance players in other industries enjoy. But over the last decade, the competitive landscape has changed along multiple dimensions: the emergence of so-called digital forwarders — backed by big-name venture capital firms; the rise of e-commerce players moving into logistics services; and finally, container lines pursuing an integrated supply chain management strategy for shippers. The pandemic seemed to turbocharge these developments, adding massive amounts of capital to the industry in the form of more venture funding, container line profits and e-commerce driven revenue. Then there's the impact of the pandemic itself on 3PLs and their customers — from decentralized operations to huge spikes in demand, freight rates, and transit times — have had an indelible effect. And behind all these dynamics is technology, especially the role that things such as automation, visibility, and user interface, play in attracting and retaining customers. In this session, Kuehne + Nagel, one of the most high-profile companies in the industry, sill discuss how the last decade, and the last three years in particular, have shaped where and what the company invests in.

  • 10:15am - 10:45am (PST) / 24/feb/2023 06:15 pm - 24/feb/2023 06:45 pm

    A Frank Chat About ML and AI in Logistics

    The idea that artificial intelligence and machine learning are purely buzzwords and not actually meaningful ignores the reality that AI and ML are very much in play in the global logistics industry. AI and ML aren't considerations for tomorrow, but for today. Basic automation, in the form of robotic process automation, already is permeating a range of core processes for shippers and 3PLs. So-called intelligent automation, where a system not only performs a basic process but also makes a recommendation or decision, is on the near horizon. But a huge chasm remains between what exists and what the industry actually understands. In this session, logistics technology pioneer John Motley, CEO of LOG-NET, sits down with TPMTech Chair Eric Johnson to break down misconceptions about AI and ML.

  • 11:15am - 11:45am (PST) / 24/feb/2023 07:15 pm - 24/feb/2023 07:45 pm

    Forwarders' Attitude Toward Technology In and Out of the Pandemic: A Conversation with ECU Worldwide

    Gauging the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the global logistics industry can be tough based on anecdotes alone. That's especially true with the industry seemingly falling back into its recognizable patterns as the sky-high demand during 2021 and early 2022 has crashed back to earth. As forwarders and NVOs think about their strategic in a post-pandemic world — especially around technology investment and usage — there's hardly a player better suited to understand how those intermediaries actually think than ECU Worldwide. As the world's largest co-loader, the company has deep insight into the thinking of its forwarder and NVO customers. In this session, Philip Blumenthal, ECU's chief transformation officer, will discuss findings of a fall and winter study the company did specifically for TPMTech, to get a sense of how adoption among service providers might impact shippers' customers and capacity providers with which they work.

  • 01:45pm - 02:15pm (PST) / 24/feb/2023 09:45 pm - 24/feb/2023 10:15 pm

    Caught in the Middle: What Forwarders Really Think of Technology Investment

    Being a forwarder can sometimes feel like getting trapped in a room where the walls are closing in. On one side are shippers, customers demanding more services, faster response, and better data day by day. On the other side are asset-based capacity providers, the ones holding the physical space forwarders need to serve shippers. In between, forwarders are expected to be great partners to both the supply and demand side of the industry. All the while, they’re fighting to justify their existence to shippers wanting to control more of their logistics function and fighting to keep at bay asset-based companies that see supply chain management services as higher-margin, capex-free opportunities. Amid that tension, forwarders have a huge array of technologies to consider, from the large legacy providers that still dominate the space to upstarts promising to make operations more efficient and sales opportunities more plentiful. In this session, three forwarders will discuss how they navigate these challenges, and what their technology investment choices mean to shippers and capacity providers.  
  • 03:45pm - 04:15pm (PST) / 24/feb/2023 11:45 pm - 25/feb/2023 12:15 am

    Shippers Sound Off on Technology

    Shippers face a technology investment challenge that virtually no other entity in global logistics does. That is, a global importer or exporter is balancing its technology needs across a huge list of needs that spans every department in the company. An investment in logistics technology means a shipper has less to invest in sales, marketing, human resources, finance, customer service, and on and on. Some investments into logistics can impact multiple departments, but the problem for logistics teams is that global freight transportation wasn’t often seen as the highest priority, especially as freight rates stayed at low levels on a historical basis. That, of course, changed during the pandemic, when supply chain as a whole received unprecedented attention. The question going forward is whether logistics teams can channel that better understanding of technology into sustained technology investment. In this session, a transportation technology vendor and two of its shipper customers will discuss what systems, features, and tools matter most, and how access to investment for technology has changed during the pandemic. 
  • 04:15pm - 04:20pm (PST) / 25/feb/2023 12:15 am - 25/feb/2023 12:20 am