Innovation In the Supply Chain

I’ve been reading “The Innovator’s DNA,” an interesting book about how companies can set themselves up to be better through what they call ‘disruptive innovation.’ I don’t think this is an entirely new concept because there have certainly been plenty of innovations created my many companies, and those companies have thrived and grown. What’s different in this book is that it provides specific traits and actions that companies can take to find and develop people who can make a difference.

In the supply chain there is plenty of room for innovation even if they come along very infrequently. Probably the biggest innovation was EDI itself. Not the formal X12 spec, but the notion that there could be a standardized format for communicating information about orders and products. It could be argued that the VAN was the next big innovation, but to me the VAN was simply born out of the necessity to send EDI data between trading partners. The next and most recent innovation (though it wasn’t exclusively about the supply chain) was SaaS/Cloud based services. The idea of moving the complexities of managing EDI processes outside the walls of the company and into a shared environment where multiple companies could share the reduced costs is a stellar example of innovation.

3 Months Until Holiday Season and 3 Points to Consider

It’s hard to believe that the Holiday season is near – or that for those participating in retail, the season is already well underway. Is it too late to think about making this season better? If you haven’t already made the infrastructure and system changes you’ve been contemplating this year then the answer is likely to be Yes! But there may still be a few things you can do at this late date.

Be mobile ready
If you’re not yet ready for your mobile-enabled customers (and they’re bound to represent a good percentage) get at least some portion of your web site enabled for mobile devices.

Get your visibility nailed
It goes without saying that your holiday orders are already in process. That’s old school and would be a rookie mistake to be late on order processing. But there’s plenty that can go wrong between order and delivery, especially during the heaviest shipping volume time of the year.
Get ready to be the best
Even if you don’t expect to be at the leading edge of your digitization this year, make the commitment to be the very best in your category next year.

Find out about accomplishments and Fairpromise

Gata Labs supplies ‘ammo’ for taxis battling Uber, plus more Uber Around Europe

A Toronto-based startup is aiming to create the anti-Uber app for taxi fleets across Canada – and it’s looking to topple other big names on behalf of local businesses in other industries, too.

First launched in 2013, Gata Labs Inc. has been building Gata Hub, a platform that will serve small, local businesses by creating high-quality mobile apps for them. While the 12-person company wants to eventually expand to businesses like coffee shops and pizza joints, right now its chief customers are within the taxi industry, working with about 25 taxi fleets across the country.

For these taxi fleets, Gata Hub provides a mobile dispatching system on the backend, helping drivers get matched with rides. The system also shares information like GPS tracking, ride updates, ride failure rates, and a breakdown of the revenue that drivers bring in.


Gata Labs has also built an iOS app for consumers, helping them hail a taxi based on their location. Currently in beta, the app also works across all of the fleets that have partnered with Gata Labs, so when consumers travel to other cities, they don’t have to download other apps besides Gata Hub to hail a taxi.

Does this sound familiar? It should. The overall experience is basically what Uber is offering – but this is for taxi fleets who want to stave off the onslaught of Uber and protect their market share. So for Gata Labs, deciding to start with the taxi industry was a calculated move, as taxi service providers are now more open to embracing new technology, says Edward Yao, Gata Labs’ co-founder and CEO.

Meanwhile in Monaco:

Monte Carlo, Monaco skyline from marina
Monte Carlo, Monaco skyline from marina


Is this UBER Again?

Private hire vehicles – Traffic chaos brought things to a standstill coming in to Monaco as the private hire vehicle companies of the French riviera held a simultaneous go-slow protest along the basse and moyenne corniches coming in to the Principality. They were protesting the introduction of a €1800 badge to allow them in to Monaco this summer. It took an hour to get in from the A8 motorway. 

But the pathway to killing UBER is not a “bed of roses”


SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 20,2014 — /PRNewswire/ — Expensify has announced a partnership with Uber to debut SmartRides, a savvy new addition to Expensify Trips that reinvents the way people travel. Expensify Trips currently tracks a user’s hotel reservations and provides flight status updates for travel itineraries. With SmartRides, Expensify takes travel convenience to the next level: upon landing, an Uber can be automatically ordered to take the traveler straight to their destination, completing the “last mile” of a long journey in style.

Using SmartRides is easy: once the plane lands, users are prompted by the Expensify app to select their desired Uber service so that a driver will be waiting as soon as they reach the curb. SmartRides lets users skip the taxi line after a long flight, avoid the stress of finding a hotel in a new city, and move quickly from airport runway to hotel lobby with one simple tap.

“This is without question the most significant API launch in years, and it will be a decade before the dust has truly settled,” says Expensify CEO, David Barrett. “Uber’s vision is about obviating the need for personal car ownership; that may be be hard to imagine for many people, but SmartRides is an incredibly tangible and significant step in that direction.”

SmartRides is the first phase of a deeper integration between Expensify and Uber. In the coming weeks, Expensify will fully integrate with Uber For Business, which will allow customers to centrally bill and manage an employee’s Uber trips to increase transparency in company spending. Although it has always been simple to get Uber receipts into Expensify, this will further improve the process and make the already simple one-step process fully automated.

This is the next step in Expensify’s much anticipated progression towards ambient computing – the next evolution of cloud computing. Barrett believes the shift towards a Google Now-like experience is an extremely powerful one, and given the deep insight Expensify has, this partnership has the potential to greatly improve the traveling experience for people everywhere.

About Expensify

Founded by CEO David Barrett in 2008 with a dream of ridding the world of expense report frustration, Expensify does “expense reports that don’t suck!” With Expensify, create and submit your entire expense report from your smartphone or on the web to quickly get reimbursed directly to your bank account. Seamless integrations with all major accounting packages, rich mobile apps to log expenses on the go, and integrated direct deposit make Expensify the clear choice for business expense reporting and travel. Expensify is used by over 300,000 companies and 2 million users, reimbursing millions of dollars a day and processing billions each year.

About Uber Technologies

Uber is a technology platform that is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers.From our founding in 2009 to our launches in over 170 cities today, Uber’s rapidly expanding global presence continues to bring people and their cities closer.


Find out about better tools and Fairpromise

Is the New Retail Paradigm “BrickLine”?

As long as we’re making up words to describe retail strategies, how about ‘Brickline’ that is the combination of ‘brick and mortar’ and ‘online’. If we look around us, there is a natural migration to the combination of physical stores and online convenience. We’ve been calling it Omnichannel for a while, but I think it’s time for a change in terminology that better describes what retail customers want.

The transition is nothing new, but it is gaining traction as more retailers with widely distributed locations are beginning to better understand what their customers want and the fact that the diversity of their customers’ requirements are more easily met than they might have imagined. Retailers like Walmart are (of course) ahead of most of the rest of the industry. The company has been offering customers the ability to shop online or in the store; to purchase online or in the store; and to take delivery by picking up their purchases or having them delivered to their homes. Of course the fact that the company’s locations and distribution network are within a few miles of a great majority of US homes makes it easier for them to offer both pickup and delivery.

An extensive analysis from Inbound Logistics “New Retail Strategies: It’s a Store! It’s a Site! It’s a Warehouse!” dives into the range of issues and conditions that are changing. It cites a Forrester Research prediction that “E-commerce will make up nine percent of all retail sales in the United States in 2014, and 11 percent by 2018” in discussing the trend. What’s interesting is the role that logistics and supply chain technology are playing in this transition.

Read More About BrickLine


Pope Francis, An Amazing Person

Found a couple of interesting, and different, articles about Pope Francis.

Pope Francis has approval ratings any leader could envy: 88 percent of American Catholics think he’s doing a good job, and nearly three quarters of Americans in general view him with favor. What is he doing right?

To answer that question, business author Jeffrey A. Krames examined His Holiness’s approach from a leadership perspective, and the result is Lead with Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope FrancisThough a non-Catholic, Krames was inspired to write about the pontiff because he is the child of Holocaust survivors, he explains. “When I saw Pope Francis, I thought he was the anti-Hitler.”

1. Reach out to non-customers.

2. Embrace risk.

3. Reinvent your organization.

4. Be patient.

5. Get in the field.

6. Listen to diverse voices.

7. Put the organization’s goals above your own.

8. Lead by example.

Next is an interview:

Billionaire Ken Langone, the founder of Home Depot issued a warning to  Pope Francis during an  interview with CNBC which was published this past Monday. In the interview he said that wealthy people such as himself are feeling ostracized by the Pope’s messages in support of the poor, and might stop giving to  charity if the Pope continues to make statements criticizing capitalism and income inequality.

Mr. Langone described the Pope’s comments about a “culture of prosperity” as “exclusionary” statements that may make some of the rich “incapable of feeling compassion for the poor.”

 The billionaire, who’s a major donor to the  Republican Party, is currently working with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, to raise $180 million for the restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Langone said that he told the Archbishop about a wealthy donor who could give millions of dollars to the Cathedral project but was worried about the Pope’s “exclusionary” remarks.

“I’ve told the cardinal, ‘Your Eminence, this is one more hurdle I hope we don’t have to deal with. You want to be careful about generalities. Rich people in one country don’t act the same as rich people in another country,'” said Langone.

“The pope loves poor people. He also loves rich people. So I said, ‘Ken, thanks for bringing it to my attention. We’ve gotta correct, to make sure this gentleman understands the Holy Father’s message properly.’ And then I think he’s gonna say, ‘Oh, OK. If that’s the case, count me in for St. Patrick’s Cathedral,’” Dolan said.

During a speech in Brazil this past July, Pope Francis appealed “to those in possession of greater resources,” saying that they should “never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity. No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world.”

Why the King Streetcar Experience is so Awful


The King streetcar is the busiest of the Toronto Transit Commission’s surface routes. Every weekday, some 60,000 passengers use the line, making it more crowded than the Scarborough Rapid Transit and Sheppard subway combined. Despite transit riders drastically outnumbering motorists—approximately 20,000 private vehicles use the street on a typical weekday—the route during rush hour is a dispiriting, slow-moving, overcrowded mess.

Modern King Streetcars
Modern King Streetcars

So what’s the holdup? A newly released city staff report, commissioned in October to examine the feasibility of separated transit lanes on King, has some interesting answers.

 The single biggest cause of rush-hour “delay” (defined as the streetcar moving at under walking speed) is “passenger service time”: the loading or unloading of people. Put simply, half of all stoppages are caused by people entering or exiting.


It might seem absurd to lump boarding and alighting times in with traffic and other delays, because handling passengers is, after all, the streetcar line’s entire reason for being. But just because stopping for riders is a necessity doesn’t mean the process is ideal. On King, riders must board through the front door, pay the fare or present a pass and sometimes collect a transfer. They have to do this one at a time, slowly.

The new streetcars, which are currently scheduled to appear on King in 2017, are expected to speed up the boarding process by accepting electronic Presto payments and allowing passengers to enter through any of the four doors.

The second leading cause of rush-hour delay, the study says, is traffic lights. Although many of King Street’s controlled intersections are fitted with special equipment for prioritizing public transit, about 30 percent of stoppages were caused by red lights. Several intersections without transit-friendly technology are among the busiest: Spadina, University, Bay, and Yonge. Giving priority to streetcars at these lights would lead to delays on the intersecting streets, the report said.

Very old King Streetcars
Very old King Streetcars

Surprisingly, traffic congestion seems to result in fewer delays. The report says the worst congestion delays occur heading west during the afternoon rush, when almost three minutes of the average end-to-end trip (Broadview to Dundas West station) are spent stationary or barely moving due to the sheer number of cars, taxis or illegally parked delivery vehicles on the street.

So, are separated lanes for streetcars the answer? The report is staying mum, for now. The study found that streetcars reach the highest speeds between Jarvis and Berkeley streets, where the track is reserved for public transit during rush hour, but similar lanes between Dufferin and John appear not to have the same effect. The 1.5-kilometre downtown stretch between John and Jarvis, where there are no reserved lanes, moved the slowest, topping out at around 10 kilometres per hour.

City staff will study other measures for improving service, including tweaking signal priorities, extending rush-hour reserved lanes and stricter law enforcement. A follow-up report is due in 2015.

Original post by Chris Bateman

The Railroad Press, Railroad Model Craftsman and Railfan & Railroad join White River Productions

As you know, we just ran an article on the demise of Carstens Publishing (and some of your favorite magazines)
(Bucklin, Missouri) – White River Productions has acquired Railroad Model Craftsman and Railfan & Railroad magazines, effective September 1, 2014. The asset purchase agreement between Carstens Publications and White River Productions was completed Thursday, August 28, 2014. Carstens Publications’ final issues of the two titles are the June issues, and future issues will be produced by White River Productions. Staff assignments for the two publications have not yet been determined. Included in the agreement is the Books Division of Carstens Publications, which will continue under White River Productions. Not included is Flying Models magazine.

“We are excited to welcome these two Carstens titles to our family of White River Productions publications,” said Kevin EuDaly, president of White River
Productions. “These magazines are an important part of railroad publications and White River Productions looks forward to continuing their legacies.” Subscribers will be pleased to know existing subscriptions are to be honored and fulfilled by the new ownership. Fulfillment will be based on the number of         remaining issues in existing subscriptions. Due to the need to get the magazines’ cover dates current, a combined issue scenario will likely be employed, but the number of issues owed to each subscriber will be adjusted accordingly. “If you have six issues left on your subscription, you will receive six issues,” EuDaly said.

Advertisers should contact Mike Lindsay of White River Productions at 800-282-3291 or via email at ads@…ads@…, or ads@…. Mike will be managing advertising for the new titles.

About Railroad Model Craftsman

Railroad Model Craftsman magazine was founded in 1933 by Emanuele Stieri as The Model Craftsman, aimed at all areas of scale modeling. Ownership of the publishing company passed in 1934 to Charles Penn. In 1949 the name of the publication was changed to Railroad Model Craftsman, with a focus on the scale model train hobby exclusively. Hal Carstens joined the publishing firm in 1952 and purchased the company in 1963, renaming it Carstens Publications.


About Railfan & Railroad

Railfan & Railroad in concept goes back to 1968 when future Railroad Model Craftsman editor Tony Koester along with Jim Boyd pitched the idea to Carstens for a “railfan’s” magazine. By 1971 Jim Boyd had joined Carstens to work on Flying Models, and in 1974 Railfan was born as a quarterly publication. It went to six times a year in 1977, and monthly in 1987. In 1979 it was merged with the defunct Railroad magazine (which began in 1906 as Railroad Man’s Magazine), becoming Railfan & Railroad. The magazine was edited by Jim Boyd from its inception until his retirement in 1998, after which Steve Barry took over as Editor.

Carstens Publications’ final issues of these two titles are the June issues, and future issues will be produced by White River Productions. Staff assignments for the two publications have not yet been determined.

Included in the agreement is the Books Division of Carstens Publications, which will continue under White River Productions. Not included is Flying Models magazine.

With help from Penney Vanderbilt