K+N unveils ‘next-generation’ business plan


Kuehne + Nagel has set its sights on leading the transformation of the freight transport and industry in the digital age through the deployment in the coming months of a new ‘next-generation’ business development plan.

The ‘KN+NextGen’ plan was unveiled this week by CEO Detlef Trefzger at a Capital Markets Day presentation in London. It succeeds the logistics and freight forwarding group’s ‘Focus + Excellence’ initiative launched three years ago and comes in response to changing consumer behaviour and the speed of technological developments that “are transforming traditional go-to-market approaches and logistics operations”. 

Trefzger claimed: “With its strong foundation and culture as well as the entrepreneurial spirit, of local decision-taking and global standards and systems, Kuehne + Nagel is well positioned to lead the transformation (of the industry).”

Launched internally a couple of months ago, Trefzger described KN+NextGen as “a framework of initiatives across all (K+N) business units and functional units”, that had “three dimensions: customers, technology and people”, and would allow the company “to further enhance and expand its global leadership in the transport and logistics industry”.

It would transform an industry rightly perceived as “complex, non-standardised, supply chain disruption solving oriented, and still performing below its customers’ expectations,” he underlined. “But we can fulfill our customers expectations and do much better,” Trefzger vowed. “We will set a new standard for delivering customer excellence.”

KN+NextGen will incorporate new technology platforms such as ‘eTouch’, “which addresses the commodity, high-volume shipments, ‘no special requirements’ sector, with an online quote, book, track and invoice approach”, Trefzger noted.

“With eTouch, we are revolutionising the commodity segment of the transport and logistics market further. Fast-changing consumer behaviour, technology, connectivity, productivity as well as government regulations are driving an ever-increasing complexity for all industries.

“Easing up this complexity, managing this complexity, on behalf of our customers through standardised interfaces and systems is an approach that comes very much with our technology solutions.” He added that technology was “a game changer for productivity improvements, service scope expansion, and customer excellence” and “the answer for the next couple of years to deal with markets’ transformation”.

KN+NextGen also focuses on transforming the skillsets of people working in the transport and logistics industry. “We will hire new specialists coming from online sales and marketing, process engineers, data experts and scientists,” Trefzger revealed.

“By blending forwarding and logistics know-how with these new skills and expertise and training, and qualifying our existing experts in new technology, we are preparing the next generation of forwarders. We call them ‘e-warders’ because they will have a lot to do with data and predictive analysis.

“While they will not programme algorithms themselves, they will use that data to improve the supply chains of our customers.”

Trefzger said the aim was “to create superior value through customer excellence and expand into new services”, a recent example being the launch of a service dedicated to the transport and specialised handling of lithium batteries.

A key element in KN+ NextGen was extending the company’s services to encompass what he termed the value chain. “This means taking a much broader responsibility for our customers’ supply chain, including goods information and the flow of cash. We will add additional services to our service portfolio based on technology and data, in order to drive a much deeper integration with customers and their value chain processes.

“We will not take over product development and liability, nor marketing and sales. These will stay with the customer. But the value chain expansion between these two functions will be one of our growth drivers with regard to solutions and create additional and substantial GP (gross profit) growth.”

K+N said the company sees “promising prospects for strong growth resulting from new dynamics in underlying markets”.

With KN+NextGen succeeding the Focus + Excellence initiatives as of 2018, the company said it would “exploit the opportunities offered by digitalisation”.

The company’s ambition is also “to continue to gain substantial market shares in the years to come”, alongside expanding its service offering “through new technologies and the creation of data-driven value chain services”. It said acquisitions had supported the company’s growth initiatives in the past “and will be an important option to accelerate the KN+NextGen programme”.