14 December 2018

Talking heads: 10 minutes with Thomas Griese, CTOO

In the second article of our talking head series, we speak to Thomas Griese, Carousel’s European Chief Technology and Operations Officer (CTOO), about his new role since joining Carousel earlier this year.

Could you give us a brief overview of your role?
As CTOO I am responsible for building the Carousel network, supporting our ambitious acquisition strategy for continental Europe, and for taking the strategic lead on Carousel’s rolling IT road-map.

Keeping pace with technology is such a critical part of any logistics solution in today’s fast-paced environment, and we are right on the cusp of launching our new service and technology platform, Gateway, so it’s a very exciting time for me to be joining Carousel.

Also, as a Key Account Manager for one of the group’s largest clients, I keep a close eye on their needs and over-arching strategy. It’s my job to know what’s going on; monitoring future trends both in the logistics sector and in our clients’ respective markets. One topic that’s high on my agenda right now, is predictive communication and the role things like Blockchain will play in the supply chains of the future.

Carousel uses a variety of partners to fulfil its solutions for clients. How do you select the company’s partners and check they’re up to scratch?
As with our employees , the cultural fit of our partners is the most important part to ensuring they are ‘up to scratch’. Culture and attitude are two things that we take very seriously at Carousel and something we know, from our clients, sets us apart from our competitors. It’s why we protect it so fiercely.

As part of that cultural fit, all our trusted partners – whether they are operational or non-operational – must understand and buy-into our ethos of doing whatever it takes – and more. Carousel was founded on this ethos, and it’s the way we ensure we meet and exceed our clients’ expectations every day.

Our partners not only need to demonstrate a high service level themselves, and be specialists in whatever they do, but also support us by providing the high-performance services that we need. Being technology-enabled is a key part of this, but it’s also about understanding where we are going as a business and what part they play in helping us to get there.

How are client demands driving logistics innovation in the way that Carousel operates?
No matter the industry, all our clients want the same thing; transparent, pro-active and even predictive information. They need this type of information firstly to make their day-to-day easier and more efficient, and to give them more visibility so they can be more strategic in their planning. They want flexible, yet sustainable logistics services that meet their demands completely, without the need to compromise.

As such, whenever we look to make an investment, we always double check that the advantages it will bring, are aligned to what both our existing and future clients want. We do this by listening to our clients, and to their customers too, as it’s important we’re all aiming for the same objective.

But our clients aren’t the only catalyst for change; because we drive that too. We closely examine market intelligence and bring discussions to the table – we don’t just wait for them to ask us the questions! We’re focused on value-added services and that’s about proactively responding to new influences in the market before our clients even think to ask us about it.

Why is a partner network the key to delivering flexible solutions that meet your clients’ needs?
The market is very changeable at the moment, and responding to market needs quickly, is critical for all our clients, no matter the sector. Our trusted network means that we are, by our very nature, an asset-light business, and that makes us very well suited to today’s logistics market. The benefit of being asset-light is that we can immediately adapt our network according to our clients’ needs and work with them to flex services, as their needs change.

It also means we’re well-placed when it comes to growth. Scalability is often a barrier for traditional providers, but we can not only add and change our services, but also roll-out complete solutions to new regions quickly. This is a massive advantage to our clients who are all growing at pace.

How is technology, driving logistics innovation and how does Carousel use technology to make sure the service you provide to clients is of the highest standard?
We continually seek out feedback from our clients, and it’s this feedback that provided us with the proof of concept to develop our new service and technology platform called Gateway.

The portal has been built around our clients and encompasses an integrated CRM and case management system, as well as tracking and tracing information captured either by a smartphone application or from the scanning devices of our partners. This gives our clients complete visibility and the data from the system can be then viewed and manipulated in real time.

Today, technology in logistics is as much about innovation as it is about longevity. By developing an agile platform that utilises an existing infrastructure – i.e. smartphones – we not only make the user experience much easier and flexible, but we can also continuously improve the system in line with feedback, and without our clients and partners needing to invest in future software.

How do you ensure, that the service you deliver to clients meets their requirements?
Communication is key! We work very closely with our clients and love immediate feedback. We have regular meetings with them to closely monitor service levels and see where tweaks can be made.

Clients can give instant feedback via the portal on the website and we also run a client survey which measures our Net Promoter Score (NPS), every quarter. Last year, we scored an NPS of 71 – which is a fantastic number to achieve – but there is still room for improvement! We use all this feedback to show us where we can continue to enhance our services for the better.

As well as improvements, we’re doing even more to give our clients the tools they need to make their lives easier. One way we’re doing this is with our new service and technology platform Gateway, which creates performance reports for clients and partners, exactly how they want them, and even lets them self-manage their data and reports too.

What is the top priority for Carousel in the next 6-12 months?
We continue to be on a very fast-paced growth strategy, as we continue to scale-up our operations in Europe. To support us, one of our top priorities will be the roll-out of our new service and technology platform Gateway, and the other is on growing our teams in Spain, Poland and Germany. With another acquisition likely to be on the horizon soon, the next few years are expected to be very exciting, so watch this space!