We profile this year's The Logistics Awards Innovation judge, Professor Neil Ashworth, now ex-Chief Strategy Officer, Yodel and CEO, CollectPlus.
Neil was the boss at CollectPlus, the UK’s largest independent store based parcel network, having been at the forefront of digital developments in retail for over 15 years. Neil subsequently took accountability for Yodel's marketing and commercial functions in November 2017 through his appointment as Chief Commercial Officer, then Chief Strategy Officer until April 2019.
Before joining CollectPlus/Yodel, Neil worked as a business advisor to several blue-chip UK retailers and fulfilment businesses following a period at Tesco. Prior to Tesco, Neil held senior positions at Woolworths, Hallmark Cards and CWS Ltd. Neil is the immediate past Chairman of CILT (UK), a member of the Engineering & Logistics Staff Corps within the British military, and an Ambassador for Transaid.
He is a member of the Advisory Board at Warwick University Professional and Executive Programme faculty and on the Retail and Retail Marketing Masters Programmes at Cranfield University School of Management. He is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University, a Visiting Fellow at Warwick University (WMG) and is Professor of Operations Management and Information Systems at Nottingham University Business School.
Neil additionally holds the position of Independent Non-Executive Director at NISA Retail, and is Chair of their Audit Committee.
Which is the most innovative sector within logistics?
There are a number of innovations that are impacting the world of logistics as we move through 2019. Whether this is through Augmented or Virtual Reality, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Automation/Robotics, the Internet of Things, Drones or Autonomous Vehicles there are significant impacts being made across sectors.
However, I would pick out retail and last mile fulfilment as the area driving the biggest changes and creating the greatest impact. This is because these changes are touching all of our lives,every day - and in so doing, we are being touched by some of the biggest organisations on the planet as they search for small elements of competitive advantage that will give them a differentiator. Within this sphere, we are seeing trials of drones, widespread adoption of automation and robotics, the early trial of blockchain technologies, and widespread deployment of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
We are seeing exponential rates of change and technological adoption in the world of retail logistics, and I do not see the disruptive nature of this change easing in the next few years. Indeed, I see an increase in pace. If I was to call out one technology that will disrupt our industry and our lives in coming years, I would highlight blockchain. This has been identified as having the potential to do for transactions what the internet has done for information and therefore has the potential to be a driver of significant innovation.
Entries have now opened for this year's The Logistics Awards, to be held at the Vox, Resort's World Birmingham on Thursday 26th September, in conjunction with the International Materials Handling Exhibition - IMHX 2019 (September 24-27, NEC Birmingham). Some 13 award categories are eligible for entry, including Innovation - submit your logistics project, consisting of a 50-word project followed by an up to 1,000 word write-up here by Friday 10th May.
The Logistics Awards 2019 will like to thank the following partners: