- Transportation and logistics company Ryder has seen notable growth over the past year and a half.
- Ryder EVP and CMO Karen Jones told Insider that growth has stemmed from technological developments.
- Jones revealed three ways marketers can boost technology innovation at their organization.
- This article is part of the “Innovation C-Suite” series about business growth and technology shifts.
Ryder, the Miami-based transportation and logistics leader, has several primary businesses. These include truck leasing and management, dedicated transportation services for clients, as well as supply chain management and fulfillment solutions. Over the past year and a half, all areas of the company have seen exponential growth, Ryder EVP and CMO Karen Jones told Insider. Jones attributed the progress to a strong focus on developing new technology products that meet customer needs, such as e-commerce, electric vehicles, an asset-sharing platform, and digital supply chain capabilities.
“Of course, nobody wanted a pandemic, but it did serve as an inflection point as far as changing the way we operate and responding to shifting consumer habits,” she said. “It spurred the growth of many innovative technology capabilities.”
At Ryder, Jones was the C-suite leader who volunteered to lead an executive team charged with identifying, evaluating, deploying, and investing in emerging technologies. But she says all marketing leaders can help drive the development of innovative technology products.
“For CMOs, it’s a great time to spread your wings and do things that are different because they are customer-facing, technology-oriented and future-focused,” she explained.
These are three ways Jones suggests marketers can take action to boost technology innovation at their organization:
1. Help the organization focus on the customer and technology.
“Marketers are able to think about what customer needs are not being met,” Jones said. “If you start there, it’s really hard for other parts of the organization to talk you out of things because, at the end of the day, marketers build and develop things that improve the customer’s experience and ultimately lead to greater revenue.”
Marketers that want to get closer to technology and understand their industry’s digital disruption may consider connecting with technology accelerators that work with startups. “A CMO might see a customer need that could be solved by a cool technology available through a startup,” she said. As long as marketers are looking out for the best interest of where things are really headed in the industry, the CMO can be the right leader that isn’t just focused on day-to-day operations, she added.
2. Help hire marketing product owners who understand business and technology.
Who are the right people to develop innovative technology products? “Everyone thinks that’s IT,” Jones said. “But you need someone who can sit with the business and with IT, who really understands the customer requirements, the business requirements and translates that to IT so what you need gets built.” That person, she explained, might be in marketing.
“Marketing product owners bring a level of understanding of what the market and the customer requires,” she said. However, the required skill sets aren’t easy to find, even within marketing, which was traditionally about making great ad campaigns and brochures.
“Today, you need someone who has a business, customer, and IT background, as well as a deep level of understanding of the company, and can stitch that all together,” she said. “That’s difficult to find.”
3. Help choose the right areas to focus on.
In a constantly-changing industry landscape, it’s essential to choose the right areas to focus on in terms of technology innovation, said Jones. However, it’s also important to be agile: “We could wake up tomorrow and there could be another area we hadn’t really anticipated or an offshoot of an area we’re working on,” she explained. That means staying on top of what is happening in the industry so you can build the right capabilities and deliver appropriate solutions.
“For Ryder, I think you’ll continue to see e-commerce grow, so it’s important for us to build in that area around customer experience and the fulfillment side,” she said. “Also, the world of electric vehicles and autonomous cars is certainly on a rapid pace, and I think the asset sharing platform we’ve built is going to continue to be a huge priority for us.”
Overall, Jones said, the opportunities for new revenue streams and business models in the transportation and logistics space show no signs of slowing down. “I don’t think it ever stops,” she said. “We are going to continue to find the right applications and develop those technologies that give customers even more insight into the movement of all their goods.”