How XPO’s new CIO retains tech on observe in trucking

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In control of expertise on the LTL freight firm XPO, CIO Jay Silberkleit contends with two perennial challenges for tech leaders: aligning IT with enterprise targets and securing C-suite help for modernization.

CIOs management the biggest share of annual budgets in lots of firms, and thus play key roles in shaping enterprise, in accordance with a latest Citrix survey of three,300 executives.

IT spending could even assist firms hedge towards financial downturn. However speaking the worth of IT spending to CEOs, CFOs and different C-suite leaders can nonetheless be a problem.

“A number of the aim is to create that partnership with the enterprise,” Silberkleit instructed CIO Dive. “As a CIO, it’s important to accomplice with the enterprise to assist them perceive the place expertise can resolve issues.”

When Silberkleit stepped into the job in early November, he had a notable benefit in that regard. His boss, CEO Mario Harik, spent a decade as XPO’s CIO and is intimately aware of the corporate’s tech operations.

Image of XPO CIO Jay Silberkleit.

XPO CIO Jay Silberkleit.

Permission granted by XPO


Harik was one in all former CEO Brad Jacobs’ first hires, when the corporate was in its start-up section. Silberkleit’s tenure additionally dates again to XPO’s early days as a disruptor in freight brokerage, a enterprise that entails connecting shippers with haulers.

“I used to be Mario’s third rent,” he mentioned.

Harik and his staff engineered and applied a digital platform to assist finish customers make extra knowledgeable choices, observe shipments and cut back prices.

In addition they centered on integrating backend operations as XPO grew quickly via a collection of greater than a dozen acquisitions, topped off by a $3 billion deal for Con-way in 2015, which made XPO one in all North America’s largest gamers within the less-than-truckload house.

“As you’ll anticipate in a startup surroundings, we had been creating applied sciences, writing the code after which occurring to enterprise structure as a result of, as we moved into acquisitions, it grew to become vital to have extra governance on how we construct software program and what the architectures would appear like how all of those completely different enterprise items would discuss to one another,” Silberkleit mentioned.

A brand new XPO

The C-suite realignment that elevated Silberkleit to CIO came about amid main adjustments within the enterprise. XPO spun off its brokerage arm into the standalone firm RXO in November, divested its European warehousing enterprise in 2021 and is now centered completely on less-than-truckload.

LTL carriers mix freight from varied sources into one load and orchestrate the deliveries. Like freight brokerage, LTL is ripe for digital transformation, Silberkleit mentioned.

“We utilized expertise to brokerage, and now we’re doing the identical in LTL,” Silberkleit mentioned. “It’s changing into a data-centric enterprise.”

Utilizing information to extend load density, optimize routing and schedule deliveries is a serious precedence.

“Now we have so many platforms on the market producing information,” mentioned Silberkleit. “Getting that information into the fingers of our operators, who have to make choices in actual time, is the main focus proper now.”

There are 4 key areas of the enterprise focused for modernization at XPO, Silberkleit mentioned:

  • Utilizing machine studying to know price, optimize value, pack trailers effectively and cut back the miles pushed.
  • Constructing extra environment friendly trailers to scale back rehandle prices.
  • Bettering route planning and deliveries sequencing.
  • Rising productiveness on the dock via our labor optimization instruments.

As well as, XPO is utilizing tech to enhance the shopper expertise via “piece-level monitoring,” which assigns every pallet a singular identifier for real-time monitoring, Silberkleit mentioned.

“Our clients need expertise,” Silberkleit mentioned. “They need integrations, they need to see extra APIs and so they need to have the ability to get information from us in actual time to trace their freight.”

An engineering tradition

Recruiting and, maybe extra importantly, retaining tech expertise has change into a serious concern for firms like XPO. In a good marketplace for IT professionals, staffing success may be decisive in transferring ahead with modernization.

XPO’s IT store has roughly 430 technologists, half the scale of the workers who supported operations previous to the RXO spinoff. In its leaner incarnation, the staff contains a couple of dozen ML and information science specialists, in accordance with Silberkleit.

“Sensible individuals prefer to work on arduous issues, artistic issues” Silberkleit mentioned. “You must rent the perfect, however you even have to provide them an enticing surroundings, the place they’re constructing attention-grabbing issues and so they’re excited by the work.”

The office tradition for XPO’s technologists is an engineering tradition, mentioned Silberkleit, and that impacts his function as a CIO.

“The function is completely different from what you’d see at an organization the place the CIO is especially accountable for {hardware},” Silberkleit mentioned. “That is an engineering tradition. That is about constructing issues. It is about creating issues. It is about fixing issues, and, for me, it is also about being a enterprise individual, understanding how the enterprise operates, and getting on the market within the discipline.”

Silberkleit mentioned he visits service facilities and talks with drivers and dock employees concerning the expertise they should enhance operations.

“One among my roles is to gather concepts that I then convey again to an engineering tradition, then we go and work out how we will construct that,” Silberkleit mentioned.

Explaining that expertise to a tech-savvy CEO is probably not tough, however that doesn’t imply approvals are computerized.

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