"Technology and Training:" Dunavant's Richard McDuffie on the Logistics Industry

Note: This is the fifth entry in our new weekly blog, "Beyond the Bio," where we ask MBQ Power Players to write a post of their choosing about their industry. This week, we have the first entry from our January/February Power Players category, Chief Operations Officers. Richard McDuffie, COO of Dunavant Logistics, discusses the impact of technology on business. The Power Players category in the November/December 2012 MBQ was Restaurateurs, and we had Kelly English, chef and owner of Restaurant Iris, sharing why he was drawn to the industry, José Gutierrez of River Oaks Restaurant reflecting on 30 years in Memphis dining, Lauren Boggs McHugh of Huey's on growing up in the food industry, and Ben Smith of Tsunami talking about the "new normal." Check this space weekly for future installments of "Beyond the Bio."

In my more than 25 years of experience managing people and processes in the transportation and logistics industry, nothing has changed and impacted the way we do business more than the rapid development and expansion of technology into our day-to-day operations.

Technology has drastically affected virtually every component of my industry, and I am certain, yours as well. From the speed of internal and external communication to the ability to monitor shipments from anywhere in the world, technology has given us the opportunity to be more efficient with costs and time in business procedures.

Saying that, you could have the best technology in the world, but if the user base is not trained to the full capabilities of the technology you invest your capital (both time and money) then it does your company no good. The strategic advantage you had hoped to obtain with the bells and whistles of the latest and greatest technology has been marginalized at best.

In my experiences and observations, we must ensure that the software utilized, especially in the logistics industry, is ubiquitous throughout your operation. The decision of what software is best for you must be a discerned and analyzed process. In my opinion, there is not one logistics system that is ahead of the others.

Technology is a tool, a necessary tool. There is no argument about that. But, it is only as successful to your business plan as the people who are using it and how they are trained. The important takeaway from technology in the workplace is that it is a very important tool but what is more important are the people and processes you surround yourself with in your company.

At the end of the day, how the technology integrates with the processes and people (including the customer!) is the most important thing in utilizing your IT strategy.

The bottom line in all your business decisions that should drive your successes is to hire well, train well and be aware.


Power Player Bio: Richard McDuffie

Chief Operations Officer, Dunavant Global Logistics Group, LLC, accountable for strategic and tactical initiatives for Dunavant Global Logistics Company’s four divisions: global, distribution, freight, and solutions. Prior to Dunavant, he was vice president of supply chain for the Fortune 300 retailer AutoZone, Inc.; vice president of global logistics, Williams-Sonoma, Inc. Currently, he serves on the board of directors, Dunavant Enterprises, Inc.; executive committee, Dunavant Enterprises, Inc.; member, Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals and the American Cotton Shippers Association; board of trustees for Bridges USA, Inc.; development committee; board of Concord Academy and the finance committee; administrative board of Christ United Methodist Church. Three-time selection to AutoZone’s Starter Club; published in the Handbook of Supply Chain Management. Bachelor of Business Administration, Mississippi State University; Richard is married with two children.

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