XPO Logistics Inc. announced earlier this month that it would promote its CIO to CEO, a move that highlights the increasing importance of data and technology in the logistics sector.
Chief Information Officer Mario Harik, who is also president of XPO’s North American less-than-truckload business, will succeed current Chief Executive Brad Jacobs after XPO spins off its brokerage business in the fourth quarter, the company said on Aug. 4.
“Being CEO with a technology background, you’re always looking at every problem that we have, or every opportunity that we have, or every customer relationship that we have, as having technology as part of the answer,” Mr. Harik said, adding, “for us in our industry, that’s going to be a competitive edge.”
The logistics sector in recent years has attracted an influx of digital freight startups using technology to streamline the process of connecting truckers with shippers and forcing traditional freight companies, including XPO, to ramp up tech in order to compete.
Avery Vise, vice president of freight research firm FTR Transportation Intelligence, said that as new entrants came on the scene, “There certainly was a big concern of loss of market share, so that has sort of jump-started a lot of that investment .” He added, “It has definitely energized the industry.”
An important part of Mr. Harik’s role dele as CIO has been executing the blueprints for integrating and then separating the IT functions of the company’s various acquisitions and spinoffs. But, he added, he has always balanced those priorities with growth-driving innovations.
Those efforts include an analytics-driven pricing platform that offers cost estimates with less manual processing from pricing experts, a system that estimates how many hours or workers are needed on a particular dock at a particular time, and machine-learning algorithms that optimize the number of stops truck drivers make to increase efficiency.
“When you think of a CIO, usually a lot of times you think, only a technology platform. But I’ve been part of the team that effectively has made decisions in every part of how we operate,” Mr. Harik said.
Mr. Harik was Mr. Jacobs’s third hire in 2011 and has directly reported to him since.
Speaking of Mr. Harik, Mr. Jacobs said: “He developed the proprietary technology that gives us our competitive edge in the marketplace, and our tech advantage is what’s driven our growth.” Mr. Jacobs added, “Mario’s background will be mission-critical as XPO becomes a tech-focused pure-play LTL company.”
Mr. Harik steps in as the company proceeds with plans to break apart a business that since its 2011 founding has grown through acquisitions to become one of the largest freight players in the US After spinning off its contract logistics business last year, XPO is now spinning out its brokerage business, leaving the company as the pure-play less-than-truckload business that Mr. Harik will ultimately helm.
The less-than-truckload business works by combining freight loads from multiple customers that would not fill an entire truck on their own in order to optimize cost and resources.
In addition to leading the North American less-than-truckload business and his decade as CIOs, Mr. Harik also spent a year as chief customer officer of XPO.
Before joining the supply-chain giant, Mr. Harik was CIO at Oakleaf Waste Management and CTO at software company Tallan. He received a bachelor’s degree from the American University of Beirut in computer engineering and a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in engineering and information technology.
write to Isabelle Bousquette at Isabelle.Bousquette@wsj.com
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