Our case study in cooperation with Tongji university’s School of Economics and Management, challenging this year’s Tricontinent Master of Science in Global Supply Chain Management class, was conducted end of April. The students delivered some interesting angles approaching the case, which entered around on Differentiation vs. Commoditisation in the Chinese NVOCC space.

Our case was confronting students with the challenge faced by many Chinese NVOCC today, on how to adapt their business model in the age of transparency and digitalisation, where traditional success factors, like relationships are continously decreasing in importance, costs continue to rise and margins are facing significant pressure.

The students were tasked to review industry trends, comprehend the basic concepts of Guanxi and its traditional importance for success of many B2B logistics service firms, make use of their knowledge in regards to customer needs, while employing strategy process instruments and entrepreneurship models to outline a potential future strategy.

The individual groups worked thoroughly through the case and all four groups, delivered interesting insights and strategic choices. While some where stronger in terms of presentation but weaker on content, others had stronger arguments but less strong presentation skills, which overall provided a very competitive field, making it hard to judge the winner and correctly assign the trophy.

A few of the interesting takeaways for us from the exercise, were certainly the following:

  • Environmental responsibility matters to the next generation and hopefully becomes the competitive factor that it should be.
  • Digitalisation is a must, but longterm no differentiator but a given.
  • The elements identified as key differentiators were highly people focused. One group even coined the expression of “High Touch Service”.

With digitalisation resulting in less personal interaction, those interactions, certainly rise in importance and value, becoming the core element of customer experience in a business to business environment.

We concluded the class with a presentation on OceanX, our view on current trends, a perspective on the future of our industry and a very interactive Q&A session.

Thanks to the students for their hard work, Ally Guo for her help in building the case, the lecturer Johannes Kern and Tongji SEM for giving us the opportunity.We are certainly looking forward to be back.

Further, we will continue building on our academic partnership as OceanX is aiming to establish an executive development program for talents within its international members over the coming years.

About Tongji University

Tongji University, formerly Tongji German Medical School, was established in 1907 by German doctor Erich Paulun. It was one of the earliest universities in China to launch programs in economics and management. The School of Economic Management was founded in 1984, and merged with the business school to become the School of Economics and Management (SEM) in 1998. At present, more than 5,500 registered students and postgraduates are enrolled there. SEM has cultivated thousands of professional management talents.

Together with Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg, Germany and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, United States, Tongji SEM is operating a tricontinental Master of Science in Global Supply Chain Management program.

About OceanX

OceanX is a non – exclusive global network of leading ocean freight providers and NVOCCs dedicated to delivering bespoke innovative solutions, in particular on FCL services, LCL consolidation, dangerous goods and chemical logistics, temperature control, as well as project cargo handling.

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