Smart Freight Centre Launch remarks from Dr. Leonard Waverman, Dean, DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University

speaker at podium
Dr. Leonard Waverman, Dean, DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University speaks at Smart Freight Centre Launch, April 18, 2019

April 18, 2019, Launch of Smart Freight Centre, Brampton, ON

I would like to thank the organizers of this event, celebrating the launch of the Smart Freight Centre, for providing me a few minutes to speak to you.

First, I’d like to highlight one of DeGroote’s faculty members, Elkafi Hassini, for his contribution to the Smart Freight Centre. His research into supply chain management, e-commerce and the future of automation will assuredly provide future value to this joint project between ourselves, the University of Toronto and York University and the private sector.

The research done at the university and at the business school, is I’m proud to say, is leading edge and inter-disciplinary. From the McMaster Digital Transformation Research Centre that helps us better understand how the digital revolution is impacting each of us and how it transforms organizations and society, to DeGroote’s Marketing and Supply Chain Analytics Laboratory – we look for opportunities to enhance our collaboration with private, public and not profit sectors.

DeGroote prioritizes interdisciplinary collaboration – meaningful learning and change does not occur in a vacuum. Our goal is to not only transform business and society, but also to transform business education.

We have faculty partnerships for outstanding programs with the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and the Faculty of Engineering – all of which support critical thinking, innovation, problem-solving, and engaging the community with a common purpose.

Working with colleagues across campus, and learning from the expertise from one another, as we see in this venture, is vital. No one discipline owns the solutions, but rather when we come together to learn from one another, and truly collaborate do we begin to understand the complexity of the problem and potential solutions.

It is this philosophy of cross-disciplinary education that we believe will best prepare our students for success in the rapidly evolving world.
And the world is evolving – and the challenge is moving from a reactive state to a more proactive state.

Automation, the increasing use of Artificial Intelligence and robotics will impact the workplace and is already impacting effective supply chain management.

The increasing reliance on eCommerce and meeting the demand for near immediate delivery times, while ensuring the shipping of the goods is both efficient and done at a low-cost places greater strain on locating efficiency on logistics, warehouse management and ultimately reducing the cost of the last kilometer. However, to find these process efficiencies, this is where we will likely see the increase of artificial intelligence as a key differentiator.

I can imagine a future where AI analyzes the current operation procedure and predicts the likely outcomes and provide potential solutions to automate certain decision and navigate the intricate balance between supply and demand.

Depending on your viewpoint, you may consider to yourself that the future of supply chain is fraught with risk – and I think we need to view this as an opportunity.

All these forces are affecting the current state and the future state of the workplace. As demonstrated we have physical evidence of a dramatic transformation in business.

DeGroote understands that the future of work is a mystery to most. Traditional business models are experiencing disruption with every entrepreneurial innovation. Many of the jobs we’ve prepared students for over the past century will disappear within a decade.
Therefore, DeGroote is looking at how we can transform business education.

It is an exciting time at the DeGroote School of Business.

We’re poised to make dramatic changes, not only in the way we deliver business education, but also in how our students are equipped for roles that are more ambiguous than ever and are key to the health and prosperity of our communities and country. Meeting their needs and indeed, demands, for an applicable education is paramount for success.

Transforming business education and creating a brighter world through business is not an easy task. It is a goal that we work towards each day at DeGroote, and as we continue to evolve, opportunities for our students to collaborate with partners in research centres, such as the Smart Freight Centre, will be paramount to our success in developing the next generation of business students.

Once again, I would like to thank everyone for their involvement and execution of this project.