At time:matters, technology drives growth

MUNICH — Franz-Joseph “FJ” Miller is about to become the former-CEO of time:matters, the time-critical transport company that he started “from scratch,” in 2001 with just a handful of employees as a spin-off from Lufthansa Cargo.

But stepping down doesn’t mean that he’s bailing on the industry, he explained to Air Cargo World at this year’s Transport Logistics show. Instead, he’s moving on to manage a last-mile delivery company called Liefery, which he co-founded.

We caught up with Miller to get his thoughts on time:matters’ accomplishments, and to find out what the future holds.

Time:matters was recently re-acquired by Lufthansa Cargo in a move that FJ called, “strategic positioning.” Lufthansa’s strategy is to create growth areas. Time:matters, he explained, has been growing for 16 years, and has a “niche positioning as a technology platform, a strong customer service focus, and is asset free.”

On the flip side, time:matters expands its customer base and increases its global reach through Lufthansa’s extensive network. The time:matters service logged a 9 percent revenue growth in 2016, which Miller accredited, in part, to the expanded network.

Importantly, Lufthansa has kept the acquisition as a standalone business, allowing time:matters to maintain its strategy and agility. “We consider ourselves a service company based on a strong technology platform,” Miller explained.

The company is also benefitting from strong automotive sector demand. Last year, time:matters was name the “top innovator” at the Volkswagen Innovation Day 2016, which Miller said gave his company access to a lot of Volkswagen Group companies.

Like pretty much everyone else in logistics, time:matters considers digitalization to be central to its future. “We want to have the platform available in the 300 most important catchment areas in the world,” said Miller. That means setting up shop in cities that host the industries where time:matters has expertise. “We’re doing this by making it as easy to book an emergency logistics service as it is to book a hotel online,” he said. “By digitalizing the chain, we make something that is very complex very easy.”

Another tenet of time:matters’ strategy is what Miller calls process automation. “About 15 percent of our business is courier-accompanied,” Miller explained. These services have historically been very manual processes. They used to involve looking up couriers to see if they were available, had the right visas, checking flight costs, and then making an offer to the customer. That could take up to 90 minutes, Miller said, involving the manpower of an entire office.

“We saw this as a perfect example of where you can automate the process,” Miller said. “We developed a back-end structure for the courier platform, in which we made the registration and the input of data the task of the couriers, and then we connected that to flight platforms. And now you can book an onboard courier with time:matters in less than a minute.”

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