Lowell-based carrier J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. and Sunnyvale, Calif.-based technology company Google announced Wednesday (Feb. 17) an alliance to accelerate J.B. Hunt’s digital transformation and develop next-generation supply chain platform technology.
The multi-year partnership is expected to expand J.B. Hunt’s technology platform J.B. Hunt 360 that digitally connects shipments with available capacity, increases efficiency and enhances visibility in the platform.
Real-time data is significant to the $1 trillion logistics industry, and customers have increased expectations for faster services and more transparency on shipments, according to a news release. Existing carriers rely on a patchwork of information technology systems across the supply chain, capacity use, pricing and transportation delivery. The goal for J.B. Hunt 360 is to centralize data from across these systems, helping to reduce waste, friction and inefficiencies, the release shows.
J.B. Hunt 360 will leverage Google’s Data Cloud to better predict outcomes, empower users and make informed decisions, according to the release. J.B. Hunt will use advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning tools from Google Cloud to develop new services to digitally transform the shipping and logistics experience for shippers, carriers and service providers.
“Joining forces with Google was a natural fit, considering both companies’ histories of trailblazing and industry disruption,” said John Roberts, president and CEO of J.B. Hunt. “Powering J.B. Hunt 360 on Google Cloud will help drive us forward in our industry, and we expect it will produce innovative solutions meeting transportation and logistics needs. This is an exciting time for our organization and those we serve, as we launch this initiative alongside Google.”
In a research brief on the partnership, analysts Justin Long and Jack Atkins and associates George Sellers and Wade Schaller, all of Little Rock-based Stephens Inc., said it will allow engineers and business leaders at Google and J.B. Hunt to collaborate on expediting the digital transformation in the transportation sector. This includes the release of additional offerings, such as predictive modeling, advanced data analytics and real-time visibility solutions.
“We believe this alliance can enhance and accelerate (J.B. Hunt’s) strategic plan related to J.B. Hunt 360,” the analysts said. “As a result, we have increased confidence in our view that (J.B. Hunt) will emerge as one of the leading digital disrupters in the years ahead. This remains a key component to our long-term bull case for the stock.”
The analysts maintained an overweight, or buy, rating on J.B. Hunt stock and a 12-month target price of $167.
Following are the three areas on which Google and J.B. Hunt will focus:
- Open cloud capabilities to create a sophisticated operating model: J.B. Hunt 360 will adopt Google Cloud’s Anthos to provide a consistent development and operations experience across cloud environments. The combination of J.B. Hunt’s transportation expertise with Google Cloud’s machine learning and artificial intelligence tools, including Cloud AI Platform, AutoML and Recommendations AI, will create enhanced levels of visibility into the supply chain.
- Data science to drive efficiency: J.B. Hunt will use Google Cloud’s Data Cloud, including data analytics and artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to build reliable, repeatable and extensible workflows, according to the release. This will allow J.B. Hunt to quickly produce machine learning models and break down data silos to optimize solutions in real-time and offer predictive analytics for shippers, carriers and other service providers.
- Co-innovation to drive future solutions: J.B. Hunt and Google will create an innovation framework and roadmap that unites each company’s engineering talents to create new solutions that will be released over time, including real-time visibility and predictive modeling. Also, J.B. Hunt can create a secure, scalable and cost-effective data warehouse to support the J.B. Hunt 360 marketplace by leveraging Google’s data analytics solutions such as BigQuery.
“The transportation and logistics industry is fundamental to the health and security of the global economy,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud. “Our partnership with J.B. Hunt creates a unique opportunity to transform the shipping and logistics experience through the use of AI (artificial intelligence), ML (machine learning) and other technologies to help businesses – and the logistics industry as a whole – innovate for the future.”
Shares of J.B. Hunt (NASDAQ: JBHT) were trading Wednesday (Feb. 18) at $146.26, up $1.44, or 1%. In the past 52 weeks, the stock has ranged between $156.74 and $75.29.