Consultancy: Focus on Business (video)

Were you aware that, apart from research and teaching, Kühne Logistics University also offers consultancy services for businesses? What should a business model of the future look like, and which industry trends are currently relevant? In order to answer these types of strategic questions, Senior Researcher Dr. Moritz Petersen and his team of three are the people to contact at KLU. Small and medium-sized businesses are particularly encouraged to get in touch; there is no need to have a six-figure budget to take advantage of their services. In his research, Dr. Petersen focuses on logistics and supply chains and executes industry projects at the interface between management and technology.



You are the point of contact for business consultancy at KLU. Would you mind introducing yourself and the services you provide?

Moritz Petersen: I am a researcher at KLU, and in our work my team and I focus on looking at a variety of aspects relevant to the fields of logistics and supply chains.  The ways in which we carry out our research vary greatly. We usually start with large consortia projects that involve working with industry partners at European level and that last around three to four years. In these projects the dissemination of research results to the business community is pretty much already incorporated into them. However, our portfolio also includes consultancy projects that are much smaller in scale. We enjoy working with smaller and medium-sized businesses, many of which are located here in Hamburg, and we’re able to answer a number of much more specific questions for them.

What kind of companies reach out to you, and what types of questions do they have?

Moritz Petersen: We are mostly approached by smaller and medium-sized businesses from the logistics and trade industry or by production companies. For the most part they’re successful, innovative companies, yet they still opt to take advantage of the business expertise a university can provide for them when it comes to certain long-term business decisions. Their questions are broad in scope. They range from operative questions like, for example, what’s the most effective way for measuring and reducing emissions along the supply chain to strategic queries. These questions of strategy are especially important in a market that continues to develop technologically and become more and more competitive. This environment faced by many companies has become increasingly more turbulent.

What are the methods used in academic business consultancy at KLU, and what can companies expect to take away from their experience working with you?

Moritz Petersen: Often the questions companies come to us with aren’t that specific yet. They’ve basically come with a gut feeling that there’s a need to take some sort of action. An example of this came up recently in a project with a smaller trade company. The company’s management had noticed that certain changes to the left and right of them, or, more specifically, upstream and downstream on the supply chain, could potentially have an impact on their core business. However, how this might pan out was difficult to pinpoint. The questions were when, how, and if it would even happen at all?

In a case like this, we sit down with company, listen to what they have to say, and ask the right questions. If both sides like what they hear, we then come up with a plan on how to move forward together. It could be that we decide on a consultancy project with focus on a specific topic to be carried out within a set amount of time. However, it could also be that we settle on a long-term research and development project with the potential option for public funding. In general, we work quickly and are able to adapt ourselves during and throughout the process. This seems to be a good fit for smaller and medium-sized business that generally operate on the same wavelength. And when these companies also have a healthy dose of gusto for making decisions, these types of projects can be extremely fruitful.

What is your team’s level of expertise?

Moritz Petersen: We are a team of four researchers and have two main areas of focus, namely the improvement of sustainability and the implications of digitization. Regarding sustainability, we focus on all aspects of the subject and not just reducing emissions, even if this does present a pressing and important issue in the context of logistics. In digitization, we look at the implications new technology has on logistics and supply chains. That said, we also take into account the impact such technology can have on established business models and define needs for adjustment.  

What are the differences between the approach you provide compared to that of a standard business consultancy agency?

Moritz Petersen: The main difference is the fact that we research these topics on a daily basis. Apart from our expertise and passion for the subject we also bring something else to the table: our scrutinizing researcher’s perspective. Particularly in these turbulent times when separating the relevant trends from those that are less so is no easy feat, we find this approach to be the best.

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