With the recent disruptions, logistics professionals were finally on the hot seat to re-evaluate critical supply chain processes with goals to uncover resilience, sustainability, and cost reduction opportunities. Here are some technologies that can help.
The general public has become more in tune than ever with the supply chain following a period of unprecedented disruption. From the pandemic to ongoing bottlenecks at ports and warehouses, the globe has been feeling the supply chain strain that many logistics insiders have felt for decades.
And as the prolonged period of shortages and cost hikes continues, customer demand has remained high. To meet elevated demands, shippers (manufacturers, retailers, and distributors) are seeking innovative tools and strategies that builds agility and can help them quickly pivot to overcome new supply chain challenges as they occur. Enter automation and data science.
Unfortunately, supply chain verticals have been very slow to embrace technological advancement oftentimes because of the complexity and downtime involved. But with the recent disruptions, the c-suite took notice, and logistics professionals were finally on the hot seat to re-evaluate critical supply chain processes with goals to uncover resilience, sustainability, and cost reduction opportunities. One strong example has been transportation management, also referred to as freight procurement, which has not really evolved for decades. Innovative shippers have turned to automation technology that is powered by AI/ machine learning to bolster their agility to find compliant, asset-based carriers to ship their goods, so they always arrive on time and at a fair transportation market cost.
Yet, while many shippers have done an admirable job in flying the plane while building when it comes to their supply chain technology revolutions, many operational kinks and wrinkles continue to persist as the world lurches from one supply chain issue to the next. Moreover, with so much on their plates, many shippers and their technology teams are having a difficult time compartmentalizing and figuring out what to prioritize.
With that in mind, here are several areas shippers need to focus on to find success in the immediate term and into the next year.
Prioritize First-Party Data Capabilities
One way to boost agility is to increase first-party data capabilities. Shippers routinely rely on data from outside sources to make important decisions, and unfortunately, many 3PLs only give shippers a partial or boiled down view of the data they need. To overcome this, shippers need to continue to break up with non-transparent partners and move more of their data analysis in-house so they can effectively react to real-time shifts in the marketplace. In addition, this will help shippers build a repository of historical data that can help them gain a better perspective on recurring timely and seasonal shifts moving forward.
Shift to the Cloud
While many industries began their migrations to the cloud long ago, it is surprising to note that there are still many billion-dollar shippers who continue to rely on on-premises infrastructure. Moving to the cloud is essential to breaking down silos and enabling real-time data access and analysis. Moving to the cloud is no longer suggested but a must – which is likely why the cloud supply chain market is set to experience a 41% CAGR every year until 2028, at least. This means that not only will late moving shippers be at an internal disadvantage but likely be left behind by competitors.
Continue Getting Comfortable with AI
AI is not just about plugging in a new technology and forgetting about it. Because it is constantly evolving and learning, AI requires a system of smart business rules and an ongoing flow of data to feed the machine. To be successful, shippers need to partner with tech firms who understand the shipper’s goals, have built smart AI algorithms, can easily integrate into the shipper’s existing tech stack, and train internal resources. Once launched, shippers will need talented people focused on AI ops to ensure that they are progressing appropriately and in a sustainable way.
Keeping Tabs on Industry 4.0 Advancements
Industry 4.0 – also known as the fourth industrial revolution – represents the next phase of technology integration into the supply chain, including everything from robotics to logistics management. Data is now ubiquitous throughout the business world, and with Industry 4.0, it is even going to become more so. The last few years have illustrated just how out of sync logistics is compared to other critical business units within the same company. Thus, it is pivotal that logistics not just expand data capabilities but their entire computing infrastructure to avoid catastrophe. Prepping for uncertainty today by embracing new technologies and data will help logistics teams survive uncertainty tomorrow.
A final word
Finding data success is challenging, even for the most tech-savvy industries. However, by keeping these few priorities in mind over the coming months, shippers can continue to find success in their technology overhauls and position themselves for growth for years to come.