While we usually think of challenges in the transportation and logistics industry as being the physical mechanics of transporting an item from point A to point B, the new reality is that information management – and how quickly data can be put into action – offers the biggest challenges. Fortunately, the digital transformation movement offers great opportunity for accessing, extracting, understanding then putting into action the data we know in order to provide value-added services to customers while streamlining processes.
Innovative application of information management offers six opportunities for transportation and logistics companies:
1. Digitizing core back-end processes gains faster access to data. There is still a significant number of staff assigned to manual data capture and exchange activities such as track and trace, gathering freight bill information, managing custom forms, or securing proofs of delivery. These essential activities are resource intensive, error-prone and stall billing, and cash collection.
2. Internet-of-Things (IoT) amplifies containerization. IoT technologies allow carriers to transmit vital stats, such as temperature, location, and power supply via satellite. By having this information sent to the cloud and analyzed at a central office, carriers have real-time information as issues develop that also leads to increased safety for port staff.
3. More transparency across the supply base. More companies are demanding transparency into the shipping process. Having better visibility into processes can improve shipment times and minimize supply chain disruption, but in order to do this, standardization and automation is needed.
4. Manufacturers are demanding transportation and logistics companies help them mitigate the increased risk of longer and more variable supply chains. Information management strategies should help address the risks associated with disrupted flight plans, a tsunami in Thailand that affects the port activity in California, or threats of a terrorist attack in Brussels that may halt all transportation. Having access to global information and applying it locally is a critical asset to minimizing crises.
5. The last mile is transforming. The uberization of many services is impacting the industry, and the last mile is becoming more fragmented. Cloud platforms and crowd-sharing startups are also collaborating with incumbents to complement their services. These disruptions to the last mile as we knew it requires speed in accessing accurate information.
6. Analytics to gain insight. Forward-thinking companies will use analytics to better understand their digital initiatives and customers’ challenges. Transforming that data to anticipate future needs expands the value to customers.