There is more, and better, logistics technology available than ever. It’s also less expensive and easier to implement, which is especially helpful to small and medium sized companies. These are good things.
The future is bright too. There is a constant stream of new innovation and ways that both logistics services providers and shippers can operate better using technology.
Where to start, how to choose?
The first step for companies to take advantage of these tools is not simply jumping to conclusions about the best ones and hastily implementing them. As with any industry, companies need to be smart with the decisions they make regarding technology and do so as part of a comprehensive strategy.
The good news is there’s a common process for doing this called “gap analysis”, which is a method of assessing how well a company’s current technology is meeting its needs. Then, if necessary, determine a plan of action for finding the right solutions to meet them. Each decision in the process must be considered as part of the company’s technology stack, which is the combination of all technology applications a company has in use. The gap refers to the space between the present state of where the company is now, and the future state of where it wants to be.
Functions like carrier communications, automating manual processes and paperwork, and rate management are common task that technology can make easier. A new breed of solutions is taking this a step further by providing better visibility into data and decision making.
The key, of course, is the flow of data between the various systems. In the past most logistics technology was bloated, expensive enterprise software. Today, a proper logistics technology stack is a combination of specialized systems, usually SaaS, that perform specific tasks in the exact way a company needs them too. Gap analysis helps to ensure those needs are met with any new technology that is added, as well as proper data interoperability between the systems.
So, before considering the next great logistics technology make sure it really aligns with your long term strategy. Gap analysis is the most direct and effective way to accomplish that.