Top 5 Technology Trends in Logistics

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Top 5 Technology Trends in Logistics

Last week I attended the first JOC logistics technology conference in Las Vegas. Congratulations to the IHS Markit team for putting together a state of the art conference.

After reviewing my notes from expert panel debates and the discussions I had with industry peers, five common themes stood out. I’d like to share them below:

  1. Accessibility to uniform and high-quality supply chain data in the US is starting to pick up, particularly for the domestic trucking sector. This is led by strong API platforms such as Project 44, Four kites, and Crux. There is still a massive gap (and opportunity) however for international and other methods of transportation data.

  2. Artificial Intelligence remains an “exotic” term with very little substance or execution behind it. There are very few success stories of its application. Quite frankly the industry needs to fix much more fundamental and elementary problems before it considers more advanced technologies.

  3. Block-chain for the logistics industry is an additional technological tool, not a catalyst for disruption. Large-scale applications face an uphill battle given how fragmented the market is, how zealous companies are of their data, and how resistant they are to standardize their operations.

  4. Logistics service companies need to get closer to their customers, not further away from them. Beware of technologies, or marketplaces, that widen the gap and cause you to lose control of your most important assets: your customers and your data.

  5. Collaboration between startups and logistics companies is leading the wave of innovation. Forwarders, Carrier’s, and BCO’s have traditionally innovated in-house in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage. This is changing quickly. Legacy logistics companies are starting to realize that they have much to gain from the network effects that SaaS brings. Put simply, startups innovate better by leveraging industry expertise, and logistics companies innovate better by relying on startups speed, focus, and agility.

In a nutshell, the state of the industry is not as bleak for existing players as many have portrayed. Nonetheless, other industries have proven that this can quickly change. So I offer all logistics providers a word of caution. Be proactive on how you innovate, not reactive. Explore the resources available, not just the ones you have internally. More importantly, take the time to collaborate and learn from others, because in business, as in life, change is driven by the many, not the few.

What other trends do you think are important?