Collaboration and Connectivity Have to Come Before Technology
Supply chain disruptions are at an all-time high, so it’s no surprise that technology designed to solve problems is plentiful. It should be. With pressure on everyone in the supply chain, we need tools like digital bookings, automated invoicing, and instant integration of data into transportation management systems. Let’s give thanks for technology, because nine times out of 10, it makes a difference.
Let’s also recognize that tools are only as effective as the people wielding them. And tools don’t do you any good if you don’t assess the problem.
The disrupted supply chain is not just a two-by-four that came loose and needs to be hammered back into place. It’s a collection of complications that no one has ever seen to this extent before. Shippers navigating their way through this mess don’t need a gadget. They need a strategy.
When a shipper has to deal with bad ETAs, an integration platform alone will not solve that problem. The shipper needs better industry insight and more knowledgeable partners who can help fix the underlying issues.
When a shipper pays too much on the spot market, a platform to identify real-time carrier pricing can help. But before deploying the software, a value-added partner needs to have a conversation with that shipper about how the pattern became established in the first place. Maybe the answer comes from better carrier relationships or from different shipping strategies.
Start with the strategy
Those who have spent time in logistics understand the factors that led us here. It may be the first time such a perfect storm came together at once. But insightful supply chain professionals can still analyze and make sense of the situation, and provide guidance to shippers.
Often shippers are left to repeat the practices and patterns they’ve always known. As difficult as things are right now, the supply chain is replete with professionals who offer valuable knowledge and ideas. Strategic, analytical thinkers gain the greatest value from finding and learning from each other.
We also need people who look at problems and refuse to accept them. This is where much of the technology comes from. Strategic, analytical thinkers view technology as a tool that can help solve the puzzle.
When the global supply chain is working according to design, it’s a marvel. When it’s not, the result is higher costs of goods, inefficiency in operations, and constant struggles to keep people working and goods flowing.
For people in the industry, the bottom line is threatened. Some jobs are also threatened while others seem to remain unfilled forever. Smart, determined people who understand the industry can find a way to make it work again the way it used to—or perhaps even better.
Software vendors and logistics companies play a critical role. But even more so, we need partners and strategists who can sit down with shippers and say, “Let’s think this through. We can figure this out.” Then, when the technology is deployed, it will drive real solutions.
The industry needs insight, connections, and solutions. Making all of this right has to start there.