How Tech Keeps Talent

Tags: Trucking, Logistics, Technology

For the logistics and transportation industries, the evolving on-demand economy means an increased demand for warehouse staff and commercial drivers. Thanks to the smartphone powered e-commerce shopper, perks like free shipping, two-hour shipping, and real-time delivery have fueled the acceleration of driver demand. In fact, the American Trucking Association estimates the commercial trucking industry will need a million new drivers within the next decade.

With online sales predicted to account for 17 percent of all U.S. retail sales by 2022, the “Amazon effect” seems poised to continue to disrupt e-commerce and the logistics surrounding it. What matters most to employees is quality of life and quality of work. The good news is that both are now being improved by the same types of technology powering consumer demands. Today’s interconnected logistics operations are already well down the path of reinvention, creating highly technical organizations, increasing transparency, improving decision making and improving the overall efficiency of operations.

But many are left asking, what more can I do and how should I do it?

Think Before You Implement

Technology is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to transportation and logistics, but smart implementation is key. Logistics organizations with in-house fleets need to consider where technology will be most effective. For example, automating things like packaging, printing and applying shipping labels are effective ways to increase profitability and productivity. These easier-to-implement technologies are just a few examples of functions machines have mastered that can make your business more effective. However, other more complex technologies such as completely autonomous trucks, may not be the best option to explore depending on the needs of your particular organization.

Look to Technology That Helps the Bottom Line

Implementing technology because it might look attractive to investors and current or potential customers can be detrimental if they aren’t truly needed. Instead, look for solutions that will help attract and retain top talent because they fill a driver need. For example, I think most fleets need to build better in-cab experiences, reduce task redundancy, target reductions in waiting time and find novel ways to keep drivers rolling more and fighting machinery less. A decade ago, in-cab technology was considered cutting edge, but today, drivers are tech savvy and consumer electronics have far surpassed that of the industry. Since these drivers are your most valuable commodity, keeping up with expectations will be key in helping with driver retention and, in turn, the bottom line. Drivers who are paid by the mile still must spend time doing off-road administrative tasks, so a driver working an 11-hour shift may only drive and get paid for about 6 or 7 hours. Implementing technology that increases the efficiency of administrative tasks is one easy way to retain drivers by helping them spend more time on the road doing what they do best and getting paid for it.

Don’t Settle, Customize Solutions

Large fleets used to rely on vendors to recommend technology solutions. But today, fleets are becoming sophisticated technology thought leaders and developers themselves. They are developing their own apps that they can deploy on their own. They want to control their own roadmaps, rather than be backseat participants. And by leveraging consumer design and experiences, fleets can capitalize on the best parts of form and function. This is how they will differentiate themselves.

For vendors, there needs to be a focus on how to develop products that make the driver’s job more attractive, as well as marry the benefits of consumer and enterprise solutions. This will inevitably make the fleets more attractive to drivers. Fleets have a growing responsibility to introduce unique technology to their drivers and their customers, so vendors can help by offering solutions that give vehicle users, as well as in-house staff, experiences that are equal in terms of satisfaction and user friendliness.

It does not have to be complex: implement technology in a thoughtful way with the bottom-line at the top of mind, as retention equates to a measure of quality of life and quality of work.