Technology Must Be a Theme in 2021
The supply chain sector has always been one of tradition. Unfortunately, that has often meant that it has been slow to adopt the technology evolving around it. With a fear of the unknown, the supply chain and logistics sector has stuck to the status quo for too long, slowing the ability to evolve and reach true potential.
Over the past five years, technology has finally begun to seep into the industry and 2020 changed the way we think. As companies closed for prolonged periods and workflows became remote, technology proved critical to survival.
As more companies involved in supply chain adopt technology out of necessity, it is hard to see them ever turning back. Technology continues to be viewed as beneficial, driving the industry to evolve and flourish.
The Fear of the Unknown
For an industry that has spent decades conducting business in the same way, adopting technology can be frightening because it is the unknown.
This fear and the simple lack of training in new technology are the biggest hindrances in supply chain technology adoption. Ten years ago, companies were hesitant to adopt cloud-based technologies—a hesitation that is still present today. This leads to an unwillingness to consider new solutions, and ultimately many people being unprepared when the time comes to adopt technology into workflows.
The supply chain and logistics sector is historically focused on personal relationships. Many fear that if they adopt new technology solutions, they could have a hand in putting those players they've built relationships with out of business.
In truth, technology adoption does not take the jobs away, it simply makes them more efficient. It improves labor management, enables easier monitoring of resources and creates full visibility across the supply chain.
The events of 2020 posed a great challenge to the supply chain. As companies closed offices and remote work began, the technological gap was more obvious and industry leaders realized they needed to do something about it.
Technological innovation began with the less-than-truckload market, and we now see a strong push on the full-truckload side. It does not stop there.
Within the next few years, that trend will continue throughout additional modes and equipment types. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are being introduced into processes, presenting exciting opportunities to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
AI and ML are both dependent on good data. With the introduction and spread of technology, AI and ML teams are getting better access to the depth and quality of data they need to succeed. This will play a large role in the success of the industry moving forward.
The Future is Bright
The technological revolution for supply chain and logistics is upon us. Technology will allow greater connectivity and efficiencies that are invaluable. By adopting technology, the use of data analytics, AI and ML, logistics companies will be able to better determine patterns and trends throughout shipments. In effect, recurring challenges can be easily identified and quickly solved.
Additionally, as demand for goods continues to grow through the popularity of e-commerce, supply chains must adapt. Technology will allow for smoother, faster travel times and help meet high consumer demands.
It is more important than ever that the industry take a confident step forward and begin utilizing technology solutions that will better set up the entire ecosystem for long-term success.