Supply Chain Technology Trends to Watch For

Supply Chain Technology

Supply chain technology trends are constantly changing and crucial for any industry. These recent trends to watch for primarily focus on data and improving the customer experience. Learn how these top trends can positively impact the transportation and logistics industry.

Machine Learning

Recent advances in computational power have made processing of large sets of data simple. The field of machine learning has taken a strong hold of every industry, including transportation and logistics. While machine learning often is considered a “buzz word,” its benefits are tremendous. Through complex mathematical and statistical models, transportation and logistics industry players can get a better understanding of their customer and carrier base. We are now able to increase both productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction through the recognition of patterns and our ability to predict future actions based on history.

In our business we often see the match of the right carriers with the right shippers as a great example of predictive analytics. Other significant impacts include our ability to help drivers navigate through bad weather and road conditions, reduce wait times at pick-up/drop-off locations and increase the prevention of potential collisions.

Cloud

Increased usage of machine learning has really pushed transportation and logistics companies to recognize the value of data. Data is critical and we rely on it heavily, without even realizing it.

Cloud processing power is cheap and readily available, thus reducing the time to market and our ability to produce new services for our customers in a timely manner. Cloud environments have also enabled transportation and logistics companies of all sizes to exploit the benefits of high-end computing. In an industry where strong technology is a basic need, small transportation companies can establish similar services and products as their large counterparts, shifting the competition back to providing quality service and a positive customer experience.

UX Design

A positive customer experience is essential, as we notice a strong focus on designing applications that keep the user and their needs as a focal point. There used to be time when software was designed for pure functional needs, but it was difficult to use. Luckily, this trend is shifting. Technology companies have pushed the limits of making products and services extremely easy and pleasant to use. This trend has flowed into the design processes of supply chain and logistics companies as well. User experience design has become an integral part of how products and services are programmed and released to the market.

Blockchain

Regardless of the industry, we know that there is an enormous amount of potential in the power of blockchain. Blockchain will likely open the doors for services today that seem futuristic, whether it’s increased security, contract management or improved transaction processing.

One may wonder why we haven’t already seen large implementations of this technology. The primary reason is that it’s not quite ready for prime-time yet. Non-Functional Requirements (NFRs) help us understand the security, the speed and the availability of the applications we design. Blockchain’s NFRs, however, do not quite lend themselves to mass implementation as it cannot handle the processing of large volumes of transactions in rapid times. Companies and universities continue to experiment with this functionality and when ready, the technology’s implementations will be widespread.

Information Exchange (API – Application Program Interface)

Real-time information is considered an expectation, not a perk and we often take for granted how this type of information exchange happens. For example, a shipper seamlessly reaches into the transportation management system of their preferred carrier and gets real-time information about the location of their freight. A warehouse staff has real time information about the number of shipments that will be arriving in a given day, even though their transportation provider can be a completely different company. Logistics carriers have real-time information of their financial processing and outstanding balances. In these examples data flows quickly and securely from the systems of one company to the next from the availability of APIs. Since the spread of APIs has become so wide, the openness and availability of information has significantly increased. This helps supply chain companies with making better informed and timely decision-making, improved planning, increased efficiencies and delivering a great customer experience.

Terminology aside, consider the difference between supply chain companies today in comparison to those of 10 years ago. We are better, faster, more secure and provide an unprecedented customer experience. The improved quality and growth in our industry can be credited to the enhances in technology and its integration in the complete workflow of what we do. The saying that every company is a technology company continues to hold true, regardless of the industry or the size. It is important to recognize and embrace the upcoming technology trends to benefit the customer’s experience.