Supply Chain Technology Trends to Watch For (Updated August 2023)

Werner Diversity

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

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
Recent advances in computational power have simplified the processing of data sets. Machine learning and AI are being explored and discussed as opportunities for improvement across all industries, including transportation and logistics. While machine learning may have been considered a “buzzword” in the past, its benefits are now widely understood. Through complex mathematical and statistical models, transportation and logistics industry players better understand their customer and carrier base. We can increase productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction by recognizing patterns and our ability to predict future actions based on history.

An example of this is leveraging machine learning for predictive maintenance.  A predictive maintenance system utilizes real-time data, historical fault logs and AI to monitor the condition of equipment to predict routine maintenance and alert operators to lagging performance.

This system helps with efficiency, lowering repair costs and reducing unexpected breakdowns for drivers on the road. In doing so, it also improves driver safety by minimizing the likelihood of equipment failure or an on-the-road event.

Cloud-First Strategy
Increased usage of machine learning has pushed transportation and logistics companies to recognize the value of data. Data is critical, and we rely on it heavily, without even realizing it. In response, companies are investing in cloud technologies as a necessary tool for data management.

The cloud is one technology that impacts all aspects of the supply chain and helps increase interoperability between platforms, security and innovation.

At Werner, we have an enterprise-wide strategy, ‘Cloud First, Cloud Now,’ which will help us transform our entire tech stack by moving it to the cloud to enable more significant innovation and enhanced customer service. It will help us become the first truckload transportation company fully leveraging the cloud.

UX Design
Delivering a positive customer experience is essential, and designing applications that keep the user and their needs as a focal point is key for success. There used to be times when software was designed for pure functional needs, but it wasn’t easy to use. Luckily, this trend has shifted. Technology companies have pushed the limits and created products and services that are extremely easy and pleasant to use. This trend also has flowed into the design processes of supply chain and logistics companies. User experience design has become integral to how products and services are programmed and released to the market.

Blockchain Technology
Across industries, we see that blockchain holds enormous potential, from increased security to contract management or improved transaction processing. At Werner, we are exploring blockchain technologies as an important strategy for our future and a way of further investing in innovation to better meet our customer needs.

Information Exchange (API – Application Program Interface)
Real-time information is considered an expectation, not a perk, and we often take how this type of information exchange happens for granted. 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 arriving on a given day, even though their transportation provider can be a completely different company. Logistics carriers have real-time information on their financial processing and outstanding balances.

In these examples, data flows quickly and securely from one company’s systems to the next, all facilitated by the availability of APIs. Since the spread of APIs has become so widespread, the openness and availability of information have significantly increased. This helps supply chain companies make better informed and timely decisions, improve planning, increase efficiencies, and deliver a great customer experience.

Terminology aside, consider the difference between supply chain companies today compared 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 advancements of technology and its integration into 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. Recognizing and embracing the upcoming technology trends is essential to benefit the customer’s experience.