3Gtms CEO Mitch Weseley recently sat down with Crain’s Chicago Business and other transportation industry leaders for a round table discussion about logistics technology trends and how the latest innovations are meeting the demands of digital commerce in one of the tightest labor markets in years.
Read on to learn Mitch’s take on how transportation technology has changed, what future innovations are likely to impact the industry the most, and which technologies make him optimistic. (Read the full roundtable discussion with Crain’s Chicago Business here)
How has transportation management system technology changed in the last few years?
Some providers are totally rethinking how a transportation management system should be designed, so its use expanded beyond the traditional focus on routing and cost savings. For example, a TMS system can serve as the hub for data coming in from internal and external sources, and it can automatically translate and share that data across an organization or with vendors, carriers and partners. Another change is user empowerment; users have the freedom to configure the technology themselves, so companies can move faster, experiment, and make the TMS work for their specific needs.
Why are tech solutions that have been around a while hard to implement?
Older products were designed for a different era and don’t do a good job of addressing today’s issues. But some providers are totally re-imagining how tech solutions should be built, in ways that give users more freedom and flexibility. To maximize these advances, companies need to invest in their IT teams and super-users—individuals who are the most familiar with the software and how it can address the company’s challenges. Long after the consultants have left and the project team shuts down, the super-user continues as the go-to resource and expert.
What services or innovations will most likely change the industry?
Our industry has long struggled with data visibility; it’s typically been reserved for only the biggest companies that could afford huge visibility projects. But that’s changing, and it’s really exciting. Small- and mid-sized companies can now have full visibility into the flow of data and, importantly, the tools to act on it. New innovations are allowing organizations to gather data from internal and external sources, integrate and interpret that data, and share it with partners. That’s opened up a whole new world of opportunities for cost savings, automation and efficiency.
What technologies are you most optimistic about?
Supply chain execution software is opening up better visibility and faster communication between partners. Because they’re still relatively new, it’s not clear which technologies will survive, and which will work best for what issues. The good news is that a TMS system can be the platform for any of these technologies, so shippers, brokers, third-party logistics firms and carriers can rest a little easier knowing that their TMS system will be there, no matter the winners or losers.[