Technology and Innovation Take Center Stage

Even before the pandemic became the defining feature of 2020, the logistics and supply chain industries were already bracing for a technology takeover — including new solutions to address capacity concerns, rework last-mile delivery and increase visibility from Point A to Point B.

What is at the foundation of all of these transformational technology advancements? Data, says Jump Start 2021 Tuesday keynote speaker and New York Times best-selling author Alec Ross.

“90 percent of the world’s data has been produced in just the last two years,” Ross said. “We will see humans plus machines working together to enable real-time automation, analytics and insights.”

But before supply chain professionals worry too much about losing their jobs to the robots, Ross reminded Jump Start attendees that they too play a critical role in the evolution of the industry over the next few years. Today’s supply chain challenges and innovations call for new supply chain skillsets — including the ability to innovate, think creatively and solve complex problems.

“The days where you would earn your certifications, get your college degree, and think that would hold you over for the next 30 years —those days are over,” he said. “We all need to commit to being life-long learners.”

As the second day of the conference continued, industry experts analyzed many of the technology trends that are predicted to take the industry by storm over the next few years. Mike Levans, Group Editorial Director at Peerless Media, Priya Rajagopalan, CPO at FourKites, and Russ Felker, CTO at GlobalTranz, started by exploring some of the top challenges technological innovation can help solve. 

“The capacity crunch was just one of the things that didn’t go right in 2020,” Rajagopalan said.

“Driver shortages, the exponential increase in e-commerce, and even extreme weather conditions we’ve seen over the past few years have all placed a strain on the trucking industry.”

In a roundtable-style discussion, Steve Huntley, president and founder of Resource Logistics Group, and executive leaders from MercuryGate, Zero Down Supply Chain Solutions and OmniMax addressed the increasingly fundamental role that transportation management systems (TMS) will play in applying data to solve many of the most pressing supply chain challenges. 

The session’s panelists started by highlighting two key operational benefits that businesses can gain by pivoting to the right TMS solution. First, they agreed, a TMS provides critical visibility to the supply chain — allowing for better management and better customer experiences. And second, they acknowledged the potential to more effectively control costs, particularly when it comes to rate shopping.

“Reduced rate costs — that is really one of the biggest reasons people choose to implement TMS solutions,” said Brad McBride, CEO at Zero Down Supply Chain Solutions. “There are only so many hours in the day. Being able to get multiple quotes all in one screen, versus having to go to multiple different websites to manually perform that task, it’s just all about efficiency, having visibility and being able to shop between different carriers.”

When technology goes wrong, as the final panelists of the day expounded upon in I’ve Been Hacked! Now What?, this innovation mindset will be the key to quickly overcoming the evolving challenges that accompany new technology adoption — restoring operations quickly and protecting a company’s brand reputation.

“As sophisticated as all the security tools and technology are, the bad guys are just as sophisticated, and in some cases more sophisticated,” said Scott Marticke, founder of Group Salus, a cybersecurity reputation management firm. “The real key to this is to be prepared.”

The three-day Jump Start 2021 supply chain conference facilitates meaningful knowledge transfer and collaboration between logistics and transportation professionals from carrier, shipper, logistics service provider and technology verticals. To learn more about SMC³ supply chain conferences, visit http://www.smc3jumpstart.com/.

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