The State of the Supply Chain

As the Pandemic Slows, It’s Time to Build a Long-Term Technology Strategy

Nearly one year into the coronavirus pandemic, there is no question the supply chain industry is adapting and changing to the new environment in which we find ourselves. These changes have taken many forms — some temporary and others that are much more likely to remain a strong part of the supply chain ecosystem for years to come. Panelists in SMC³’s recent Jump Start 2021 conference touched on many of these innovations, with many industry leaders pointing to the rapid acceleration of supply chain technologies as the critical engine steering shippers, carriers and logistics organizations through exceptional challenges.

One of the most pressing challenges we saw was record highs in e-commerce demand. Already on a strong trajectory in the years leading up to 2020, closed stores and consumer apprehension drove an entirely new set of customers to order clothing, school supplies, food and even exercise equipment for home delivery. Another challenge was the capacity crunch that emerged as increases in demand, coupled with driver shortages, made it impossible to keep inventory levels stable and deliveries heading out to customers in a timely fashion.

For the first time, many in our industry experienced first-hand how the optimal mix of digital tools could help companies seamlessly navigate market volatility — increasing efficiency, reducing dwell times and allowing carriers, shippers and end customers to all have the end-to-end visibility they need.

Now, as the pandemic subsides, this shouldn’t be where the digital transformation story ends. Overnight, technology implementations adapted to provide short-term solutions, but many of these came in the form of quick fixes and point solutions. For their users, these disconnected tools left some efficiency and productivity gains on the table in favor of quicker implementations. The next step now becomes taking the lessons we’ve learned over the past 12 months to review existing technology, identify remaining blind spots, and install integrations to create more powerful, end-to-end technology solutions.

In other words, the new challenge supply chain companies face is connecting their disparate technologies together to drive deeper synergies across their entire business. Unfortunately, taking this next step without proper guidance is a daunting proposition. At SMC³, we excel at solving these difficult challenges. Our consultative solutions deliver the technology framework to help shippers, logistics providers and carriers to get the most out of their TMS and technology platforms — including rating and quoting, provider selection, bid procurement, and freight selection across the entire shipping lifecycle.

As we look back at the giant technology strides our industry has made this past year, there is much to applaud. However, there is still much more efficiency to be gained and complexity to be removed. Not to mention growing expectations from carriers, shippers and end customers, alike, for supply chain partners who share their prioritization of innovative technology, comprehensive visibility and data insights. In 2021, let’s capitalize on the momentum we’ve built and push forward — taking the technology lessons we’ve learned to predict and prepare for whatever comes next.

When it comes to optimizing less-than-truckload freight transportation, companies across North America depend on SMC³ LTL solutions to make the best business decisions. Let us know how we can help your business with reliable, proven service. Contact us at customersupport@smc3.com or 1-800-845-8090.

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Categories: Supply Chain, Technology
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