The fast e-commerce environment, which is increasing competition, and the initiative to use data to analyze trends and operational efficiency are contributing to the demand for hi-tech logistics solutions. Technology is the key driver of an organization’s supply chain efficiency and success. Shippers are familiar with transportation management software (TMS) systems that give them a competitive edge. New tools like mobile apps, cloud-based software, and big data provide shippers immediate, enhanced visibility that breaks silos and generates communication, collaboration and efficiency.
Mobility is an obvious advantage. With mobile, different parts of the supply chain can communicate instantly. Wireless data transmission, voice controls, and robotic procedures are a huge progression in logistics. Handheld devices like smartphones and tablets have amplified the practicality of mobile tech options for supply chain operations.
According to the 2016 MHI Annual Industry Report, 36% of respondents said mobile technologies had the potential to either provide a competitive advantage or disrupt supply chains. Mobile devices provide close, concerted networks within supply chains that can’t be discounted.
SaaS, or cloud-based software, provides advantages for companies because it has a low installation cost, fees based on usage, reduce IT expenses, and can scale use based on business needs. SaaS software is extremely accessible, bringing shippers and carriers together to create network collaboration. The most talked about advantage to SaaS applications is that it allows smaller companies to gain access to types of software that were previously beyond their means. Oracle’s CEO recently said he thinks 80% of all applications will be cloud-based by 2025.
The budding applications of big data cannot go ignored; accurate demand forecasting, real-time and historic visibility and specific metrics of performance and cost data. As big data collects information from various sources, shippers can identify efficient patterns, disruptive trends and any inadequacies or added costs.
When a company examines data, from internal and external sources, it might learn that some DCs aren’t needed. Armed with this information, the company can develop a strategy to service popular DCs more frequently, and DCs that distribute less, less frequently. With more data, comes more operational transparency. Leveraging big data enables organizations to catch pain points or adeptness that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Businesses prepared to implement technologies are positioned to succeed in efficiency.
Increased shipment and data visibility, better cost control, stronger integration within and across businesses, improved planning, enhanced tracking and regulatory compliance are just a handful of advantages technology offers.
Other technologies are continuously being developed to meet the demands of the changing market. The online atmosphere has created new practices for shipping and distribution. Access to the internet has created a desire for immediate, accurate information. Social media is helping companies provide transparency into their network. Autonomous vehicles will significantly impact capacity and how the industry deals with the driver shortage. With technology, supply chains are able to innovate, improve and provide value to their customers.
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