Ours is a world of disruption. And today, cargo transportation and logistics companies bear much of the responsibility in keeping the world running. Regardless of the day’s challenges, your company still has to continue moving the goods that people and companies depend on. And in times of uncertainty and global crises, these deliveries – and the reliability of your logistics services – become even more important.
But, realistically, how can you meet such quickly changing demand and contend with shifting industry trends? Experts now point toward digitalization as the key to success in the cargo transportation and logistics industry well into the future. Specifically, three strategic priorities can help you use digital technology to see yourself through to the other side of uncertain times.
Digitalize your customer experience
Customers’ expectations are influenced by the stellar customer experiences they receive elsewhere and in their personal lives, and they won’t stand for incorrect billing, late deliveries, or a lack of visibility into their deliveries anymore. Intelligent technologies such as AI, machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), and others empower you to deliver on those expectations for accuracy and transparency.
Many cargo companies have long used IoT-enabled intelligent sensors to learn about a shipment’s location and status. Now, machine learning can determine the estimated time of arrival based on that IoT data, and an AI bot can let your customer know when they can expect their shipment.
Not only that, but this level of intelligence can also help you stay one step ahead of your customers. AI and machine learning have the power to provide deep, predictive insight beyond your own business processes. Specifically, they can help you learn how your customers use your logistics services in their daily operations so you can proactively offer them better services. You can also plan around what you predict customers will need and when.
For instance, analytics may uncover the demand for different delivery options, such as the decentralization of delivery locations. A particular customer may increasingly seek delivery direct to shops or branches (rather than to company headquarters). The right technology can help you make sense of data related to customers, reveal a growing need, and act on it.
Generate new business models
It’s an important business imperative to provide your services with greater efficiency and speed, but success today also depends on creating new selling points, services, and business models that can increase your number of revenue streams to prevent new digital entrants from taking away your market share
Many cargo companies are turning to business process outsourcing to enable new business agility. They’re even outsourcing tasks that once seemed central to their business processes. By working with partners in this way, your business can better focus on the functions that matter most (or that will matter more as a strategic differentiator in the future). You can work better with your new partners to create more-reliable and efficient transportation models.
For instance, not only can intelligent technology update customers on the status of their shipments, but it can also provide you with the temperature and vibration modeling and other valuable insights you need to keep shipments safe. Today, the right software can help you track and trace your shipments and support key business functions including drug serialization. Such software provides a corporate serialization repository that pulls from data across your entire company, so you can prevent counterfeiting and ensure that the temperatures of your medicines stay stable. This data is collected by a range of intelligent technologies, such as IoT sensors, that scan drugs and other products at key moments during production and shipment.
Think of the coming months, when logistics service providers will need to rapidly move large quantities of temperature-sensitive COVID-19 vaccines. How can they guarantee that the vaccines delivered are safe and effective? They’ll need the technology to prevent these vaccines from being replaced with a counterfeit and to verify that they were transported at the right temperature throughout the entire shipping journey.
In addition to protecting your shipments, advanced tracking and tracing software also protects your business by providing the support you need to meet drug serialization regulations around the world. With such capabilities that provide greater reliability, you can become the business that customers know they can turn to in times of uncertainty. However, it’s hard to implement innovations such as these when you’re overwhelmed by certain business processes.
Much like business process outsourcing, intelligent technology can enable your business to focus on more-innovative work. Automation, for instance, decreases the human effort related for certain tasks, such as fulfilling RFQs, so your employees can focus on creating new business models and your managers can better use employee resources during challenging times.
However, automation can’t be implemented as a standalone solution. You must first implement an integrated business process platform to enable technologies such as AI and machine learning in order to realize digital operations. For example, transportation carriers can take advantage of capabilities such as intelligent asset management and maintenance to keep transportation assets operational and reduce maintenance downtime. Together, AI, machine learning, and the IoT can predict when assets need maintenance before they fail.
Fully digital operations also help to better inform people across your business. When all of your business processes are digital, you can create a single source of business data so employees across your business can make better decisions in the moment and collaborate more effectively.
Today, SAP solutions enable cargo and logistics transportation companies around the world to transform into intelligent enterprises capable of providing a better customer experience and generating new business models. Read our new white paper, “The Intelligent Enterprise for Cargo Companies,” to learn more about the benefits of digitalization.