One of the most important disruptions facing transport & logistics (T&L) companies is technology and digitalisation. Developments in technology provide uncertainty but also many opportunities for T&L organisations. The difference between the leaders and laggards in this industry will be in the ability to embrace these disruptions. Knowing where the benefits and risks are and how to leverage those begins by understanding the impacts.
The T&L industry is impacted by technology and digitalisation in four different ways:
- New technologies are impacting the entire organisation, in every domain – there are many technological breakthroughs impacting every business domain in the company, from marketing & sales, warehousing & transportation, finance, procurement, HR and IT. For example, using robotics in warehousing but also in customer service and the back-office, using data analytics in customer service, supply chain or procurement, migrate to cloud, adopting blockchain, applying drones, 3D printing, etc… These innovations are all redefining the way that T&L companies operate.
- New entrants can grab (profitable) pieces of the T&L value chain – technology is enabling non-T&L companies to enter the market, e.g. new platforms to connect supply and demand (“uberisation” of the sector) and leveraging the sharing economy for shipping and pickup (especially the last mile). More and more start-ups are entering this space, but so are large shippers. The philosophy is growing towards ‘asset-light & data-heavy’, powered by new technology, getting control over the customer and the data.
- Technology is driving a new way of collaboration in the sector – it is no longer a must to have all assets in one place: today, companies are getting rid of trucks and warehouses but working through the partnerships ecosystem to operate more flexibly and efficiently. In this sense, technology also enables companies to reduce their ecological footprint, preventing from driving, sailing or flying empty. This allows T&L companies to be more scalable, and flexible, addressing the dynamic needs of their clients.
- Technology is changing T&L stakeholder behaviour and expectations – customers (B2C and B2B), partners, suppliers and personnel are changing how they want to work and to be served. Companies and end-consumers expect more efficiency, more performance, and significantly more personalisation in the service. Retail and high tech companies expect the same level of experience for their clients from their T&L partners, as they would provide themselves. At the same time, a digital culture is needed to attract and retain new talents driving performance and innovation in the digital age.