When I was growing up, I remember my Dad working in the technology field. He would come home with a stack of 80’s style dot-matrix printer paper with pages and pages of COBOL code in his briefcase. There were hand-written debugging notes on the pages with arrows going all over the place. At some point a little later, he brought the first 286PC home to aid his work. All of this was driven by the desire to improve their operational processes and add value utilizing technology.
When I entered my transportation career years later, one of the things I observed is that businesses are still striving to solve these same problems and challenges. They are still as relevant today as they were back then. As professionals in the technology space, we all want to add value back to the business, minimize risks, and do our part to contain costs. Depending on what type or stage your business is in today, those priorities could be weighted differently. For example, you could be a startup focused more on growth, or alternatively addressing cybersecurity, disaster recovery, and change management in the banking and finance field. It’s safe to say it is always a balancing act and each business needs to determine what priorities are most important to them.
In the transportation and technology field today, the idea around using technological tools to add value to the business isn’t new. Don’t misunderstand, the other elements of IT or ‘keeping the lights’ couldn’t also be more important in today’s environment. Almost every business process today is tied to some piece of IT infrastructure. In today’s world of everyone being “always connected” and “always on”, 24/7/365 outages and downtimes are noticed immediately and keeping things running 24/7 is the technology group’s number one mission. In the transportation arena; however, I believe we’re really at a transformational point in time today. Overall, we’re faced with this massive exponential growth of technology in general in the industry. These new tools give us all so much potential to add value to our business operations!
Some of these include tools that can improve our driver and front-office business processes. Examples include driver interface products such as real-time paperwork scanning utilizing mobile smartphone applications, or custom developed toolsets that provide visibility and transparency to today’s tech connected drivers to view order details, work assignments or payroll data, with the goal to make it easier for drivers to do business with us. There have also been major shifts in technology regarding business to business communications. Historically, transportation communication between customers has been performed via EDI load tenders, EDI invoicing, and EDI shipment status updates. Even though EDI has been around since the 60’s and many businesses utilize EDI today, it’s still not fully prevalent in the industry.