It’s a new year, which inevitably means change. Further, when it comes to the often-lagging logistics industry, change can be a very good thing.
Soon, in fact, change may be crucial to survival -- if it isn’t already. But, for today, we’re sharing some insights into how a particular (now common) form of change can help you improve efficiency and results, as you keep on shipping into the future.
We’re talking about technology. Obviously we are fans of technology.
As creators of the NEXT app, we believe in the power of tech to improve and speed up supply chain flow and maximize profit. If we didn’t believe this so strongly, we wouldn’t be here grinding into the new year, set on helping you bring tomorrow’s solutions to today’s steady demand for freight -- and growing demands in e-commerce.
But why should you turn your tried-and-true systems of work over to new technologies?
We’re glad you (we) asked that.
Here are some lessons we’ve researched and absorbed, from companies across industries.
1. It’s about speed.
Remember Kodak? They’re still around, but it’s been a long time since the brand was associated with its once-dominant market position in photography.
In 1976, Kodak was responsible for up to 85% of camera sales and 90% of film sales in the US. By 2010, their market share for cameras had shrunk to 7%, largely due to the company’s failure to shift to digital cameras, which they invented -- and then shelved in 1975, out of fear of eating into film sales. So, instead of transitioning their own revenue to a new product line, competitors ate steadily into their market share instead.
You may think that logistics and photography are two different beasts, but consider that the failure of Kodak to adapt to changes in an industry they helped create, not to mention their active resistance to the sort of technological innovation that is rarely, if ever, stopped.
Here’s the silver lining -- despite these steep drop-offs in their core business areas, Kodak survived bankruptcy, by re-organizing and rebranding themselves as a technology company.
Shippers, fleet managers, and owner operators who embrace the change (and speed) of new technologies (like the NEXT Trucking app) can avoid making a business mistake like Kodak’s.
Technology often (always?) moves on, faster than before, whether we accept it or not. Some of today’s smartest business leaders acknowledge this, and take advantage of the change to increase capacity and demand, explore new opportunities, and adapt to an ever-shifting market.
Is it smart to test new technologies first, and to do your homework before adopting them across the board? Certainly. But this still requires that you start, and that you continue to observe your markets closely enough to ensure you aren’t allowing yourself to fall behind, if you’re slow to adopt.
2. It’s also about quality.
Okay, last example about cameras, we promise (although NEXT does ship a lot of electronics).
Consider an opposite example from Kodak.
Arri is a motion picture film equipment manufacturer that opened for business in Germany over 100 years ago.
Guess which company sells one of the single most popular digital film cameras in use by Hollywood and filmmakers all over the world, today?
Known for years as one of the top sellers of old-school, sprocket-loaded analog film cameras, Arri saw the writing on the wall and released its Alexa digital model in 2010, and the product quickly became an industry standard. Arri’s embrace of technology belies an acceptance on the part of leadership of the inevitability of change.
The point is this -- with technology, speed no longer has to come at a sacrifice to quality (more on this in a second). Not only was Arri’s strong reputation and significant market position maintained as it embraced tech and evolved as a company, it has grown since the triumph of the Alexa. Success is the best press.
In logistics, as in nearly every industry these days, the imperative to reassess our previous or current ways of doing things is the same.
Perhaps you’re not still depending on paper invoices, PODs, or BOLs -- but are you leaning on an old computer system that’s expensive to maintain (in direct costs and lost productivity) and much slower than newer options available? Even if you are generally happy with it, are you sure your system is providing as much efficiency as possible? Is there an important task it helps you complete that you feel should be easier by now? Chances are, it has been made easier, through some new technological advancement.
With a solution like the NEXT app, you can step immediately into the future, just like Arri did -- often while integrating your current systems along the way. That increased ease? It gives you some of your time back, that you can use to grow.
3. It’s about doing the impossible (delivering speed and quality, at reasonable cost).
Or what used to be impossible.
You might be familiar with the old adage in labor and customer service:
You can have quality. You can have speed. You can save on cost. But you can only have two out of the three.
We’d argue that this is changing, that now it is possible to get quality work done, quickly, at a cost that’s reasonable to business and, crucially, that’s repeatable and/or scalable to the point of increased profit.
Here’s a much more familiar example of this type of success: Amazon.
How did Amazon become the e-commerce behemoth it is today? Mostly, they did it by promising speed and convenience, at costs that consumers found attractive -- including in terms of time saved, as an increasing number of items shipped straight to their home.
Perhaps your business is already known for speed. It would stand to reason. Probably you’re just as proud of the quality service that you offer. Maybe your prices are even competitive.
But when was the last time you took stock of your offerings, and asked yourself if your workflows could be improved?
In today’s economy, even a 1% increase in profit, productivity, or sales volume, can make a world of difference, as you continue to engage opportunities and serve your clients and customers. And that 1% can have a compound effect, especially as you continue to try new things.
4. It’s about tomorrow.
By now, it has probably become clear to you that we have our eye on the future, and that we believe you should, too.
Consider the pervasive shortage of quality, available truck drivers in our industry, which is not expected to end anytime soon.
Do you want to be caught without a solution to this growing problem?
We come from trucking stock, and, when we saw the world changing fast, we didn’t want our families, partners, and customers to buckle under the pressure of logistical challenges like this. That’s why we created NEXT, in the first place. We’ve said it before (even in this post), and we’ll say it over and over again.
The future is coming. Be ready.
5. It’s about results.
We’ll leave you by repeating yet another old adage: Numbers don’t lie.
How are you performing, against competitors? How are you handling the increased demand for e-commerce, the driver shortage, the new challenges introduced by the latest legislation?
Are your operations optimized -- to the fullest? Do your results show an understanding of what’s NEXT in trucking and logistics?
It’s probably a good idea to find out. What better opportunity is there than the arrival of a new year? Good luck and best wishes in 2019!