Obstacles to Implementing FreightTech
By Omar Singh, president and founder, Surge Transportation
FreightTech is good, there is no doubt about that. However, the rub is that it is only as good as the team who is willing to use it. Companies can implement and deploy a new technology or capability, but if they don’t get buy-in from the team and incentivize around it, then it may just essentially be a shiny new thing collecting dust.
Buy-in can be anything from proper training and awareness, to restructuring incentive compensation to reflect the technology, to just a mindset and willingness to do things differently. It can sometimes be a really hard sell to ask those who are successful at their jobs to change everything that has worked for them for many years.
Many of us will agree at this point that there is never really a bad time to incorporate technology into your supply chain. Yet, what is interesting to watch is that there is a bad way to implement technology. At a high level, technology allows us to do more with less and to do it faster. It is a no-brainer. Any form of automation reduces the cost per transaction in any business, and in transactional business like supply chain the return on investment adds up quickly. Not only are we able to be faster, but we are also able to be priced more competitively since we can do more with less.
This is supply chain today — a highly competitive, fragmented, highly transactional environment in which many of us are trying to build, buy, adopt and adapt some form of FreightTech to help us operate more efficiently, hence be priced more competitively, hence survive in what seems to be an endless sea of competition.
Depending on where you sit as a logistician, there are so many options available to purchase and incorporate new FreightTech into our workflows. Large enterprise-level transportation management systems are constantly developing new products and capabilities to deploy to their customers under intense competition to retain customers. Third-party tech companies are developing endless products for purchase that integrate into enterprise management systems. Some of us are building our own tech stack to do things that are not even available on the market.
Think of something as critical as the sourcing capacity:
There is this new thing called a XYZ Tool, it can help you source capacity more efficiently.
Yeah, but that’s not the tool I like to use.
But it can save you money.
Yeah, my carriers aren’t on that tool.
But you can source faster and have more options.
Yeah, but it might not work for me.
But it’s fully integrated into our system.
Yes, but I don’t care and I’m not going to use it.
This is very much an industry in which what seems like forever, there has always been a “way” to do things. There is a way to source and develop carrier relationships; there is a way to conduct an RFP; there is a way to implement a routing guide; there is a way to bid on loads; there is a way to choose your route.
Leadership then calls for a meeting — after extensive evaluation, investment, development and deployment — excited to share the shiny new thing with the team and essentially the message received is: “We have this new and great thing, aren’t you excited to change all of your ways, to change everything you’ve ever known, to risk being less successful than before while you are learning how to use it, we appreciate who you used to be, but are you excited about being different?!” Um, let the dust collection while sitting on the shelf begin.
To a certain extent, the rule should be if you don’t have buy-in, then don’t buy it. So many tech initiatives fail to launch because the team in charge of using it is not set up for absolute success. Whether it is simple education and awareness or a restructuring of inventive compensation or just a shift in culture and mindset to welcome innovation — hence new ways of doing things — sometimes the end users ultimately decide whether new tech is going to be successful or not.
If we do not invest as much time in the team’s success and buy-in as we do on the actual product development and deployment, it can simply become an expense rather than an investment.
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