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8/17/2009 10:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Opinion: Survive the Slump: Invest in Technology

This Opinion piece appears in the Aug. 17 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

By Ken Weinberg

Vice President

Carrier Logistics Inc.

Though it’s true that many transportation companies are cutting back on expenses during this sluggish economy, carefully calculated investments in information technology can bring both immediate payback and long-term success.

Not only can wise, well-thought-out technology investments help businesses run more smoothly and operate more efficiently right now, better IT also can add real dollars to the bottom line by increasing productivity without the need to add more resources.

Companies that make sound IT investments today will be well-positioned to seize the opportunities that will arise quickly when the economy rebounds.

In the transportation industry in particular, technology is paramount to efficient operations. Take, for example, the integration of Web-based modules. Web functionality introduces a powerful, convenient customer service aspect to a carrier’s overall services. It allows carriers to keep overhead to a minimum while providing their shipping customers with around-the-clock access to all aspects of their accounts — not just tracking and tracing — whenever it is convenient for them.

Technology investments boost efficiency in other areas as well, including:

Improved cash flow. A good IT system tailored to the specific needs of your company can facilitate a better billing and collection process.

More accurate rating. The notoriously complex less-than-truckload rating system can be simplified and clarified through an IT system programmed to accurately analyze and quote rates as needed.

An integrated operations and administration system. The administrative aspects of your organization — the front end and back end — need to communicate and connect seamlessly with one another for maximum efficiency. This is a standard aspect of many IT systems today.

In addition to honing efficiencies during an economic slowdown, companies must figure out ways to add value without having to add resources. Technology plays a major role in accomplishing this difficult but necessary task. A good IT system makes it possible for companies to:

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