5 Questions: Daragh Mahon, Werner Enterprises

[Find the latest in trucking technology: Explore this quarter's issue of iTECH]

Daragh Mahon is executive vice president and chief information officer at truckload carrier Werner Enterprises. He is responsible for the company’s overall global information technology strategy, operations and innovation. Prior to joining Werner, Mahon was senior vice president of global IT and business applications for communications firm Vonage.

Werner, based in Omaha, Neb., ranks No. 17 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America,

Describe some of the most effective ways your company has used technology to improve its operations and address its unique challenges.



At Werner, we utilize a “cloud first, cloud now” strategy. This gives us the flexibility and efficiency we need to stay at the forefront of the industry and opened the door for our newest driver-related tools — EDGE Connect and Drive Werner Pro — and the implementation of Workday’s HR management system.

One of the benefits of moving to the cloud is data optimization. Our latest technological advance includes the implementation of Mastery’s MasterMind TMS platform into our systems. This innovation utilizes our data along with industry data to improve our processes, information exchange and agility. Mastery is the foundation of our Werner EDGE platform, allowing us to get away from old, on-premise systems.

Additionally, our predictive maintenance and event resolution management technologies leverage data from over 100 onboard truck sensors and IoT devices to stay on top of upcoming maintenance and potential equipment problems, improving our response times, reducing disruptive repairs and roadside breakdown — resulting in an improved driver experience.

What are some of the day-to-day issues and concerns you encounter in your role, and how do you deal with them?

Making the right technology decisions is always tricky because there are many different factors to consider. It’s important to remember that we are here to serve the business needs and start there every time.

As a result, I need to be well-versed in all aspects of the organization to understand every department’s unique needs. And, with so many different moving parts, it’s important to make sure all of our systems are operating with high availability and that we are always thinking about cybersecurity. It is essential that the right parties are at the table when selecting new platforms or solutions, and that their input is being considered to achieve these goals.

What emerging technologies are you watching most closely, and which do you believe hold the most potential to improve freight transportation?

The industry will see a lot of innovation in the coming years, but there are a few emerging technologies that we’re keeping an eye on.

I think there’s a lot we haven’t seen yet from autonomous vehicles. We’re still in the early stages of the tech now, but, in the next three to five years, we will see some big steps forward. There is a misconception that the need for drivers goes away with autonomous trucks. That’s not true. Drivers will reap the benefit of this tech with better driver jobs, more home time and increased driver safety. Drivers are here to stay for the long haul.

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing above or go here for more info

Electronic vehicles and alternative fuels are also of interest. Again, still in the early stages — especially for electric trucks — but this is the direction the industry is going, so we want to stay in the know.

In the immediate term, data will continue to be an invaluable resource. Any technology that allows us to capture more or utilize it better will be equally invaluable. Improved data leads to better-optimized routes, improved predictive maintenance and a safe driving experience.

We look forward to the impact we can have on the industry once we complete our move to the cloud and the doors that will open because of our increased connectivity and agility.

What steps has your company taken to protect itself from cybersecurity threats?

We take a zero-trust stance when it comes to cybersecurity. This means that no matter the circumstance, we don’t trust anyone inside or outside of our network perimeter. Verification is key.

Utilizing this approach, we can mitigate security threats and safeguard our data and our customers’ data. This includes the use of single sign-on with multifactor authentication for all our team members and systems, actively limiting the number of entry points into our network. It also makes things easier for our employees, who no longer need to remember different logins to access the various platforms they use every day.

In addition, a lot of cybersecurity also comes down to educating our employees on ways they might be vulnerable to security risks so that they can be better prepared against potential threats.

Other than the above, we utilize several third-party platforms and systems to manage our security.

Look ahead 10 years. How do you envision the advance of technology changing the trucking industry over the next decade?

From a high level, there is a lot of room for cloud and API technology innovation to disrupt the industry in ways that we haven’t even imagined yet.

Looking at where technology is taking us already, we’re going to continue to see an industry that will find ways to evolve and become more sustainable. There are so many areas where we’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s possible.

This includes the open-ended possibilities that exist with headless applications built upon APIs where data flow is almost instantaneous, and connectivity is simple.