This story appears in the December 2007/January 2008 issue of iTECH, published in the Dec. 10 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
Recent innovations in information technology, such as the ability to harness the power of software applications over the Internet, are changing when and why trucking companies need on-site IT managers.
Carriers with fewer than 25 trucks, for example, can conduct business with an Internet connection that facilitates e-mail between carrier and customers, and an accounting system that handles payroll and driver hours, said James Griffin, executive vice president of research and development at software and online service provider Xata Inc.
Griffin said his own research shows that more than 60% of companies running 25 to 249 trucks have an on-site IT manager.
“With more trucks to manage . . . midsize companies need more sophisticated accounting processes and more employees,” Griffin said. The more employees and customers, the larger the technology network required to handle all the data.
“There is definitely an improvement in [return on investment] from technology in midtier businesses,” he said.
By the time a carrier has 250 trucks or more, Griffin said, it not only will need an IT manager, but an IT staff, too — especially if the company has multiple office locations.
“You’re not just maintaining connections and operations at one site,” he said. “You have a corporate location where all the data must be sent and consolidated for reporting purposes.”
If customers are running their own reports, they may need to work with the trucking company to create them.
The upshot: Griffin believes the freight industry will place increasing value on IT managers — and the best of those will flock to carriers that offer the most interesting challenges.