Executive Spotlight: John Reed, Aim Transportation Solutions
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John Reed is chief information officer and vice president of technology at Aim Transportation Solutions. Aim, headquartered in Girard, Ohio, is a provider of full-service truck leasing, commercial rentals, dedicated contract carriage, truck maintenance, freight brokerage and used truck sales.
Reed, who said programming has always been his passion, recently celebrated his 30th anniversary at the company. He worked in the transportation industry for a decade before beginning his current career at Aim in 1993. At that time he was the company’s only IT person, handling programming, networking and tech support. He was promoted to CIO in 2003 to help shape the company’s technology road map, and has been doing so ever since.
Describe some of the most effective ways your company is using technology to improve its operations and address its unique challenges.
We’re always looking for ways to improve efficiencies through the appropriate application of automation and integration to business partners. We were sending out electronic invoices back in the early 2000s before nearly all of our larger competitors and among the first with our electronic driver vehicle inspection reports. More recently, we’re leveraging technology to communicate with drivers whose first language is not English via our Road Rescue mobile app. By detecting their default language, communication from them to us is translated automatically.
What are some of the top day-to-day issues and concerns you encounter in your role, and how are you dealing with them?
Much like everyone else, the pandemic has made finding and keeping employees difficult so every place we can cut out mundane, redundant work is a target for streamlining. On the retention side, we continue to try and make our mobile offerings helpful to our drivers, dispatcher and all employees. Anything we can do to save keystrokes and effort is continuously being looked at. Integration with vendors, OEMs and customers is also something we try to do wherever it’s possible.
What emerging technologies are you watching most closely, and which do you believe hold the most potential to improve freight transportation?
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We continue to migrate more things to cloud-based services where the vendor can be the best in class and we can focus on our company’s unique needs. AI is the topic of the day, and we are watching carefully as it explodes onto the scene. We are experimenting with it as a tool to help with software development, but the predictive analytics aspect for both safety and maintenance are two areas where we see this being an immense help.
What steps has your company taken to protect itself from cybersecurity threats?
Sadly, it’s an increasingly dangerous world and we continue to increase our security budget each year. It’s the cost of doing business these days and we’ve adopted a multipronged security approach, hardware solutions, software solutions and education. Layers and layers of recurring costs are the only way to mitigate the threat, but no amount of money can eliminate it. Every couple of weeks we have security-related videos go out to our employees and it has made a difference.
Look ahead 10 years. How do you envision the advance of technology changing the trucking industry during the next decade?
In information technology, predicting the next 10 years is like predicting the next millennium. I mean, we think we know where things are heading. Artificial intelligence, robotics, clean energy hydrogen fuel cells are all around the corner changing how our industry builds vehicles, delivers goods and uses energy, but this is based on what I know in 2023. By 2033, transportation technology could be unrecognizable. You just never know what disruptive technology is around the corner.
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