Chief Strategy Officer, Odyssey Logistics & Technology
Perspective: The Power of Cloud-Based Technology
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Over the past few years, we have learned that the more we can do remotely, the more we can potentially mitigate disruptions to business. Across supply chains, a cloud-based transportation management system can help companies facilitate remote operations, allowing businesses — even small ones — to make smarter choices, reduce costs and be more competitive.
For shippers, a TMS technology platform can help plan and execute the transport of goods. The right software allows them the ability to scale and gather data to continually make informed business decisions. For example, TMS platforms allow shippers to select specific carriers or request quotes.
All of this can be amplified using cloud-based features, which allow for flexibility within the supply chain.
When some companies suddenly took on more remote features during the pandemic, those that were already using a cloud-based TMS had certain advantages. Some operations relied on a remote desktop or VPNs which meant that employees may have limited access to the files and applications available remotely. With the cloud, users have universal access to crucial files accessible from any location.
Data, of course, plays a large role in optimizing the supply chain, and safe and accessible data storage is pivotal to shippers’ success. They are handling sensitive data every day, such as product serial numbers, product location and storage, and cloud-based software ensures this sensitive data is secure due to robust cybersecurity measures put in place.
Cloud-based software also creates a more collaborative work environment through its data-sharing capabilities, which ultimately creates a better experience for its users. With cloud-based technology, all data is stored in one place, making it more accessible. In small businesses especially, collaboration is key. Utilizing TMS benefits that help with order management and shipment rates are vital for improving processes and collaborating where possible.
Advice for Taking the Leap
For the supply chain, the past couple years — including the COVID-19 pandemic — highlighted gaps in efficiencies and agility partly due to resistance in embracing digital transformation.
Digital transformation is sometimes met with pushback, mostly stemming from uncertainties around what it means for the future, particularly for small companies.
But when it comes to weighing new tech platforms within the supply chain industry, there are things to consider that can address the fears or concerns businesses have about it.
Companies aren’t left alone in implementing new technology. When companies find software that works well and addresses their needs, they don’t have to learn everything by themselves. Software companies usually have employees whose sole purpose is to teach new customers how to use their software.
If you’re considering moving to a cloud-based TMS, ask as many questions as you need, watch the tutorials and demos that come with the software, and give yourself time to learn. Play around on the software first — don’t let the first time you ever use it be when you are scheduling a shipment of 100-plus trucks.
The supply chain is built on human connections and relationships. When talking about technology, a large fear is that it is going to replace human jobs. But good implementation of technology can allow individuals to maximize their productivity. Technology and automation can free up hours in someone’s day, allowing them to focus on more strategic aspects of their job such as sourcing extra capacity that ultimately will improve operations.
Finally, before moving everything online, leaders should understand what the business impact will be, and ensure that reliability, manageability and scalability are top of mind. Leaders also should make sure a secure virtual environment is top priority by ensuring authorization protocols for data access and usage are in place. Executives can do this by analyzing their own business requirements, the costs associated with both hardware and software as well as the efficiency that the various solutions provide to their employees.
Glenn Riggs is a member of Odyssey’s founding team and currently serves as chief strategy officer. He also serves as president of Centerboard.
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