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January 27, 2021 10:15 AM, EST

Remote Work, AI Impact Transportation Logistics Space

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Remote work and artificial intelligence are helping to reshape the transportation logistics sector, a technology entrepreneur said Jan. 26.

Steve Bryan’s résumé includes founding truck driver compliance software developer Vigillo. He talked of how the coronavirus has driven remote work and shuttered business travel over the past year during a discussion that was part of Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week 2021.

“I think we are going to get back to traveling again,” Bryan said during the virtual conference. “I think it’s human nature to want to have that interaction with people. We want relationships, and we all operate in an industry where relationships are king.

“I think that’s true across the board and in my experience related to the transportation logistics business. It’s a very people-oriented operation; a lot of small businesses, self-made businesses, and these are not relationships that can flourish in a Zoom window.”

Bryan noted that while there ultimately will be a shift back to normalcy, many workers who can stay home are likely to.

“I don’t think that’s going to reverse easily,” Bryan said. “I think for that component of our work life, all of us as business owners, managers, leaders are going to have to accept. I don’t think the workers are coming back. I think this is going to be a huge trend.”

He noted that one area in which in-person work is essential is how businesses deal with customers and business partners. While certain workers can be productive working from home, he doesn’t believe a company can properly build relationships with customers through just teleconferences.

“That, I think we have to get back to,” Bryan said. “I look forward to it. I know in the trucking industry, there’s a few of the big trade organizations that are already starting to say, we’re going live again. So we’re seeing some of this happening, like a timeline around April, May and June.”

Bryan believes that when it is possible for in-person workplace communication to return, it will come roaring back. He thinks people are eager to get back to normal and interact.

AI is another trend that has massive implications for the transportation sector as well as the greater economy. Bryan explained it’s mainly about software analyzing volumes of data and discovering better ways to use it.

“Here’s a short list of the categories where AI is and will continue to be highly effective,” Bryan said. “Think about automation. That’s the first one. Automating tasks that are repetitive. Humans are not good at that.

“We get distracted easily. We get bored doing almost anything that’s an ongoing, repetitive, over-and-over again task. AI owns that and will continue to.”

He said another area is risk reduction. AI’s ability to look at huge patterns of data will help people mitigate risk by removing human error from the equation as much as possible.

Bryan contends this will benefit the transportation sector.

“It’s especially relevant in the trucking industry, for example, as we look at the ongoing and growing trends for crashes and fatalities,” he said. “I think AI is going to play a big role in that area of risk reduction, human errors and other categories.”

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