MANAGING COMMERCIAL LAND TRANSPORTATION WITH NOVEL TECHNOLOGIES
With the advent of technology (IT and cloud in specific), the concept of technology driven aggregators is getting widespread attention across various industries. The aggregation model has organically many benefits to both the consumer and supplier, such as resolving issues of product shelf life, timely delivery, logistics cost and customer satisfaction via optimum rates and greater visibility. Aggregators have verged into multidimensional sectors like e-commerce, hospitality, healthcare, education which are considerably B2C verticals. Penetration of technology into these fields have been easier with ‘simple applications’ and with today’s digital IQ among professionals, comprehending and executing such business processes is relatively easier compared to B2B applications.
In B2B sectors such as logistics and transportation, technology is still in a very novice stage. The transportation segment representing a sizable business in the logistics sector is one of the primary areas where technology aggregators have pitched in their interest but obtained limited success. The logistics sector involves myriads of tasks like demand-supply planning, forecasting, rate enquiries for freight and other services, managing bids, creating contracts, booking shipments via multi-modes, coordinating execution of shipments, and dealing with regulatory authorities. These activities are carried out by multiple people/companies in the industry. Transforming all these activities through technology requires simple yet powerful applications that help in analyzing complex datasets and provide accurate results.
We’ve been hearing about technology buzzwords such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks, bots and blockchain. Currently, most of these technologies are directed and used towards very basic functions of aggregation, notification and tracking. The question remains, ‘can these technologies resolve ‘real business and operational pain points’ of commercial land transportation operators?’ The answer is ‘yes’. Given the traditional nature and complexities of the sector, transparency issues and insecurities of the people involved, there is a high resistance in embracing such technologies. Hence a pure ‘top-down’ approach in organizations is required, besides deep diving and creating tech driven solutions specifically for the sector.
Tackling commercial submissions, inquiries and decisions through AI/ML is a reality with the computational and customizable machine learning tools available. Whether the eco-system is required to be supervised or unsupervised, doesn’t really matter; customer service on repetitive and mundane tasks can be eradicated in merely days for any organization (for example, through the TIA ‘Transportation Interactive Assistant’ bot from Trux.ai). Customer service and commercial functions can also benefit from Ml-backed applications that will resolve the major pain points if a modular implementation approach is adopted in all business functions. Thus, the business decision will only be in which manner to break barriers of conventional business functions and implement possible autonomation.
Another technological advancement is use of blockchain applications. Blockchain disrupts an important factor - lack of trust between organizations or individuals who don’t deal on routine basis - by using a P2P environment. Thus, the availability and location needs to be mutated to ‘Block-truck’ (real availability status) and ‘Proofof-location’, which will be immutable in all sense on public ledgers. Further, with the potential of having immutable public legers, the commercial transportation sector in due course will witness seamless and timely transactions using smart contracts. These are essentially routines that establishe E-T&C and automate payments based on execution of shipments as per defined definitions of ‘execution’. So, the parties agree to the contract and embed the terms within blockchain public ledgers. When the conditions are met, for example, a sign-off by a site supervisor (with multi-level check of OTPS) on hiring of a boomloader at a construction site, all parties involved are informed and then the smart contract initiates the payments post the credit period durations.