Transformation: Technology or People?

Much has been written lately about digital transformation in the logistics space, with new players asserting that their systems revolutionize the international freight industry, or even that they “fix the user experience in global trade”. Are the virtual forwarders, newcomers to the industry, right that the industry is stuck in the past and failing its clients? Is technology the be all and end all for logistics? These questions are important for LSPs investing in technology and for clients evaluating potential providers.

Service is more than I.T. tools

Some universal service requirements in this space are:

  • Access to accurate and timely visibility and reporting tools

  • Knowledgeable, flexible and responsive customer service

  • Product and geographic capabilities that meet client specific requirements

A single minded focus on a final digital product puts too much emphasis on technology, while undervaluing the people, processes, networks and culture that make it all work.

Requirements are Dynamic

Change is constant, and client requirements are dynamic, rather than static. Focusing solely on any one application or one platform can make a provider less agile and able to evolve over time. Investing everything in one I.T. solution may mean there aren’t adequate resources available for continual improvement over the long term.

Change is about People and Organizations – not Systems

Even with the most current solutions, people are needed to operate the systems, to maintain standards and processes, and to incorporate client requirements. Training that addresses functional and systems knowledge plus behavioral change is critical for effectiveness.

Digital transformation isn’t all about technology – it’s about efficiencies, customer service and ultimately about people. Providers and shippers should focus on the endgame – improved service and reduced costs – rather than on touting the digital transformation itself.