3 hurdles that keep transportation & logistics an ancient industry

Much has been said about the high-tech future of the transportation and logistics industry — from autonomous trucks and drones to next-gen GPS systems, not to mention the revolutionary potential of the Internet of Things. But even as technological advances have driven transportation and logistics companies to provide faster, cheaper and more flexible services, the industry has a dirty little secret: Our love affair with paper.

In fact, transportation and logistics is as much about the movement of paper documents as it is about the movement of goods in the supply chain. For example, the bill of lading is the main driving document in most forms of transportation today — air, sea and ground. Without an original copy, the carrier cannot release the transported cargo at the destination port. Its function has remained largely unchanged since the first boom in maritime technology made international trade possible.

In other words, we’ve relied on the same document for 700 years.

Behind the scenes

For all the advances in transportation, behind the scenes it’s still an ancient industry that relies on ancient technology (electric typewriters are still in use at some shipping companies today). But relying on the same old processes “because that’s the way it’s always been done” will not work any longer.

Customer expectations for faster, cheaper transportation have never been greater, both in the B2C and B2B spaces. Digital transformation continues to challenge the status quo and disrupt the industry, where digital and always-on supply chains are becoming the norm.

Transportation and logistics companies must adopt new technologies and ways of working or risk losing out to more agile, innovative players.

What’s keeping the industry from modernizing?

To do so, organizations need to overcome three major hurdles:

1. Legacy systems at various touchpoints

Take customs brokerage as an example. A broker is someone who facilitates a transaction, such as between a real estate buyer and seller, or between a buyer and a bank. In customs, a broker facilitates the transaction between an importer and the government.

A customs broker may have one of the most advanced customs brokerage applications on the market, but customers often do not.

Now imagine working with customs declarations of goods with more than 10,000 parts being imported into the U.S. Each one of those parts, along with other data points, needs to be manually keyed in line by line, because the customer can’t get the data into a spreadsheet, and can’t transmit the document electronically. Sending a complete customs declaration document becomes a tedious process that takes several days, causing delays throughout the supply chain.

2. Vast amounts of paper documents

Outdated legacy systems are just one hurdle that’s keeping transportation and logistics companies from modernizing. Manual processes exacerbate the problem by generating vast amounts of paper documents, locking valuable transportation data inside filing cabinets.

Not only do physical storage costs add up, relying on paper files also makes searching for relevant information a mammoth task that takes up valuable time and resources that could be better spent on higher-value initiatives.

3. Resources spent on low-value, repetitive tasks

The nature of the work means highly skilled staff are burdened with low-value, repetitive tasks like manual data entry, which takes their much-needed focus away from mission-critical tasks like analyzing data to make process improvements or adding value to customers. As long as manual processes keep directing employees’ attention from one paper document to the next, your organization won’t have the resources it needs to overcome inertia and remain competitive in the digital era.

How do you fix it? Find out live!

This brings us to the main question: How can transportation and logistics companies overcome these hurdles? Join us at CommunityLIVE to find out!

Attend the CEVA case study session Transportation & logistics: An ancient industry reimagined to explore these three key requirements to modernize on Wednesday, October 7 at 1:15 p.m. EDT or Thursday, October 8 at 8:30 a.m. EDT for the session geared to the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) regions.

These sessions are available in both the Essential and Complete packages. Register today and be sure to attend live, so you can ask questions and chat with our experts during the broadcast.

Cara McFarlane

Cara McFarlane

Cara McFarlane is the global solution marketing manager for Hyland’s insurance vertical. Her mission is to effectively position Hyland as the leading content services platform within the insurance market by... read more about: Cara McFarlane

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