The right supply chain technology makes all the difference, but with all the providers in the market, choosing the best provider can be difficult.
The logistics industry is more competitive, volatile, uncertain, and interconnected than ever. Businesses must have a streamlined and agile supply chain to keep up with the competition and the changing environment. Having the right transportation technology can improve everything from route efficiency to supply chain sustainability. However, not all digital solutions are created equal, and picking the right one for your business can be tricky if you don’t know what you need or how to separate promises and vision from actual results. Here are five things to consider when choosing a supply chain technology provider:
Your current resources and capabilities
The first thing you’ll want to do is audit your entire existing supply chain management practice. Think about your company, your sector, and the level of supply chain digitization you already have in place. Many businesses still function by using Excel spreadsheets and other manual methods, but these “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” ways of doing business are vanishing; the ongoing port congestion and the uptick in consumer demand seen during the pandemic is forcing the digital discussion at companies who have held on to old methods.
Try to find a technology compatible with the transportation management systems (TMS), logistics service providers (LSP), and operating and shipping software already in use across your supply chain. This will ensure members of your supply chain can easily transfer data across your supply chain management ecosystem.
The supply chain technology provider’s record
You’ll also want to consider your potential transportation technology provider’s track record. Choose a technology provider with a well-established network of partners, providers, and providers, as well as a proven track record working with those in your niche of the supply chain. After all, a technological solution from an unstable company with limited connections or a poor reputation won’t be equipped to help your business thrive. Finally, it might be tempting to embrace new entrants into the market, it is smart to find a company that has a long history in the supply chain and can use its wealth of experience, and historic data points, to provide better service.
Your level of logistics digitization
You should also look for a transportation technology provider that is committed to innovative digitization. Using a digital platform enhanced by artificial intelligence and machine learning can save you time and money both now and in the future. With the help of advanced algorithms and automatically generated customized reports, you’ll be able to predict and automate parts of your supply chain. This will give you more supply chain agility, help you maximize profits, and allow you to remain competitive.
Your system should also offer business data analytics capabilities that enable you to observe trends, avoid bottlenecks, have a better understanding of your costs, and optimize your routes and driver schedules. AI-driven platforms can even analyze your data to identify delayed shipments or contract errors. Some can even make accurate forecasts, so you can procure fleets and carriers now to improve your capacity and meet future demand.
Real-time, centralized tracking and visibility
Having centralized, real-time information and end-to-end visibility should be a top priority when picking a transportation technology provider. Tracking your shipment’s status via GPS or Internet of Things (IoT) devices and viewing route duration data throughout the entire shipping process in real-time will allow you to quickly make informed business decisions to optimize productivity and streamline your supply chain. For example, having access to transportation lead times, ETAs, and location data will enable you to reroute your shipment if there’s a delay.
Some technologies even forecast potential delays by collecting data on carriers farther along your route. They can then suggest faster alternative carriers, modes of transportation, or routes so you can keep up with customer demand and avoid shipment penalties.
Data security is crucial
Having all that data available at your fingertips and in the cloud also means you’ll want a technology provider that prioritizes information security. Your data will include customer names, item quantities, and other sensitive information, so having enhanced security is important.
Blume Global’s holistic, cloud-based platform offers users high levels of security and agility as well as plenty of real-time data collected from Blume’s extensive network. Blume was even named as a Challenger in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Real-Time Transportation Visibility Platforms. With this level of end-to-end visibility, users can optimize their transportation spend, improve customer service, and make well-informed business decisions.