Data and partnerships. Two keys to success for shippers as they navigate the revolutionary world that is quickly consuming the freight ecosystem. That was the big takeaway from a discussion between Adam Robinson, vice president of marketing for Cerasis, and Jenny Xu, CEO of Carggo, on the second day of the FreightWaves LIVE Chicago conference on Nov. 13.
Both speakers talked of the importance of collecting data, using that data strategically, and forming partnerships to help break through the technological hype to get to real solutions for shippers and carriers.
"We're hanging our hat on practical tools for shippers," Robinson said. "As technology providers, it is our responsibility to educate the shippers."
Cerasis is a third-party logistics provider offering over-the-road shipment expertise.
Xu, whose company offers a digital freight fulfillment platform, said the challenge is separating what sounds good from what works.
"With Carggo, we focus on what is real," she said. "There's a lot of technology out there, and some of it is more hype than reality."
Xu noted that it's nice to see the technology revolution reach the logistics industry. "Ten years ago, [the technology] was on the shipper side and the logistics was the cost center," she said.
Robinson said Cerasis is developing more partnerships to help it respond quickly to changing demands, and Xu noted the quickly advancing push in track-and-trace solutions.
"‘Out for delivery' can't cut it anymore," Robinson added, noting that customers want full visibility at all times.
"Track-and-trace is not the end game, it's really the beginning to get folks to do the calling necessary to provide the value add," Xu said.
With all the technology currently in the space, Robinson said it's important to help shippers "cut through the noise." Part of that, though, is remembering that relationships still matter.
"[Technology] has driven awareness for the shipper that digital freight disruption is coming," Xu said. "Relationships, especially for SMBs (small and medium-size businesses), are important; one load is not just a missed opportunity, it could be a missed customer. If you are talking about a delivery window missed, the dock might be closed and the pickup might be the next morning.
"Our conversations with the SMBs are that they need to be ready. You can be a late adopter, but you can't not be an adopter."
Robinson pointed to the mounds of data now available and how one data set can build upon another. This, he said, will increase the value that freight managers have within organizations.
"Freight managers are going to continue to add value, and they will be the future leaders [of the industry]," he said.
The combination of the two — data and partnerships — will allow for faster and cheaper innovation.
"At the end of the day, this is a critical ecosystem that is responsible for getting a consumer that two-hour delivery," Xu said.
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