Two Truths and a Lie: The Realities of the Digital Freight Revolution

November 25, 2019

There has been a lot of buzz around "digital freight matching" over the past couple years. Coyote — originally founded as a logistics software company in 2006 — is no stranger to using proprietary technology to digitally match freight.

As more and more providers enter the market, offering more and more digital solutions, the level of industry automation climbs ever higher.

With all this "disruption", how can supply chain professionals keep up? What role will people even play in the supply chain of the future? 

To help answer these questions, Coyote teamed up with Martec, a third-party market research firm, to conduct an independent study involving decision-makers and leaders from hundreds of shippers and carriers, asking how they apply technology in their networks.  

Here are a few things we confirmed to be true and false about the digital freight revolution based on their feedback.

 

The Supply Chain of The Future Will Be Fully Automated:

FALSE

 

Though some digital-first companies may try to convince you that technology alone is the key to cost savings and forward progress supply chain operations, that isn't entirely true. Our research shows that total automation is not even the goal.

While advancements in automation offer many benefits, technology alone is not enough to create a truly competitive shipping operation. 

"Technology is here to help the human element. It should be used for some supply chain work, but not relied on to do it all." 

- Director/Manager of Transportation at a $200M-$799M shipper

In our study, we asked respondents whether they preferred human interaction, technology or both across 13 key supply chain tasks. Technology did not place first in a single category. 

Instead, a combination of both people and technology was the clear favorite for optimal supply chain efficiency.

 

 

That proved to be true for both shippers and carriers across multiple business sizes. Generally speaking, participants on both sides of the market even had a consensus balance between the two: 60% technology and 40% humanity.

 

 

Since releasing our first mobile app back in 2013, Coyote has only increased our number of trained logistics specialists.

As we continue to bring in more shippers, carriers and loads, we continue adding people. This is because we have always understood what shippers and carriers want: a balance between technology and human support.

 

Technology Does Not Perform Equally Across All Tasks:

TRUE

 

Though human expertise or a combination of technology and human expertise led the results, there were tasks where technology solutions were more prominent.

For shippers, those tasks included managing inventory, scheduling, booking shipments, and planning and obtaining quotes.

"Certain areas of the supply chain are better for technology, such as scheduling, inventory, pulling analysis numbers, monitoring, etc."

- Director/Manager at an $800M+ shipper

 

 

Shippers of all sizes overwhelmingly agreed that even though they need a balance, supply chain technology is not a nice-to-have — it’s a necessity. They cannot empower their people to compete in today’s world without it.

New digital freight matching platforms have just recently introduced facility rating functionality.

Coyote started gathering ratings in 2017 because we have always looked for unique ways to apply proprietary technology and network scale to solving logistics problems. With over 110,000 facility reviews to date and over 10,000 shipments per day, we have a lot of insights to share. 

 

 

Human Expertise is Irreplaceable:

TRUE

 

"I think that customer interaction and communication will not be replaced by tech."

- Director/Manager of Logistics at a $200M-$799M shipper

Shipper and carrier respondents of every business size all believe that people play at least some part — no matter the supply chain task.

That’s a powerful reminder that, regardless of automation, human expertise is crucial in every facet of the supply chain. There were three areas where respondents clearly favored people over machines: 

 

Shippers confirmed that human expertise is most essential for tasks involving critical thinking and relationship building.

"Human ideas and problem-solving skills still cannot be replaced by technology."

- Director/Manager of Logistics at a less than $199M shipper

Coyote prioritizes relationships, including a single point-of-contact. This trusted relationship and centralized model empowers our people to provide shippers and carriers with personalized guidance, actionable insights and innovative supply chain solutions.

 

Our Truth

To succeed in today’s rapidly changing industry, it’s clear that you need both: innovative, easy-to-use technology and smart people to unlock the power that digital solutions can provide.

Coyote is the best of both worlds. We have been committed to proprietary technology since day one.

We leverage over 12 years of industry experience, shipment data, and shipper and carrier relationships to develop technology solutions that provide you with easier access to one of the largest 3PL networks in North America and Europe.

We have the technology to help you keep up, the experts to drive your business forward and the network to get your freight covered today.

 

 
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