Inbound Logistics | April 2023

ADVANCED Artificial intelligence, machine learning 44% Big data management 35% IoT, IIoT solutions 24% Robotics, automation 20%

Driverless trucks and delivery drones have yet to transform our industry. But certain advanced technologies are helping companies gain greater insight into their operations, produce better decisions, make dynamic adjustments to their networks, and increase productivity. Among the advanced solutions o ered by logistics IT vendors, those based on AI and/or machine learning lead the list. Forty-four percent of respondents say they o er that technology. Big data management is also popular: 35% of vendors incorporate that in their solutions. Less prevalent, but still significant, are the internet of things (IoT) and industrial internet of things (IIoT), cited by 24% of vendors, and robotics or other kinds of advanced automation, cited by 20% Demand for logistics IT solutions continues to be strong. In 2023, 93% of vendors in our survey saw their customer bases grow, the same percentage as in 2022. This is part of an ongoing trend: In 2020, 95% of respondents said they had added more customers in the most recent measurement period. And these are healthy increases. In 2023, more than half of vendors report that their customer bases have grown by 15% or more. The numbers have stayed flat for just 6% of vendors, and a mere 1% have lost customers. Clearly, new and better o erings are driving more shippers to embrace logistics IT solutions to help them overcome the challenges of a di£cult economy.

Blockchain 10% 3D printing 3%


1% Down 5%

No change or 0%


Up 15%

Up 20%



0% Did not report


Up 10%

0% Down 10% or more–


Up 5%


Cost is a perennial challenge for shippers. With transportation rates easing, the challenge for shippers now is how to capture those savings to o set expenses in other areas. “Where costs were inflated over the past two years, they now want to use technology and automation to identify and get those cost reductions,” says Britain Pavlic, director of transportation technology at enVista Corp., which is based in Carmel, Indiana. The tight labor market, with its pressure to increase wages, also poses a challenge. “The need to balance labor and automation is also something that we’re seeing quite a bit of,” says Tom Stretar, enVista’s vice president, technology. enVista’s automation and labor management teams work in sync to help companies determine how to get the best return on investments in automation and in labor management solutions. Darrell Ortiz, founder and CEO of CDM Software Solutions in Houston, says many of his customers face a special customer service challenge. “The freight forwarders and NVOs (non- vessel operating common carriers) are looking to expand their

tracking capability to the first mile and last mile,” he says. To meet this need, CDM o ers a simple app that intermediaries can give to drayage carriers, letting even very small truckers communicate digitally about pickups and deliveries. As shippers strive to please their customers while managing costs, capacity, and labor, one big obstacle they face is the volume of data they can mine for business intelligence. “They’re drowning in data,” says Ram Krishnan, global head, customer success, at Aera Technology. Any large company that makes and ships products has more than 100 applications, which generate as many as 200 operational key performance indicators. “Dashboards built for di erent levels of management have ballooned across the organization,” he says. The tools tell managers what has happened in the supply chain, but they don’t explain why it happened or what to do about it, Krishnan says. Aera Technology helps companies analyze what lies behind the data, o ering suggestions about how to mitigate problems and seize opportunities.

April 2023 • Inbound Logistics 59

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