The transportation industry has experienced a technological revolution of sorts over the past several years. The mandated move from paper logs to electronic logging devices (ELDs) in late 2017 made every carrier an interconnected carrier. The resulting innovation boom led to a wide swath of new, high-tech solutions to age-old industry problems, ultimately highlighting the importance of information technology (IT) professionals in the transportation space.
As the industry has continued to embrace technology, expectations surrounding information access and transparency have grown. This is most obvious surrounding shipment visibility. Once a nice-to-have perk, virtually every shipper now expects near-time or real-time updates about their shipments’ status.
“Over the past several years, anyone who works in transportation has seen the ever-growing need to provide more real-time shipment visibility,” Chad Crotty, vice president of sales at DDC FPO, said. “The best way to provide the level of insight companies are asking for is through advanced technological solutions that enable seamless integration.”
Due in large part to varying levels of technological sophistication among companies, achieving that seamless integration can prove challenging.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, IT jobs are expected to grow at a significantly higher rate than the average occupation over the next decade — about 11% across all industries. The same trend of demand is expected throughout the transportation industry.
It is common for carriers to use the IBM AS/400 system. A product of the 1980s, this system has largely fallen out of interest, with new programmers preferring to focus on more modern solutions. As a result, many programmers proficient in the system have recently retired or plan to retire soon.
A lack of qualified IT talent, combined with carriers’ tendency to run on tight margins and U.S. IT salary averages, has made it all too easy for carriers to put IT hiring on the back burner. This approach is no longer sufficient in a rapidly changing tech landscape.
“All the carriers we have talked to recognize that expanding their IT resources and focusing on seamless integration is important. At the same time, their primary focus is to move freight, not develop technology,” Crotty said. “The biggest challenges they face include budget constraints and lack of available talent.”
Despite these difficulties, Crotty noted that the industry has largely shown real dedication to rising to the challenge.
“We are seeing the industry embrace expansion to meet demands of customers and supply chain partners. We expect to see more growth in cloud computing, data management and information/data security,” Crotty said. “Last year, we conducted a survey with our clients and found 75% were interested in system structure automation related to API.”
DDC aims to help growth-oriented companies circumvent common roadblocks and embrace innovation through accessible IT outsourcing. This can be a good solution for companies that are having trouble recruiting talent, hoping to add new software features within a budget or needing to develop new products without putting additional strain on their existing staff.
The company’s expertise encompasses all the things carriers are most focused on, including systems development, database development, .NET programming and e-commerce.
While innovating and adding technology is important, Crotty emphasized the importance of doing it right to prevent failures later down the road. Partnering with a well-established outsourcing partner like DDC can ensure solutions are both reliable and secure.
“It has become a common occurrence for carriers to get hacked. This basically shuts down the business for a period of time or causes reversions to pen-and-paper methods,” Crotty said. “It is one thing to invest in tech, but if you do not have the right people in place, you’re creating a bigger problem.”
DDC has been working to help transportation companies outsource their business processes over the past 16 years. When it comes to IT outsourcing, the company is well-versed at supporting a carrier’s tech projects while simultaneously reducing costs, decreasing turnaround times and allowing internal IT resources to focus their efforts elsewhere.