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Holistic changes necessary to thrive in connected future

The once change-resistant transportation industry has experienced rapid growth over the past several years. This breakneck growth rate has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The transportation leaders now have a chance to shape the future of an evolving industry through the decisions they make today. 

Changes in customer demand and rising expectations are helping force the transportation industry to evolve in order to meet the growth of this market. Consumer variability – coupled with growing expectations from transportation partners – has stressed the industry and created an impetus for innovation.

“The transportation industry is facing significant pressures, including driver shortages, infrastructure limitations and government and regulatory changes,” Deloitte Consulting LLP Managing Director Joe Chmielewski said. “At the same time, there have been incredible technological innovations. Things like the ubiquity of high-quality internet connectivity with the rollout of 5G networks and the scaling of autonomous robotics are creating an environment of change.”

Deloitte commissioned an online survey of supply chain leaders in early 2020. The 182 participants spanned the industry, including trucking, ocean, rail, manufacturing and retail. This research, coupled with conversational insights from leaders, helped Deloitte identify three pillars of strategic thinking companies can embrace in order to help thrive despite a changing landscape – the connected community, holistic decision-making and intelligent automation.

Through its work, Deloitte has broken down each of the three pillars of strategic thinking into specific success factors – taking the research from theoretical to practical. These success factors act as guideposts for companies hoping to adapt to a changing industry. Additionally, each success factor has been categorized by relative level of importance based on where a company sits in the transportation industry, helping companies create their own road maps. 

(Image: Deloitte)

These pillars are designed to help companies meet growing demand, stay on top of changing consumer expectations and navigate infrastructure limitations. All of these factors put pressure on the supply chain, and they have helped expose industrywide inefficiencies. Embracing a new mindset – and shifting business practices to align with it – can solve for inefficiencies and define the future of transportation.

“Infrastructure limitations have become a real issue. For example, port operations can be quite physically constrained in terms of footprint, but there is no reduction in demand throughout their operations. How do you solve for these constraints in a world where physically altering the infrastructure is becoming more difficult?” Chmielewski asked. “The answer lies in embracing the pillar of connected community — stitching together the fragmented underlying large and small players and make more efficient decisions.”

Deloitte Consulting LLP Senior Manager Ossama Ghazal emphasized that these pillars and success factors are meant to help companies chart their own destinies.

“Companies should be able to uniquely embrace the elements of these strategic pillars. We actually tested about 30 individual action items that organizations can adopt in order to succeed in the transportation industry,” Ghazal said. “Our research shows that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and organizations should prioritize their own goals depending on their place in the transportation ecosystem.”

Both Chmielewski and Ghazal expect to see dramatically increased emphasis on technology to solve for inefficiencies in the industry over the next few years – especially increased adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), more sophisticated tracking solutions and more resources dedicated to making autonomous trucks a functional option. 

Visit Deloitte’s website to learn more about how you and your company can prepare for a more connected future.

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Ashley Coker

Ashley is interested in everything that moves, especially trucks and planes. She covers air cargo, trucking and sponsored content. She studied journalism at Middle Tennessee State University and worked as an editor and reporter at two daily newspapers before joining FreightWaves. Ashley spends her free time at the dog park with her beagle, Ruth, or scouring the internet for last minute flight deals.