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Technology as change agent: how is it likely to affect your business?

New technologies telematics, in-vehicle cameras, cloud computing and specialised software are increasingly playing a significant role in the South African business-to-business transportation/SCM sector.

Both professional transporters and companies using vehicles in support of their core business are asking:

  • Which technologies should be adopted – and when
  • How does one deal with the massive complexity of ‘plugging’ it all together?
  • How does technology change the way business is done
    • and how should it be deployed to create a competitive advantage over traditional competitors and new business entrants?

If one looks back at the journey of certain popular technologies in South Africa, such as telematics, it becomes clear how quickly technological tools can become indispensable for business in a relatively short period of time.

The rate of technology deployment in the SA transportation/SCM industry is set to accelerate in the years to come.

Since the growth of telematics in the last 15 years, so much has happened in terms of the inter-compatibility of standalone systems through the use of the Internet, that it can be argued that the rate of technology deployment in the SA transportation/SCM industry is set to accelerate in the years to come.Binder1

Technology will become the key change agent to disrupt the transportation and supply chain management industry

Like in other industries before, such as banking and retailing, technology will become the key change agent to disrupt the transportation and supply chain management industry – and the way processes are executed.

Collectively, technologies such as digital trade exchanges, telematics, in-vehicle cameras, cloud computing and others, have the potential to lead to the following disruptions or changes.

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How and where will these ‘disruptive’ effects occur first and in which sequence should transport/ SCM operators put these puzzle pieces together for their own competitive benefit?

As is outlined in the slide below, there are very few activities which will not be enabled or transformed by the potential of technology in the next decade.

Having said this, leading truck manufacturers are currently testing unmanned trucks to drive autonomously in parts of the USA. This just goes to show that in time digitisation is set to dramatically impact the most fundamental premise of roadbased transport, namely that a person is required to drive goods from one point to the next!

Coming back to the situation today and in the next couple of years, what are someof the most pertinent competitive benefits for SA transport and SCM operators in adopting technologies to support their businesses?

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What does this mean for SA operators – and what to do?

Technology-related changes is set to everyone involved in the B-2-B transport business; professional transporters more so than businesses where transport is a business enabler. Any advice?

  • Embrace the technology changes; they are not going away;
  • Think systemically before deciding on any one technology;
  • Cluster technologies around benefits for your business such as risk mitigation, efficiency, cost reduction, customer satisfaction and others;
  • Invest in a proper IT-strategy and architecture that allows for elements to be systematically added and taken away over time; and
  • Select the right kind of technology partners, which will do the ‘plumbing’ on your behalf.
 
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