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Report: Technology is transforming the logistics industry

Communication technology and integrated platforms top list of software investments that will yield the highest ROI for logistics operations.

Technology is transforming the logistics sector, but smart software investments can help companies keep up with the rapid pace of change, according to a report from communications software provider Front, released September 18.

Front's 2019 Logistics Tech Trends Report surveyed more than 400 IT, operations, and customer service leaders in the transportation and logistics industry to discover why companies say technology is critical for scaling their business, how the landscape of logistics technology is changing, and to uncover the software investments with the highest potential for return-on-investment (ROI). 

The study found that 56% of companies spend more than $100,000 on software every year, and that most logistics and transportation companies are using technology to transform their business and "digitize" the supply chain: 

  • 81% said they expect their software spending to increase over the next two years.
  • 84% said they are interested in introducing some sort of automation into their supply chain.
  • 77% said they have digitized their operations.
  • 71% said they spend more than five hours using workplace technology every day (including email, software, and collaboration tools).

Among the technologies most likely to yield the highest ROI, the study identified the following: 

  • Communication technology. Half of logistics leaders surveyed said that scaling to meet demand is their biggest challenge and 54% cited managing high email volume. "Investments around email and phone will provide lasting benefits, as they continue to be the epicenter of customer and team communication," the researchers said.
  • Integrated platforms. Tools that "play nice" with your existing technology will provide the most visibility and yield higher adoption, the researchers also said.
  • Workflow automation. "You don't have to overhaul your entire supply chain or install robots before you can see efficiency gains from automation," according to the researchers. Making workflow improvements to existing systems can help companies reap big rewards, they added, saying that companies should "start small and try using automation to improve your existing workflows."
  • Customer service tools. Almost all firms surveyed said that customer service is a critical piece of their company's overall business strategy. "People will increasingly expect to be served anytime, from anywhere around the globe, which means you need a platform that can scale to meet rising demand," the researchers said.

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