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5 steps to balance technology and humanity in your business

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The logistics industry is changing rapidly. Increased expectations from customers — both B2C and B2B — demand fast and flawless service at increasingly competitive rates.

Balancing these demands is a challenge. Logistics leaders and leaders across industries know they need to leverage both technology and human expertise throughout their business operations.

As Coyote revealed in our original research study, Technology + Humanity: Striking the Balance in Your Business, shippers and carriers of all sizes identified a 60-40 split — 60 percent handled by technology and 40 percent handled by people, with notable differences by business function.

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Understanding your ideal balance is one thing — achieving it is another. Regardless of your optimal ratio or where you are in your digital journey, you need a plan to get to the next phase of your evolution. 

To help inform your strategy, we combined insights from our study, our proprietary market data and common business challenges to create five steps for those just starting to modernize their companies.

Before you build a strategy, it’s important to understand your current tech-to-human ratio. Not sure where you stand? Take Coyote's two-minute assessment to find out.

1. Start the conversation.

Work with your company leadership to critically evaluate your business strengths and weaknesses. What needs prioritization in the short term if you’re going to continue to grow as a business in the long term? 

Considering your biggest challenges (and how equipped you are to deal with them) is a good place to start. Here are what 200 supply chain leaders identified as their biggest challenges:

To better optimize your business, work with tech and subject matter experts at your company. This could mean engaging a team of relevant stakeholders, syncing your priorities with executive leadership, securing IT’s input on your technology strategy or talking to human resources about the skillsets you need to refine or recruit.  

With a thorough evaluation of your business in terms of balancing technology and people, you’ll best position yourself to begin a successful evaluation of technology solutions.

2. Start with the basics.

No two businesses are alike — every technology and humanity solution will vary. Look at both areas in your own business first and consider whether you need to invest in more digital solutions, more human expertise or a greater combination of the two. 

Keep in mind that out of 13 supply chain tasks, shippers did not think a single one should be handled by 100 percent human or 100 percent technology — some degree of "both" was consistently the most frequent choice.

3. Call in the experts.

Every business has its own strengths and weaknesses. Consider some of the weaker areas from your critical assessment and determine whether you want to commit resources to building up competency internally or looking outside for help. 

Outsourcing can be a fast, effective way to gain efficiency while freeing up your people to focus on your core business objectives. According to our research, regardless of size, shippers leverage third-party suppliers to improve efficiency. That said, as businesses scale, they tend to outsource a greater portion of their supply chain tasks. 

4. Combine technology and human expertise to forecast. 

In our study, we asked shippers to provide their top expectations when selecting a new technology platform. Roughly 45 percent expect their technology investment will help create more accurate budget forecasts to help prepare for market fluctuations; this was the No.1 expectation. 

We also asked shippers which technology solutions they want but don’t possess. More than half said better freight market forecasting tools; this was the second overall choice behind advanced AI solutions.  

These two competing statistics tell us that though shippers expect technology investments to give them better insights, there is still room for improvement. 

Though it's a technical, data-driven task, creating a business forecast can be as much of an art as a science. To build the most accurate forecasts possible, shippers combine human expertise — informed by a solid understanding of market conditions — with technology tools. By doing the same for your business, you can help ensure it’s prepared to navigate the current and future market.

5. Keep up with new solutions.

Technology is changing every day. New solutions — and challenges — are constantly coming to market. More than 30 percent of shippers in our study mentioned keeping up with the latest technology solutions as a top challenge, ranking fourth overall.

To create and execute your technology and humanity strategy, you need to stay informed on industry trends and new technology through a variety of sources to get different perspectives. Here are the top sources that shippers utilize to stay current:

Digital transformation is happening throughout the global supply chain. Companies of all sizes, in every vertical, must evolve. That means new technology, but it also means more — and more skilled — people.

Read and download Coyote’s research report to see the full results.

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About Longitudes

Longitudes explores and navigates the trends reshaping the global economy and the way we’ll live in the world of tomorrow: logistics, technology, e-commerce, trade and sustainability. Which path will you take?

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