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Industry in Focus: Mobility in the Logistics Industry

Despite numerous mergers and acquisitions, activity in the logistics industry during 2016 was relatively somber according to the State of Logistics Report. The M&A wave slowed down considerably in 2017 and new challenges materialized, including the lack of talent. However, 2018 is the start of a new era. Market research analysts by Technavio indicates the global logistics market will grow steadily at a CAGR of 7% up till 2021. Fueling this growth is the adaptation of emerging technologies such as automation and digitization.

Industry leaders believe technology improvements, especially in tricky areas such as fleet operations, will have a positive impact on the industry and help them withstand the growing competition. One technology that has especially stolen the limelight in 2017 is mobility.

Why the Adoption of Mobility Solutions is Quick in the Logistics Industry

According to VDC Research’s study ‘Taking Advantage of Apps and App Modernization in Warehousing’, warehouses are more complex than they were 10 years ago. Factors such as asset utilization and regulatory pressures can significantly affect overall productivity. Mobility, however, has given logistics enterprises “an edge”.

The study highlights the role of handhelds, wearables, and other mobile devices in delivering significant productivity gains. Mobile devices also deliver new opportunities for agility and speed, especially among younger workers. Immediate benefits aside, mobility is valuable in the long run as it fuels the migration from manual and paper-based processes. As a result, logistics companies enjoy improved utilization of available resources and enhanced efficiency in storage, inbound and outbound handling, and other critical operations.

Other ways mobility is transforming the supply chain are:

Benefits of Mobile Forms

The mobile trucking app market has been steadily on the rise. Frost & Sullivan estimates the size of this market to have hit $35.4 billion in 2015 alone. One of the reasons mobile trucking apps have grown popular is the reduced dependency on paper logs. Using mobile forms such as a Daily Log form, drivers can document their logs and securely store them in the company’s database. With features like Location and Time/Date Pickers, companies can collect data and compute important metrics like driving time and mileage.

Detection of Performance and Productivity Gaps

As important as visibility is for logistics companies, ensuring it was a challenge, until the introduction of mobility in the industry. Logistics mobile apps now help managers with functions such as transportation optimization, load management, and load planning. The added visibility, as a result, allows them to mitigate performance gaps, enhance their agility, predict or address inventory problems, and make better business-critical decisions.

Quick Collection of Real-Time Information

Timing is everything in supply chain management. With mobile forms and apps, logistics companies can enhance their supply chains with real-time data. As a result, they can operate quickly, accurately, and more effectively. Some of the benefits of real-time data in supply chain management include:

  • Added Transparency into the Supply Chain – Mobile forms and apps allow drivers to communicate potential delays and slowdowns in real-time. As a result, enterprises can take measures to avert issues that affect their bottom line.
  • Higher Customer Satisfaction Rates – Today’s consumers want information, and they want it immediately without having to pick up the phone or type an email. With mobility, companies can receive and communicate real-time information to their clients.
  • Improved Processes – Real-time data can provide visibility into longer term issues such as inefficient locations. As a result, enterprises can improve how their supply chain operates.

Attraction and Retention of Top Talent

Talent is one of the biggest challenges facing service providers in this industry. As companies raise the bar to at least meet their customers’ expectations, there’s a growing need for experienced professionals. With innovative technologies such as mobility solutions, enterprises can attract top talent. They also get to retain them as top technology creates an exciting, dynamic environment where employees can further their careers. In addition to automating several mundane processes such as data entry, mobile forms and checklists can be used to train employees and promote good practices.

Unfortunately, Surveys Show Enterprises Struggle to Implement Mobility

A global study conducted by Arlington Research shows 70% of CEOs don’t fully understand the role of mobility despite mobile devices being an integral part of service delivery. The study reveals 69% are ready to invest in mobile solutions, but are unable to take the next step toward integration. Some of the reasons for this are:

  • Lack of Resources – Studies show that the entire logistics industry is working to capacity due to the tough competition. As a result, there are barely any resources to commit to innovation. This situation is particularly noticeable in small to medium sized companies.
  • Worker Safety – Logistics companies are at a high risk of occupational accidents. Some decision makers believe the addition of mobile devices and applications can further distract workers, causing accidents and serious injuries.
  • Use of Legacy Systems – A considerable number of logistics companies have legacy systems integrated. Upgrading these isn’t only expensive, but also very time consuming.
  • Universal Applicability – The large number of mobility solutions on the market can lead to the lack of clarity and excessive strain. Some companies have tried making their own adjustments to standardize solutions only to fail “catastrophically”.

These factors, however, aren’t necessarily barriers to mobilizing logistics companies. For instance, you can opt-out of hiring a mobile app developer and pick a zero-code enterprise mobile app development platform instead. This option delivers several benefits, including:

  • Better Utilization of Resources – No-code platforms allow business users with almost no coding knowledge to create sophisticated enterprise mobile apps and forms. Moreover, most components have already been coded. So, users don’t need to spend much time creating mobility solutions. As for money, a considerable number of platforms are quite inexpensive. Few even offer the creation of one app for free. Therefore, logistics companies can save considerably on app development costs.
  • More Control Over Design – From experience, logistics managers and workers can collaborate to come up with application designs which do not distract workers. Some app development platform providers may also offer their insight based on previous experiences with clients.
  • Backward Compatibility – Several platforms offer backward compatibility, i.e. their newer, modern mobile apps can work with legacy systems and character encodings. However, enterprises should seriously consider modernizing their legacy systems. Not only will this reduce maintenance costs, it’ll optimize efficiencies and processes across the organization.

The Bottom Line

Mobility has the power to revolutionize firms in the logistics industry. While it may take a little time and require a major overall transformation, it’ll deliver benefits within one to two years for sure. As a result, companies will thrive despite the current competition across the industry.

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