In this day and age, it is not uncommon to hear about the next market that is going to get “Uberized” or even automated–especially the 3PL marketplace. There are many who believe that transportation market is the next market ripe for digital maturity. While many of them are right about the 3PL market being ripe for a shift, most of them seem to be focusing on the incorrect aspect of where this is happening. The coming “disruption” in the transportation marketplace is not happening up front in the sales and operations of the business where the customers and carriers can see it. Rather, it is happening in the back office where efficiencies are being gained each day. These technologies are allowing companies to do the same work with less people, as well as scale their businesses with their customers’ needs without much need for additional support from new hires. There are several places where companies are making big strides in this regard using modern technology, and there are providers in these areas that currently exist that are taking 3PLs to the next level right along with them.
"While most are focused on how to get their Uber marketplace up and running, there are some looking at the progress of technology"
Carrier Tracking–Where is my freight? This has long been the bane of many in the transportation marketplace looking for efficiency. Since the dawn of the 3PL industry, this has been a manual process that was primarily relegated to employing hoards of people to make and receive calls to access the where abouts of drivers moving their freight each day. As technology has evolved, bigger carriers developed EDI to help provide satellite locations of their equipment, and carriers have even started putting their locations on websites. However, the cost of this technology never allowed it to get far enough into the marketplace to trickle down to the real meat of the market, which are the carriers that have 1 to 5 trucks. Enter providers like FourKites, Project44, 10-4 systems, and others that are beginning to crack open the tracking marketplace and make it manageable for providers to expect their entire carrier base to provide “real time” tracking updates on their freight.