In the beginning, there were Telex machines. Today, there is e-commerce. An online industry so revolutionary that it could be coined as the primary factor for the global increase in expedited air cargo shipments and the continuing rise of air freight volume in general. But can the world of air freight keep up with increasing demand and the impending implementation of automation? In short, yes. But only if certain digitalized changes take place across the board – and fast.
The workforce is evolving from limited technological skills to millennials who have never known life without the internet. This is a whole new ballgame. A faster paced ballgame where forwarders and logistics partners will be left in the preverbal dust, if they do not take the relevant steps in autonomy’s direction to keep up. Effectiveness can no longer reside in a manual workflow. Efficiency, after all, is automation derived from minimal output producing maximal results. Instantaneous is the new normal.
“Real-time shipment tracking”
“Instant rate request”
Again, immediacy is expected. We are living in a world of non-existent attention spans compounded with no patience for waiting. This occurrence is forcing the air cargo industry to expedite more than just freight. Regardless of the age of the consumer, an urgency for efficiency and speed is being demanded across the industry. Faster website, faster quote, faster email response, faster shipment. The list goes on, but the common denominator is speed. Standard practices are evolving to take online form. A more digitized form for both convenience, transparency and haste.
As a logistical provider, you must always be ready for implementation and evolution. Technology advances at such incomprehensible rates, the next best thing is happening while your applying the last best thing. Mobile friendly is the new website friendly.
“Customers want fast responses to website inquiries, including shipment tracking and, of course, cost quotes. One of the primary reasons shippers leave a vendor these days is the inability to provide instant price estimates. Providing web-based automation for customers has become a corporate imperative for any freight forwarder or airline in the cargo business.” [Brandon Fried, executive director of the U.S. Airforwarders Association]
Once autonomy is a fully functioning process involving daily tasks, security and data privacy become high priority issues and understandable concerns. Forwards must allow full transparency to customers accompanying a near instantaneous response to any privacy inquiries.
On the other hand, forwarders do understand the importance of contact and human interaction. Evolving to a completely automated system could cause more harm than good. Supply chain management comes without aforementioned issues and complexities that must be resolved over the phone or person to person in real time. Air freight specialists understand this and in part could be the reason behind the slow adoption of automation industry wide.
Nevertheless, automation is now. Is your current logistics partner up to the digital task?