Darren Matthews, Business Development Analyst for WiseTech Global, encourages you to consider costs when implementing newer, more efficient technology.
In the past, the technologies that transformed business often had to reach an affordability price point before they got your attention. Today, you don't have to wait long for the next best thing, as new solutions enter the market almost on a daily basis. If you migrate now, today's subscription-based applications will deliver the kinds of efficiencies that you could only dream about just a few years ago.
To get a sense of how far and wide productivity gains can be stretched, consider the smartphone in your pocket. It has more processing power than a skyscraper full of computers had in the 1970s. Through that small portal in the palm of your hand, you can access more information than a library's worth of encyclopedias. Yet it doesn't cost the same as a skyscraper or a library.
Clever people invested time and money in finding more effective ways of doing all these things. Computers got smaller; chips got more powerful. In short, we made better use of our available resources, resulting in an improvement to the quality of life for most people and no real loss for anyone.
The smartphone makers turn a profit, and smartphone users gain a device that essentially replaces their landlines, stereos, and acres of crowded shelf space. Everyone's happy. You could call this 'positive deflation.'
The recent collapse in the price of oil has made me think about the value attributed to a thing, and the often imperceptible efficiencies that steer its cost. Every price point has an economic upside and downside. A lower oil price, for example, is better than a higher one. This is certainly true for most developed countries since they tend to be consumer economies. Lower oil prices mean more money for consumers and less for producers. Yet historically high prices have led to enormous benefits that encouraged energy saving innovations: planes and cars are now lighter and more fuel efficient. These are profound improvements and investments that produce permanent gain.
During economic boom times, it's easy to carry a heavier workload and hire more staff to share the burden, all without really needing to ask yourself "can we really afford to do this?" But then the leaner days of the Global Financial Crisis arrive, and suddenly head count and the bottom line all take on far greater significance.
In the logistics sector, technology has stepped forward to save the day. It allows savvy Freight Forwarders to implement new solutions that help streamline their businesses, reduces the need for extra staff members, and essentially lets them do more with less.
Today's solutions allow staff to handle more shipments on a day-to-day basis and ensure the accuracy of data input. This is a two-way benefit: more volume with higher profit margin. Each job is automatically monitored for timely actions, alerts are sent when exceptions occur, and invoices are produced with no delay, resulting in faster payment.
When you implement a new system with sophisticated workflows, optimized processes, and configurable rules and screens - all within a global platform shared across your entire business - suddenly your worldview extends beyond just printing air way bills and handling manifests. Today's leading software gives you unfettered access to a complete toolkit. Essentially, you gain your own game. Software providers have found the way to put the library in the smartphone.
The freed-up cash from your efficiency gains could be spent on any number of things: improving your broader IT infrastructure, responding to new business opportunities, investing in better vehicles and equipment, or even putting it in the bank to prepare for leaner times.
You'll be able to identify and even improve profits from marginal areas of the business, regardless of whether you operate as a global logistics provider or work in international transport or warehousing.
If you're reacting to client expectations, then enhancing your processes is key to survival. If you're taking a proactive approach - and looking to truly leverage affordable, available technologies - you can go much further. Once you can truly offer clients services at a level you could only have dreamed about in the past, you have the potential to become a market leader.
Darren Matthews is Business Development Analyst for WiseTech Global
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