If you share family photos on Flickr, manage your money with Mint, or stream music over iTunes or Spotify, you are experiencing the power of cloud computing. It gives us a way to connect with applications, with information and with each other—regardless of where we are at any given time.
Businesses are also embracing the cloud as a way to transform the way they work. With highly scalable, enterprise-class applications delivered as online web services, teams have ready access to new features, functions and information that can fuel better-informed decisions, drive better customer service and deliver a more profitable bottom line.
It is no secret the logistics industry is lagging behind in cloud adoption, but surveys show the tide is turning as companies are lured by three important value streams.
Value 1: Cloud Computing Expands Choices
Shipping capacity is growing exponentially with investments in new ships, new ports and other important infrastructure. But how can shippers and carriers now harness this environment to collaborate in important ways like matching capacity with need?
In a cloudless, low-tech world, fragmented point-to-point contact is the default—and it is limiting at best. Think, for example, about the time-consuming effort involved in matching shipment deadlines to carrier routes and schedules. Millions of records must be gathered and merged to power smarter decisions. You are likely to end up with an out-of-date and potentially less than comprehensive view of your options.
With the cloud, though, systems can talk freely across the breadth of the supply chain using XML, electronic data interchange (EDI) and other technology standards. Shippers and carriers can connect over web-based scheduling services to expose a broader range of choices based on the most current information set—not hours, days or weeks old batch updates. You are able to access the information you need, when you need it, and collaborate freely across companies and geographies.
Value 2: The Cloud Delivers High Quality, Timely Data
When you work across interoperable, cloud-based networks, real-time changes and updates become available immediately. You can see and respond to the latest information on routes, schedules, rates, regulatory rules and other details—posted directly by those who develop them.
Lag time becomes a thing of the past and the errors inherent in manual, point-to-point communication disappear. You are able to consume high-quality data for higher-quality outcomes.
Value 3: The Cloud Frees You to Build Your Brand
With cloud-based applications, you no longer have to devote time and resources to building cumbersome, stand-alone systems. Instead, you can focus on your core competency and leverage applications from other experts for capabilities outside your core. Email may be vital to your business, for example, but you don’t need to develop your own platform. You can rely on cloud-based email application suites that deliver lots of bells and whistles, while devoting your time, attention and resources to things that set you apart from your competition.
Perhaps you transport specialized types of cargo, provide special handling, offer faster delivery or have volume-based prices others can’t match. New, collaborative cloud portals can give you access to clients who have a matching need—faster and with less internal development. This is a way to take advantage of the distinguishing capabilities you made synonymous with your brand.
If cloud-based resources aren’t on your technology roadmap for 2015, it may be time to take a second look. You don’t want to be left behind by your competition.