The Role of Information Technology in Logistics

In recent years, the logistical landscape has become a rapidly evolving business environment, and as such, more and more enterprises are looking for that competitive edge to gain a larger market share. As in most industries, it is toward technology-led...


In recent years, the logistical landscape has become a rapidly evolving business environment, and as such, more and more enterprises are looking for that competitive edge to gain a larger market share. As in most industries, it is toward technology-led solutions that team leaders are looking as a vehicle for innovation in their supply chain processes.

 

Growing Trends

In the world of logistics there is a constant need to do things faster and more efficiently. Order cycle times seem to be ever shrinking, and pressures from customers call for a finely-tuned focus on supply chain execution. Transportation management systems (TMS) are the IT answer to these demands and there seem to be some growing trends within the industry.

Significant upgrades will be seen in the coming years as many facilities are still using outdated technology from 10 or more years ago, before mobile computing was a key player in the business world. TMS is also advancing beyond simple execution and utilizing data to help shippers make sound decisions. This automated, real-time marketing analysis will become commonplace in the years to come.

A great push has also been seen for a more holistic approach in the development of TMS that is completely functional without the high purchase and maintenance costs some systems come with. Many third party logistics providers are now coming up with a TMS that their customers can share with their own shippers and vendors, thus cutting costs greatly.

 

Specific Types of Technology

At this point in the game, no one can argue that the introduction of IT to logistics will determine the profitability of each company who chooses to use it. But, besides TMS, what other specific types of technology will give leaders within this sector the competitive edge?

Identification technologies, like bar coding and radio frequency identification (RFID) will prove to be the most useful additions to any system. Also, accurate data acquisition technologies such as electronic notepads, robotics, voice recognition and optical scanning will save time and money in the tracking of products and shipments.

Besides the time and money saving benefits of these emerging technologies, businesses will also find they are easy to implement and simple to integrate.

 

Looking Toward the Future

As more companies enter the arena of ecommerce, they will require better and more coordinated techniques and systems that will streamline their logistics processes. Multi-agent systems will play a larger role in handling specific technologies on the Internet; and, as the world continues to expand and become an even larger global marketplace, companies will have to consider technologies that facilitate ease of communication.

All of this points to the fact that IT managers will no doubt play a much larger role within the logistics sector in the near future, as increasingly robust and sophisticated technologies will require adept handling of multi-channel systems and proper strategic management. Incorporating IT and other technologies into the supply chain will remain a top priority of logistics companies in the years ahead.

With the right technologies in place, and the right team to handle them, how companies will be able to reduce operational expenses, cut lead time, facilitate express distribution of goods, reduce manual errors and retain satisfied customers. In other words, incorporating IT will give companies the competitive advantage they need in today’s competitive marketplace.

 

Pete Kontakos is a contributor that discusses ITIL certification and online education.

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