Big data is revolutionizing many fields of business, and logistics is one of them.

The complex and dynamic nature of logistics makes it a perfect use case for big data. Big data can be used to optimize routing, streamline factory functions, and give transparency to the entire supply chain.

The 2018 Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Study examines the global outsourced marketplace and leading trends for shippers and 3PLs in the logistics industry.

This year’s study shows the continuation of two trends: the importance of the relationship between Shippers and 3PLs, and the importance of adapting to ever-changing technologies, including blockchain and automation.

It shows a large increase in the percentage of shippers seeking information technology (IT) services from 3PLs. However, the percentage of shippers indicating satisfaction dropped slightly this year from 65 percent to 56 percent. This is possibly due to higher expectations among shippers, as technology has improved, or because shippers are seeking enhanced analytical capabilities to help drive more effective supply chain decisions.

This year’s 3PL study investigates blockchain, too. Results show that while 30 percent of 3PLs and 16 percent of shippers see blockchain as a potential application, they have yet to engage with the emerging technology.

Technology is reframing demands on the workforce, particularly within the supply chain where automation, digitization and data-collection capabilities are growing rapidly. Supply chain leaders and logistics executives play even more critical roles as companies work to build more efficient and technologically-advanced supply chains.

Throughout all of these technological advances, the relationship between 3PLs and Shippers remains an important challenge.

79 percent of 3PLs and 64 percent of shippers said they have been involved in projects where the ability to execute quickly was directly impacted by lack of complete, accurate and consistent information.