The answer to this 21st-century question is not so clear.
Customers want the ability to engage with digital options, but personal touch always should be there for certain people in the shipping industry, who value that above all else. Some of us do everything online and try to accomplish tasks through service providers’ websites or cloud-based platforms. Technology companies have made some features available, but personal touch still fills in a lot of the gap.
In 20 years from now, we do not even know where current technology will take us, and right now, we do not even know what the shipping industry truly needs from technology to effectively utilize it and make shipping better.
Personally, I first got a cell phone, a Nokia 3210, when I was in middle school. After getting my phone, I did not know what to do with it as not all of my friends had a phone, so I could not find anyone to talk to or utilize my phone. For this reason, I sometimes left my phone at home and thought that I did not need it. The reason I am giving you this example is my childhood was around during the technology revolution era and we did not know how to utilize technology in our favor – we were just playing game on our phones. Right now, we have smartphones with endless features to utilize. Shipping is also facing a similar technology revolution. People do not know how to utilize since every company out there – they are all different in size and their business or management models are different.
Though many of us are service providers ourselves, we also have vendors and utilize their services.
As a person in shipping, I like to utilize online features wherever I can. However, if I face a problem, I would like to fix that problem with a real person rather than chatting with a computer or trying to find a solution through their website. Most people in the shipping industry want to embrace technology to engage with their service providers and customers, but still want a personal touch at some point to keep things under control.
Nowadays, we are talking about technology more and more to promote services online, such as Platform-Based Services, Cloud-Based Systems and EDI Connections to provide visibility, shipment-tracking systems, and data analytics to give a complete picture on shipping activities. On the other hand, as you are promoting your technology solutions in shipping, consider that the shipping industry we know is also changing as the supply chain has started to be digitalized, too.
Additionally, the arrival of e-commerce in logistics, cyber security in logistics, more computerized interactions with less of a human role, and the growth of blockchain, have all helped begin reshaping the shipping industry. The shipping carriers that we all work with daily are introducing platform-based or cloud-based technology solutions and service options, in the name of cutting labor and human interaction and making transactions easier than ever. Some carriers in the U.S. are also closing their customer service offices and moving customer service teams to overseas countries where labor costs are much lower.
So, while technology is reshaping the shipping industry, technology cannot replace certain things that are required when shipping, so we still need a person’s touch on things that are crucial and important.