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‘Technology won’t solve all logistics problems,’ says expert

‘Technology won’t solve all logistics problems,’ says expert
‘Technology won’t solve all logistics problems,’ says expert
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Augmentation, autonomy, and integration are often used in logistics and supply chain conversations, but finding the ‘just right level’ is now more critical than ever. Logistics expert and Solving Work CEO Jessica Windham says technology will not “solve all logistics problems,” but striking the right balance is essential. 

“We are either seeing too much usage of technology than we can handle, or it’s solving too small of a problem to make an impact,” says Windham. 

She hosted a seminar after attending one of the largest business conferences on the logistics calendar. Last week, more than 4,600 leaders and innovators met in Vegas for Manifest: The Future of Supply Chain & Logistics to deliberate on the latest developments and trajectory of supply chain and logistics. 

With more than 250 speakers tackling different topics in the industry, technology dominated most of the conversations. 

Don’t lose the human touch 

“People are the foundation. Technology cannot substitute culture in your company,” assures Windham. 

But where does technology fit into this puzzle? She believes it will be a ‘tool’ that your company will use alongside skilled employees with that human touch. “It won’t replace humans,” she says. 

“Customer experience is a major part of driving this ‘people foundation’ in logistics. When your staff cannot “surprise and delight, that affects your brand,” she warns. “It’s tied directly to how employees feel inside the company.”

However, Windham acknowledges there is “nothing wrong” with leveraging technology to help build a company’s culture, boost staff productivity, and accelerate customer service. 

“When we bring technology in, let’s bring in the people with us. It’s all about upskilling people. More is not better; too many initiatives, too many KPAs, and too much technology will give your employees whiplash,” argues Windham. 

Combining technology with that “personal customer care touch” is what seems to be the sweet spot. “There are no shortcuts. Technology is not going to substitute culture. You have to put in the effort to care genuinely.”

Data without context is ‘bad’

Compromising that ‘personal touch’ can easily be done when a company uses “too much data in the workplace,” says Windham. 

“Data without context is bad, but missing data is worse than bad data.” While there seems to be an overwhelming uptake in using ChatGPT in small businesses to compensate for the staff shortage, it is not necessarily a good idea, says Windham.  

“Feeding the data into AI to suggest business decisions for us” could be risky, she argues. “Data without context will get us into trouble.”

Using tech to solve disruption problems

Windham says the majority of the disruptions in the logistics sector are ‘predictable,’ while only about 20% really need ongoing strategic problem-solving. 

The supply chain disruptions at the Red Sea linked to the conflict in Gaza are taking its toll on the business sector. The global supply chains are buckling under severe disruptions, which started in November 2023. Due to the risk, giant shipping companies divert journeys from the Red Sea. 

“We can imagine some of these [disruption crises] and see how they repeat [over the years].” She uses the example of navigating through an aviation crisis mid-flight. “In a cockpit, there are checklists for [every possible crisis]. But you still need pilots and skilled people to do this,” she says. 

Working smarter with tech

It’s exhausting to “reinvent the wheel” whenever the same crisis presents itself. Creating a roadmap to help you navigate through similar problems can save time and money. 

“We [humans] have to remain in control; it starts with how we treat our people and guide our employees,” says Windham.

While the world of logistics is ever-evolving, technology remains a vital and valuable tool. Technology should be embraced as businesses navigate disruptions and unforeseen impacts on operations. 

But, the importance of a balanced approach in a world flooded with technology is that it gives customers the impression that the business genuinely cares.

NOW READ: Navigating a course for supply chain and logistics in 2024

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About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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