September 27, 2019

Report: Strong supply chains blend technology and humanity

The supply chain of the future requires a 60/40 blend of technology and human expertise, Coyote Logistics survey shows.

By DC Velocity Staff

Shippers and carriers advocate a 60-40 blend of technology and human expertise when it comes to developing the "supply chain of the future," according to a study by third-party logistics provider Coyote Logistics, released Thursday.

Coyote's Tech + Humanity research study asked shippers and carriers about the evolution toward a more digital world and its implications for supply chains. The company also released a Tech + Humanity assessment tool to help both groups discover which they favor more, technology or human expertise.

Key study findings include: 

  • Strategy demands human expertise. Respondents said human expertise is irreplaceable in creative, decision-making, and strategic-thinking tasks, such as communicating with customers and resolving shipment and delivery problems.
  • Automation streamlines operations. Shippers and carriers said technology is best positioned to strengthen operational functions such as managing inventory and booking shipments.
  • Blending is best. The study authors said that although the results point to many opportunities to incorporate technology into the supply chain, they say respondents did not identify any functions best served only by technology. "Instead, shippers and carriers advocated for a 60:40 mix of technology and human expertise in supply chain tasks."

"The best results happen when technology and humans are all working together, as we focus on keeping up with the changing demands of the market and consumer. Neither can exist in a silo," Christina Bottis, chief marketing officer at Coyote Logistics, said in a statement announcing the release of the study. "Technology provides visibility and data that's critical to building a supply chain strategy, while human expertise is the key to unlocking the real value of the tools, synthesizing data into actionable supply chain initiatives, and making the best strategic decisions for the business."

The study concludes by saying that to achieve the "ideal blend" of technology and human support, shippers and carriers should begin by evaluating their supply chains to identify which tasks technology can handle, and which are best left for human engagement. 

"From there, supply chain professionals should investigate opportunities to increase efficiency and identify gaps in the business that technology or skilled talent can fulfill," the authors said.

Coyote Logistics conducted the study in partnership with market research firm Martec Group Inc.

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