July 21, 2021
In recent years, the global transportation industry has been actively catching up with other industries by digitizing its core function — assigning a shipper’s freight to the right carrier for the job, something that some logistics companies in 2021 still conduct manually, using spreadsheets and phone calls.
Without fully understanding digital freight networks, many industry veterans fear that the technology revolution happening within the industry will eradicate jobs and the value of human relationships.
There’s still pervasive misunderstanding about digital freight networks — how they operate and differentiate from asset-based carriers and the traditional freight brokerage model.
“Technology rarely eliminates the need for human capital,” said Zach Strickland, director of freight market intelligence at FreightWaves. “It more often increases the efficiency of it. Looking at the U.S. economy over the past 30 years is a perfect example of this. Technology has improved vastly and jobs have increased.”
Whether digital, human or some combination — shippers need intermediaries to locate capacity for their freight, a fact that became more obvious over the past year with the unprecedented disruptions of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
In April 2020, Gartner published a report defining the digital freight network as a new kind of freight partner, one that offers shippers real-time pricing and guaranteed capacity. The report called the digital freight network “an open, fully connected marketplace that uses machine learning, automation and other software services to efficiently connect shippers and carriers.”