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Four ways have been identified for transport, logistics and fleet management companies to make the most of technologies such as IoT to revolutionise their business and make it fit for a digital future. By Tim Sherwood, VP, Mobility & IoT Solutions, Tata Communications

New technologies are enabling digital transformation across industries – and the transport, logistics and fleet management sectors are arguably amongst the biggest beneficiaries. These organisations are already leveraging mobility services, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) to automate their services, while process management and cloud-based applications are revolutionising the sector too.

As is often the case, with disruption comes competition – and we are seeing new entrants disrupt the transport, logistics and fleet management industries with the introduction of new, more customer-centric business models. Given this changing landscape, it should not be a question of whether these organisations should embrace digital transformation, but how. We have identified four ways for transport, logistics and fleet management companies to make the most of technologies such as IoT to revolutionise their business and make it fit for a digital future.

1. Business Without Borders

To fast-track global growth and ensure sustainable cross-border expansion, businesses need the right strategy combined with best-in-class global infrastructure and information tools. In transport, logistics and fleet management, transparency and real-time availability of information is an absolute must. That is why a key priority is mobile connectivity services that can be relied on – wherever in the world the business might expand to. Consistent asset tracking, maintenance data and driver efficiency management, for example, require reliable mobile access for IoT services in each country.

Connectivity alone, however, is of limited value without a full platform management approach, including SIM provisioning, APIs, device management, security, cloud access and data analytics. Only with these end-to-end services in place will a business be all set to accelerate into new markets and geographies. Even better, this foundation puts transport, logistics and fleet management companies in a better position to innovate with new technologies, competitive new services and best-fit business models to generate extra revenue.

Given the setup complexity that global mobile services can bring, this significant challenge is best handled by a single partner who can provide access to global mobile networks and connectivity agreements with multiple network operators – saving the business admin time and hassle.

2. Enhanced Productivity And Efficiency

Using digital and IoT to can enable seamless, continuous multi-platform collaboration and pave the way to greater efficiency and productivity gains for transport, logistics and fleet management companies.   

Take the case of driver downtime – distance and time overruns can cause huge costs for firms. In the US, for example, it is reported that large logistics firms can lose up to US$515,000 per minute due to idle time for each driver. Avoidable delays in routing and loading can also hit margins hard – and the ever-increasing complexity of supply chain management is turning the pressure up even higher.

Just consider how much more efficient and productive any business can be when employees, partners and customers collaborate seamlessly across platforms, with ubiquitous access to data and applications. So, it is no wonder these companies are looking to embed more effective IoT connectivity into their supply chain management processes. This brings us to the next area for consideration…

3. Better Partner And Customer Engagement

Creating a great IoT customer experience is not just for B2C companies and end customers. It is important at all stages of the supply chain, both for B2B and B2C services. Let us imagine a supervisor of the goods-in team at a busy factory that has adopted lean manufacturing and Just-in-Time delivery. In this context, having access to accurate deliveries information is paramount. IoT can improve their experience – and efficiency – by providing real-time access to delivery information easily and intuitively.

It is all about building omnichannel transparency through the delivery chain while enhancing engagement, awareness and loyalty for all parties and partners.

To make a success of an integrated supply chain, transport, logistics and fleet management companies need to provide a consistent experience across different channels and platforms, adopt a connected communications system to avoid information silos, and have the ability to scale solutions as demand fluctuates. Critical for all of this is to invest in a secure IT infrastructure that supports these new services and capabilities.

4. Minimise Risk, Maximise Trust

As shown by global cyber-attacks such as WannaCry and NotPetya, any business needs an effective risk strategy to safeguard data and applications from potential threats, wherever that business is on its digital transformation journey. Additionally, it is crucial to ensure service continuity and near-zero business disruption in the event of a security breach. That is why transport, logistics and fleet management companies need to adopt an adaptive security strategy. This means shifting from an ‘incident response’ mindset to a ‘continuous response’ mindset.

Typically, there are four stages in an adaptive security lifecycle: preventative, detective, retrospective and predictive. Preventative security is all about blocking attacks before they affect the organisation or make it more difficult for an attacker to wreak havoc, giving the organisation more time to disable the attack in process. The aim of the detective security layer is to reduce the time that attackers spend within the system, limiting the subsequent damage. Retrospective security is like a vaccine that protects you against diseases – it turns intelligence about past attacks into future protection. Predictive security plugs into the external network of threats, monitoring hackers underground to proactively anticipate new attack types.

When it comes to safe device and cloud connectivity, requirements range from ensuring access to IoT data is kept secure over a private network to asset monitoring and effective policy controls. And, while plenty of robust security services are available to safeguard businesses from cyber threats, the added assurance of a secure mobile connectivity environment ensures greater protection for data – and greater peace of mind.

Gear Up For Growth

In addition to opening up new growth opportunities in all areas of transport, logistics and fleet management, deploying IoT as part of a digital transformation initiative can boost productivity, efficiency and competitive advantage. It offers partners and customers a better experience while creating more innovative ways to do business.

If adopting new technologies sounds risky at this point, it is important to remember that ultimately, the adoption of any new technology brings a degree of uncertainty and risk. Introducing IoT is no exception. But any concerns should be balanced against the potential benefits, not to mention the greater risk of holding back, while agile disruptors set the pace as digital transformation continues to gather speed in transport, logistics and fleet management.

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