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Five Ways IT Leaders Can Help CEOs in the Digital Era

trucking companies have adopted technologies to manage shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

Five Ways IT Leaders Can Help CEOs in the Digital Era

As a business leader, it is likely one of your top priorities is digitizing. While the trucking industry has begun to embrace certain technology trends, especially those that impact external audiences like customers, there are still many businesses doing internal business processes manually or in spreadsheets.

A key piece of your digitization initiative should move the business towards data visualization by using business intelligence solutions for both internal and customer-facing processes. This digital transformation will give you actionable insight into process improvement and real-time, proactive decision-making opportunities in everything from fleet management to company marketing.

We’ve discussed previously how the CIO and CEO are working closely together in the digital transformation. The CIO is the primary adviser to the CEO and has stepped out of the depths of technical support to take on their biggest leadership role yet. The CIO and CEO are making strides to understand one another more than ever; so much so that a Wall Street Journal CIO Network meeting revealed 70 percent of CIOs aspire to be CEOs.

With CIOs taking an active role in vision and overall strategy, here are ways CIOs can help CEOs with digitization initiatives.

Feed the CEO Expertise. CEOs are not going to be the experts on technology or its implementation. They will rely heavily on CIOs to fill in the gaps for them, and in return, the CIO will be provided with the resources necessary to lead the transformation.

Don’t Lean on the CEO for Vision. Successful CEOs are obsessed with innovation. They have vision for the company and the supporting executive roles carry that vision out. This doesn’t change in the digital transformation. However, CIOs can “beat” CEOs to the innovation punch. Be proactive in providing the CEO with new ideas and help them realize areas to innovate they hadn’t even imagined yet. Many big companies are slow to change so the trends that are happening in other industries may not be accessible to them for another few years. One that the trucking industry could start to embrace now is moving their legacy systems to the cloud, if possible. Also, investing in telematics and creating mobile apps so that the field team can record and send feedback to headquarters, whether manually or through automation, is another great trend to look into. This allows the operations team to collect and analyze data in real-time. No one knows better how technology can impact the enterprise. When given the go, iterate new ideas faster and turn them into real-world gains in speed, efficiency and cost reduction. You are best-equipped to delineate the optimal solutions to manage digital disruption and alter how the business operates on a daily basis.

Make the CEO Spend Time on Cybersecurity. Technological change is great, but often it seems to be racing ahead of the ability to keep it safe and secure. Often times, this protective task falls on the CIO, when really it is a shared challenge. The more involved you request and push for the CEO to be, the better prepared your enterprise will be for attacks. Help the CEO understand that in digitizing your data there is risk. Many are calling data the “new currency of the digital world.” This means people want access to it, and unfortunately, traditional hackers aren’t the only ones to look out for. There’s also the threats posed by employees who compromise data sources through unauthorized third-party apps or poor security on their personal devices. At the end of the day, all managers, from the CIO to the CEO, must work on security together. Otherwise it gets moved down the corporate priority list, potentially putting the organization at risk.

Push for Use of Technology to Improve Customer Service. “The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.” Those words, spoken by Dell CIO Jerry Gregoire, have never been truer than they are now. Technology has provided such beneficial advancements in customer service that price is becoming markedly less of a factor when choosing vendors. Consider 24/7 customer service provided partially through an Intelligent Assistant, the real-time updates on status given to the customer, or the faster turnaround in problem solving. Real impact comes from the quality of customer experience. Customers want to know they’ll have resources if their item doesn’t arrive as expected, or if they need help placing an order.

Give the CEO a History Lesson. Digital transformation encompasses the strategic overhaul of an organization’s structure and operational models. Companies who are unable to adapt to the increasingly data-centric business world are falling behind. To demonstrate this, one need only to look at the S&P 500. In 1958, companies remained on the index for an average of 61 years. Today, companies are replaced by more agile competitors approximately every two weeks. The benefits of digital transformation stand in stark opposition to the consequences of failing to make the change. With such a gap between the outcomes of companies who do and do not embrace the digital transformation, there can be little debate over its value. Reminding the CEO of this regularly will help them prioritize technology in their vision for the company.

Humberto Farias is a seasoned technology professional with over 18 years of experience guiding companies around the world through the custom software development process. Humberto’s work across more than 10 industries and 3 continents, including work with Fortune 500 companies such as Walt Disney World and GE, has given him a keen ability for approaching every opportunity with fresh ideas and out-of-the-box thinking to find the most impactful technological solution. As a dynamic business leader and a Certified Scrum Master, Humberto leads a team of highly skilled software engineers and developers at Concepta, providing tailored web and mobile applications to small-to-medium enterprises.

Company executives approch to digital technologies impact shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

How the C-Suite Should Divy Up Ownership of Digital Initiatives

Digital transformation is inevitable, according to an MIT survey of C-suite executives. Nearly 60 percent of the executives believe technology will greatly disrupt their industries in the coming years. All evidence in the trucking world points to this being true.

Despite evidence of increased profits and market share, some leaders are uncertain about managing digital transformations. It involves an extensive and time-consuming investment. Digitization involves retraining staff, reshaping corporate culture, and redirecting workflows into more efficient patterns as much as it does investing in new technology.

The biggest concern is also defining KPIs and metrics for success once the digital transformation is complete. Without goal tracking in place, companies run into inconsistency that makes it hard to assess the true value of digital transformation. A company could be gathering lots of valuable data, only to miss out on how to extract the data in a meaningful way tied to specific definitions of success.

Creating assessment guidelines must be done on an individual basis. Every organization doesn’t adopt technology at the same pace, in the same order. One might focus on improving internal procedures in the warehouse first while others look to upgrade their analytics software for sales and prospecting new customers. This means revenue is not the only success metric a company can and should look at for digital initiatives.

Uneven adoption within a company also hinders the efficiency of technological initiatives. It takes flexibility to enact change across an organization; flexibility many companies don’t have. Internal politics and organizational cultures that do not accept failure, when coupled with a lack of clarity on goals, are the biggest threats to success.

Those that are successful not only use tailored solutions for specific problems rather than jumping from trend to trend, but also have a solid C-suite family, or what is referred to as the CxOs. CxOs must work together to create a digitally optimized workplace that serves the needs of the company. It’s no longer possible – or even sensible – to expect the CEO to be an expert in all areas of their company.

Defining Success Through Clarity

Let’s first focus on some common areas the CxOs can look to for defining success: conversions, operational costs, customer satisfaction, website behavior, and corporate climate.

Judging revenue may be misleading, but web-originated conversions are a reasonable metric that please shareholders and board members too. Trucking and transportation have services and products to sell – having an inbound marketing strategy to not only yield a strong online presence, but to generate leads and convert visitors to customers is key. Using conversions as a success metric would apply to a digital initiative in your marketing efforts or sales pipeline, tracking campaigns such as e-newsletter blasts, ad buys, social media efforts and more. There are several simple extensions that sort incoming traffic according to the campaign that generated it. These extensions can follow visitors to the point of purchase, providing a clear visual of performance.
A core aspect of digital innovation is automation, making it easy to track lowered operational costs. Repetitive and tedious steps can be managed or eliminated by machine learning programs and other software. Automation is a great way to reduce overtime, as employees will be able to readjust to spending time on valuable tasks and not routine, housekeeping items machines can do. Readjust is the key here too – most businesses are looking to make employees more productive with technology, not eliminate the human element. CEOs may consider reduced payroll, lower utilities (and other costs associated with overworked staff) and benefits gained from “bonus projects” as part of their success metrics.

We’re only two years away from realizing some expert opinions that by 2020 customer experience will be the most important brand differentiator. Your customers will naturally gravitate to partners that are easy to connect with and problem-solve with. One digital initiative may be to empower your customer service team through online tools for customer engagement. An industry trend of lowering freight rates for shippers thanks to oversupply and competitiveness has also lowered the customer service shippers would like to receive from container companies, for example. Using data to determine these customer service pain points will lead to change in operations. You can use a CRM and a TMS to keep information aligned on the digital front. Having a custom-built enterprise solution will tailor data and communication for each company’s needs.

A final metric to consider is the hardest to measure but a powerful one we hit on in our piece about removing barriers to opposition. Companies who manage smooth digital transformations have happier employees, more creative low-level managers, and key leaders with a stronger commitment to the ultimate success of the company. One way to measure this change is to check retention rates among mid to senior level executives.

The Revived C-Suite Team

One of the biggest changes involving technology is the growth of the CxO branch once your company has clarity in its purpose for the digital transformation.

While everyone benefits from increased efficiency and productivity, some members of the CxO family bear a greater share of the responsibility for guiding their organization through the digital transformation. While the CIO/CTO still leads the charge, a new level of responsibility is shared by the CEO and COO.

The Business-Minded CTO/CIO. Finding CIOs and CTOs leading the charge on digital change is no surprise. The pace of technology and innovation is inspiring, and it’s important a CIO is inspired by what technology could be “cool” to have. But now, CIOs need to have more than insight into what is cool; they need to understand the what benefit it serves to address inefficient and broken processes or unmet needs.

In the past, CIOs tended to have a very narrow focus. They dealt with technical projects: keeping the IT systems running, managing ERP software, and serving as the “voice of technology” in the boardroom. They were generally found in their offices reconciling reports and managing their subordinate IT departments. Now every company is a technology company. Technology has become an integral part of how a company operates at all levels. Technology is both causing problems for organizations and solving them, and the C-suite turns to CIOs to know how to deal with this.

In response, CIOs are shifting from “functional” to “transformational” mindsets to reflect their greater involvement in the organization’s overall digital strategy. CIOs are spending more time outside their office learning what other departments need, what types of technology work for them and which programs aren’t meeting their needs.

Enterprise Technology’s Newest Advocate, the CEO. Directives from CEOs are taken more seriously – that hasn’t changed with the digital transformation. The inevitable challenges discussed before are the reasons the digital transformation benefits from a high-level advocate. Additionally, the digital transformation is fairly new, so it only makes sense that the CEO would be involved more in relatively uncharted territory.

However, CEOs can’t spend the same amount of time a CIO has to really investigate the technology needs of their company. It means trusting and listening to the CIO to suggest the right technology solutions based on business strategy. Once the technology investment has been landed on, CEOs should focus on finding ways to deploy innovative ideas quickly in a fiscally conscious manner and ultimately, makes the final decision on what specific challenge the new technology will address. This means setting priorities for improvement based on what has the potential to cause the most disruption. The CEO is the leader for how to solve roadblocks and providing guidance on when to pivot. This creates a unified digital strategy so that the other roles and leaders can charge forward, empowered to make changes within a guided framework.

COO, the Master Planner. The COO is the logistics manager of the digital transformation; they take the technologies decided on by the CTO and oversee implementation according to the CEO’s business plan. That includes everything from helping source vendors to planning space requirements for new offices and equipment. Additionally, COOs must hire employees as needed to support the developing strategy or retrain existing employees to fulfill those roles.

It’s been mentioned that getting employees on board with new technology is key. The COO must create a path to universal adoption that minimizes the disturbance while also assuring a smooth integration of new technology and processes.

Reducing the stress of transition doesn’t have to mean lowering expectations for digital transformation. Some COOs choose to divide the process into discrete phases, where any slack from one department while they get up to speed can be picked up by another. Others periodically enact small changes company-wide until everyone arrives at the same level of integration at the same time. Thoughtful integration plans reduce the stress on employees, which also helps with retention.

Ultimately, the hardships of transition are worth the benefits of the digital transformation. To simplify the new relationships between and roles of the executive team, focus on consistent communication and a unified front.

Humberto Farias is a seasoned technology professional with over 18 years of experience guiding companies around the world through the custom software development process. Humberto’s work across more than 10 industries and 3 continents, including work with Fortune 500 companies such as Walt Disney World and GE, has given him a keen ability for approaching every opportunity with fresh ideas and out-of-the-box thinking to find the most impactful technological solution. As a dynamic business leader and a Certified Scrum Master, Humberto leads a team of highly skilled software engineers and developers at Concepta, providing tailored web and mobile applications to small-to-medium enterprises.

Software can help trucking companies carrying shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

How to Break Through the Barriers of Technological Opposition

One important but sometimes overlooked component of assessing your digital strategy is simply looking into whether your employees are loving your software or secretly hating it. Employees work with the technology every day, knowing which systems are difficult to navigate and are lacking efficiency.

According to a Forrester study, a whopping 75 percent of respondents reported having a tough time accessing info via enterprise systems and applications. While you can always conduct a survey or hold a meeting to gauge your staff’s level of satisfaction with company software, there are a few obvious hints that can reveal whether you have several tech-frustrated employees who are unhappy with your technology.

If you take the learning curve out of the equation, your staff shouldn’t be making repeat mistakes. If otherwise competent employees are continuously getting confused and having issues, it may be time for new technology. For example, if the company has a simple need—such as the need to monitor your rate of on-time delivery—you should have a simple tracking system in place, not only for delivery truck drivers to complete, but for you to be able to quickly visualize the data around that aspect of performance.  If you find that simple tasks are complicated to execute or the system is not intuitive, your software isn’t meeting your needs.

In a business with multiple departments accessing and utilizing a system, it is especially important that it doesn’t cause misunderstandings, differing expectations or relationship-hindering challenges. Keep an eye out for workflow issues with the technology in a department or between departments.

Lastly, if you see a decrease in productivity, or if projects seem to take longer than they should, it could be a software issue. Not only does poor software slow employees down, but a lack of technology adoption in the first place for a project could be a problem. For example, if a system requires a multi-step authentication process, when speed and efficiency is being tracked, this could cause frustration. Also, processes you are still doing manually, say certain aspects of customer service, may have technology resources to allow employees to spend time on more productive tasks.

Now that you’ve assessed your digital strategy, understand where and how you’ll upgrade, you’re ready to roll it out. You feel a renewed sense of control over operations and look forward to insight into your business that you’ve never had before on warehousing, delivery, inventory, customer service and more.

In reality though, you face what may be your biggest, and most important, hurdle in adopting new technology in business — getting your staff trained on the new system. And it’s not unusual for employees to resist change, even if they can see how the technology will improve the business in the long-run and it is addressing one of the complaints they made formerly about a system.

There are some best practices executives can implement in helping employees learn new methods, in hopes of limiting frustrations caused by invariable delays and errors as the new system comes online.

Set up extensive technical assistance. Research shows that software development training assistance is critical. New technology naturally has bumps as it gets ramped up. There may also be a steep learning curve. Studies have shown that the more technical support provided in an onboarding period, the more successful the rollout will be. It can also help taper frustrations if access to technical support is quick and easy.

Focus on the most important features. As much as 60 percent of software features are never used. This happens so often there’s a name for it: shelfware. To a certain extent, shelfware is inevitable. Software makers constantly add new features in a quest to meet customer demand and stay relevant. But after a time, the software has many features most users never touch. When you train employees on new software, focus the majority of your training on the 20 to 40 percent of features users access on a regular basis.

In trucking and logistics, key features might include reporting updates so finance can generate reports that are timely and insightful, allowing them to determine the risks and costs associated with driver performance, or inventory tracking.

A popular yet irrelevant feature might be activity feeds—a lot of software nowadays wants to include a social feature to their systems. For instance, when a delivery is made, the “news feed” might post an automatic update. It’s good to know that “John Smith” has delivered XYZ shipment, but not everyone cares and it becomes more noise than usefulness.

Leverage influential users. Before rollout, create an incentivized team of early adopters. These employees were likely already a proponent of the investment and are excited by learning a new system. You can leverage their leadership and spirit by designating them as the go-to people, while also giving the employee a morale boost with the recognized role.

Post-training follow up. Communication is key when the training is done and the software is live. You’ll eventually experience bottlenecks and setbacks when introducing new technology into the workplace. The only way to overcome these challenges is to constantly communicate with your staff, specifically staff at all levels. Schedule regular meetings, perhaps once a week or every two weeks, to review progress. In between, engage workers in casual conversation. The incentivized team leads can play an integral role in gathering this information as well.

Identifying your employees’ threshold for existing and new technology takes time and patience.  Technical assistance, influential users, online training, follow-ups, open communication and a focus on high-impact features are all important contributors to successfully training employees on new software. Commit to using these tactics to give your team every chance of making the project a success.

Humberto Farias is a seasoned technology professional with over 18 years of experience guiding companies around the world through the custom software development process. Humberto’s work across more than 10 industries and 3 continents, including work with Fortune 500 companies such as Walt Disney World and GE, has given him a keen ability for approaching every opportunity with fresh ideas and out-of-the-box thinking to find the most impactful technological solution. As a dynamic business leader and a Certified Scrum Master, Humberto leads a team of highly skilled software engineers and developers at Concepta, providing tailored web and mobile applications to small-to-medium enterprises.

A data strategy is important for companies with shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

Is Your Data Useable?

Have you heard the saying, “Data is the new oil?” It’s a picturesque metaphor that in many ways fits.

Big Data and enterprise analytics are proving ROI and a direct impact on business. When British mathematician Clive Humby first used the phrase in 2006, however, he had something different than monetary value in mind. His full quote holds more thought: “Data is the new oil. It’s valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used.”

It’s true—gathering data for data’s sake does nothing to drive profit, yet some businesses have yet to figure out how to properly pull value from the vast amounts of data they have started gathering. This pitfall also wastes resources that could more effectively used elsewhere. Even passively collecting data incurs storage fees.

Collecting data without a focused data strategy is the greatest pitfall of organizations right now. The good news is that increasing data utilization is one of the single most profitable steps a company can take to turn this pitfall around. Research shows those who use data to inform their business strategy consistently see a five-percent boost in productivity and six percent more revenue than those who do not.

A second common pitfall is the people behind the implementation. While 85 percent of corporations have begun trying to incorporate data into their business strategy, barely one in three can say their big data venture has been a success. People, not technology, are holding these projects back. Organizational resistance, a lack of understanding among the senior leadership, and misalignment with organizational goals can lead to bottlenecks and slowed down implementation. This means companies know the value of data, but they lose steam part way through implementation because leadership can’t agree on the direction of the data strategy.

To avoid project collapse, executives need to clearly define the insights they are looking to gather and identify the data that best suites that. Rather than collecting data and looking for random but useful nuggets to drop out like gold, be deliberate in what KPI you are applying your data strategy to.

A good place to start can be to outline pain points and desired areas of growth that your organization would like to address, then apply the analyzed data to those specific business problems. Data refinement is done using artificial intelligence and machine learning software. This type of application allows computers to behave in “intelligent” ways. Given a large subset of data, computers and programs could make its own decisions about relevance and priority of information without predetermined guidelines for every possible situation. Machine learning is a subdiscipline of artificial intelligence that aims to give machines the ability to learn from previous experiences and use that knowledge in future interactions. Essentially, a computer is given a pile of data and a machine learning algorithm is asked to process it. It’s possible to dig much deeper into the differences and implementation of both, so for more details, additional resources can be found here.

For the common pitfall of people, assigning clear roles in the digital transformation is helpful. It’s not reasonable for a CEO to be expected to understand every aspect of the business. At the same time, the CTO has to do more than implementation. In the digital transformation process, there is heavy reliance on the CEO, COO, and CTO for success. The CEO is integral in championing the effort and ensuring the transformation stays on course, keeping a closer eye on implementation than in the past. Meanwhile, instead of focusing on the nitty-gritty of implementation, the CTO should be forward facing and proactive in explaining the technology to all areas of the business impacted, showcasing an understanding of the technology’s impact on the bottom line and the department. Finally, the COO takes the technologies suggested by the CIOs and CTOs and fits them into the overall business strategy devised by the CEO. To put it another way, they are the “how” to the CEO’s “why” and the CIO’s “what”.

Avoiding these pitfalls means data-smart companies can maximize their data usage and gain an edge over competitors. The recommendations and insights into overcoming them also sets up your data strategy to be fairly pain-free and streamlined. This level of organization, focus and care gets, and importantly, keeps, not only the management team but all impacted by the changes, on board and moving forward.

Humberto Farias, CEO of Concepta, is a seasoned technology professional with over 18 years of experience guiding companies around the world through the custom software development process. He leads a team of highly skilled software engineers and developers providing tailored web and mobile applications to enterprises.

Artificial intelligence can help manage shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

How to Assess Your Data Strategy for Improved and Advanced Analytics

As IBM CFO Martin Schroeter said recently, “The debate about whether artificial intelligence is real is over, and we’re getting to work to solve real business problems.”

As a CTO or executive, you know that if you’re not adopting new data-driven solutions, you’re losing your competitive edge. Yet, it’s challenging to know exactly where some of the new data tools, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, can be applied. Then, how should you roll it out?

Gartner emphasized recently that businesses need to make steps to modernize or they’ll be left in the dust. Now that leadership is paying attention to data science and AI, with 64 percent of senior decision makers believing their organization’s future growth is dependent on AI technologies, it’s important to clear directives so business decisions can be guided by data. Getting started with artificial intelligence and data science means keeping the focus on where you can maximize data efforts for achieving market dominance. The following questions will help any business access the current state of its data strategy for implementing advanced solutions.

Where is my data coming from? To get the most out of the artificial intelligence movement, it’s critical to apply it to a specific problem. Start by identifying every method you currently have of collecting information. Essentially, anything that measures how your company is performing and how your stakeholders are interacting with you.

How is my data stored? It’s important to understand your needs and your options for data storage. Cloud storage is the future of data warehousing, but not everyone has made the switch yet. Some companies have in-house systems they’ve invested heavily in, and uploading everything to the cloud doesn’t make sense for them. There are also hybrid warehouses where some incoming data flows get tagged for in-house storage while others are directed to the cloud.

Who has access? On the surface level, this one is simple: Who can see your data? What are the security procedures used to keep unauthorized users from using/altering data? There’s an executive trend towards democratizing data so that it’s accessible by every department. That provides an incredible amount of flexibility and encourages innovation on an individual level, but there are some security concerns involved. Decide what level of access each category of employee will have based on what you deem an acceptable balance of risk.

How is your data being used? Clearly define what you want your data to do and the goals you are working towards in gathering it. While these will, by nature, be loosely defined, try to narrow it down more than “growth”. A better exploitation goal would be “increase growth in X market” or “improve the customer acquisition funnel”. Be specific about the information you need to track to attain this goal, but don’t feel the need to ration it. Data science needs data to work. The more relevant information you have, the more ROI you can realize from data science programs.

Gathering Timely Business Insights From Data

Timely business insights through predictive analytics is one of the most useful AI tools available. Information about equipment function, fleets, inventory and more can be analyzed in real time and presented in a format accessible to the non-technically inclined. Accessibility is a huge step forward for analytics, considering that the old model involved waiting for a specialist to translate data into usable graphs. Two years ago, only 51 percent of decision makers felt they could interpret their enterprise analytics without assistance. Now, that number is 66 percent and rising. Having analytics that executives can forecast boosts flexibility and allows departments to make changes before it can affect business operations.

In following this roadmap, you’ll not only identify the true extent of any problems within your current strategy if one exists, but quickly see how dialing in on a more specific direction for your data strategy will remove conflicting data streams and smooth out wrinkles. When it comes to advanced analytics, incorporating data science and AI into existing workflows is most efficiently done on a rolling phased basis. That is, identify the first few steps to improving your data usage, then periodically reassess and add new steps as the old ones are completed.

Humberto Farias, CEO of Concepta, is a seasoned technology professional with over 18 years of experience guiding companies around the world through the custom software development process. He leads a team of highly skilled software engineers and developers providing tailored web and mobile applications to enterprises.

Business intelligence software can help manage shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

How BI Tools Use Company Data to Deliver Goods on Time

It’s likely you’ve heard about the digital transformation, and there is a lot of information about the latest and greatest when it comes to using data. What technologies are a fit for the transportation industry you might ask?

Business intelligence solutions are a good place to start. When you think of business intelligence (BI), arguably the most popular buzzword in business analytics, you might think of simple data collection, such as used in warehouse management.

But true business intelligence involves transforming data into useful guidance through the power of visuals. What also impacts businesses now is that BI is no longer only for large trucking corporations who can afford it; in fact, custom options tailored to all sizes of business in the industry are within budget. Essentially, BI tools offer answers to big questions that matter through visual reports, KPIs, and trend-reviewing. BI software allows companies to gather their data points involving many aspects of transportation – drivers, trucks, shipments – into one program, rather than manual input into Excel. BI software typically stores data in warehouses, allowing for easier collaboration and collective decision-making within a company.

Again, there are many exciting trends in BI that show promise in small-scale trials but haven’t had enough real-world usage to prove their worth to enterprise. Adopting too early puts companies at risk of losing their investment. On the other hand, waiting too long leaves them in their competition’s shadow. Luckily, there are a few that fall right in the middle when it comes to improving a very important core component of the transportation business: delivering on time.

Knowing which business analytics trends have reached the stage where a company can gain a competitive edge by using them, while sidestepping most of the usual risks inherent to early adoption is key. When adopted properly, businesses improve their data agility.

Embedded Analytics
Basic reporting has been a feature of software for decades. Every accounting and management program has an option to download its data as a spreadsheet. Embedded analytics takes things farther, providing not only access to data but an approachable platform to interpret it. It’s likely you’ve been exposed to embedded analytics and didn’t even realize it with programs you’re currently using to manage fleets, finances and HR and more.

These tools should provide visual breakdowns of these business efforts to give you a picture of growth, initiative success and other metrics they provide. The term refers to advanced reporting software that is integrated into the software you’re using so completely that a user experiences it as a single tool. Embedded analytics is now the standard rather than a bonus feature. Users expect to be able to view and analyze their data on a dashboard without exporting it to an outside program. The technology has grown past its trial phase into a comfortable state of invisibility. Users don’t notice its presence anymore so much as its absence, which makes it a very safe bet for investment. If any software you are using in various parts of the business doesn’t include embedded analytics, it’s likely time for an upgrade.

Predictive Analytics
Predictive analytics as a field has existed since the late 1600s, when Lloyd’s of London used it to estimate insurance rates on seagoing vessels. Until the rise of computers though, it wasn’t a practical means of steering business. There were too many variables for a human to consider in time to form more than broad predictions.

With the advances of cloud storage and increased processing power, the field has seen a resurgence as the most efficient way to maximize data usage and feed a data-driven decision-making process. There’s still a long way to go before the full potential of predictive analytics is realized, but its current capabilities are more than mature enough to justify its adoption.

Predictive analytics detect deviations in patterns, generate insights based on evolving activity, and reliably predict future outcomes from gathered data. In the trucking industry, predictive analytics can optimize routes for drivers, track vehicle maintenance schedules, optimize shifts, and analyze distance traveled per driver.

Real-Time Streaming Analytics
Streaming analytics give enterprises a living visualization of their operations through a central dashboard. In the traditional analytics model, information is stored in a data warehouse before analysis is applied. This causes a gap between collection and results where time-sensitive opportunities are lost. There’s no rule that says data has to be stored first. It can be analyzed mid-stream to sift out data that will only stay relevant for a short time. For example, corporate headquarters can track if a driver is en route and where they currently are, if goods and packages are delivered, and predictive analytics can help determine if weather is causing delays in shipments.

These analytics trends have demonstrated their utility and staying power, especially when applied to streamlining the logistics of shipping and delivery. Each is at a point where a company can expect a respectable return on investment. The world of data and analytics is moving quickly, and becoming much easier to digest. A proactive and ongoing investment in analytics means the most accurate and comprehensive look at how you’re delivering for customers.

Humberto Farias, CEO of Concepta, is a seasoned technology professional with over 18 years of experience guiding companies around the world through the custom software development process. He leads a team of highly skilled software engineers and developers providing tailored web and mobile applications to enterprises.