New Articles

Third-Party Logistics Providers Need Data Analytics to Save Money


Third-Party Logistics Providers Need Data Analytics to Save Money

Logistics data analytics can provide an invaluable competitive edge to third-party logistics (3PL) providers. 3PLs face a rapidly changing market. Supply chain disruptions and the rapid growth of e-commerce mean they must be ready to adapt if they want to continue providing high-quality services for their customers.

Data analytics allow 3PLs to uncover new insights to improve decision-making and provide cost savings.

How 3PLs Can Leverage Logistics Data Analytics

Today, businesses of all kinds have access to more information than ever — and a range of analytics tools that can extract deep insights from large data sets.

Almost any business can benefit from data analytics, but 3PLs are in a particularly good position to use these tools. These companies can secure a few significant advantages by using them.

1. Improved Risk Management

Modern 3PLs face various risks. The right data makes it easier to take a proactive risk management approach, making better decisions regarding carrier selection, freight tenders and the business partnerships the 3PL will establish.

Better data can also make it easier to identify potential risks and their potential impact. Identifying these threats can make a proactive risk management approach easier to implement and more effective — potentially providing significant cost savings.

Some 3PL tools even utilize advanced technology like AI to improve supply chain resilience and risk management. 3PLs can use them to uncover insights that less advanced analytics technology wouldn’t be able to find — securing a valuable competitive advantage.

2. Lower Transportation Costs

Data collected from the supply chain can make it easier to visualize and manage daily operations. 3PLs can use data dashboards and similar tools to centralize the information they gather and provide it in an easy-to-understand format for managers, supply chain specialists and key decision-makers.

3PL team members can then more easily track key KPIs — like cost per unit, order accuracy and processing time. Analytics tools will also help the 3PL identify relationships between business practices and these KPIs, making it easier to spot operational bottlenecks and inefficiencies.

3. Stronger 3PL-Client Relationships

Data from the supply chain and logistics operations can make it much easier to analyze and respond to changes in the global supply chain market. This information can also make 3PLs a better business partner to their clients. The right shipping and logistics analysis allows a 3PL’s associates to secure a valuable competitive advantage.

One recent study of the 3PL market found that interest in robotics and data analytics is rising fast among shippers. More 3PLs are adopting data analytics technology, and these tools may become critical for strong client relationships. Clients may look elsewhere if a business can’t offer a tool its competition can.

Data Analytics Can Provide Major Cost Savings

Many of the advantages data analytics provide can help 3PLs save time and money. Managing risk reduces the chance that an unforeseen hazard will cost a 3PL significant resources.

Lower transportation costs can reduce one of the biggest expenses for a 3PL — and allow the company to pass cost savings on transportation to its clients.

Better relationships with clients can provide steadier business for a 3PL, potentially decreasing costs associated with marketing and client relationship management.

3PL Data Analytics in Practice

Various 3PL data analytics approaches exist. These data analytics strategies offer benefits throughout an organization by providing workers with better information that can streamline operations or be passed onto business partners and clients.

Supply Chain Visibility and Transparency

Low supply chain visibility can make accurate predictions about availability, shipping times and processing speed much more difficult.

New data-collection and organization tools allow 3PLs to develop a much deeper understanding of how products are moving through the supply chain and how effectively current shipping partners are managing their operations.

Supply chain management tools may also lay the foundation for IoT-powered tracking and transparency. The right Internet of Things (IoT) tracking devices will let 3PLs monitor goods continuously as they move through the supply chain. These devices can provide information about a shipment’s current location, speed and shipping conditions.

This information can make it easier to track goods and predict shipping speed or delivery timing.

IoT supply chain monitoring may be especially valuable for 3PLs that offer cold chain management services. The same IoT device can track a shipment’s current location and temperature. It can immediately alert drivers and managers of an excursion, allowing them to respond quickly to prevent product spoilage.

Data-Driven Resource Planning

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is an essential investment for any 3PL. It makes it much easier for managers to effectively understand and react to the business’s current resource planning needs.

Resource planning tools — along with software like warehouse management systems (WMS) and contact management systems (CMS) — can make managing essential business resources much easier.

These systems can also automate many administrative processes, like the generation of customer reports, helping to streamline client communication and business management.

KPI Dashboards and Data Visualizations

New data analytics tools allow 3PLs to centralize and organize information by using data dashboards. For example, KPI dashboards can provide managers and executives with a snapshot of current operations, performance and overall business health.

Strategic inventory dashboards can offer a real-time view of how inventory moves through the supply chain, making it easier to identify possible process issues.

Most logistics data analytics tools marketed to 3PLs offer a great deal of customization, so these tools can be adapted to fit the organization’s needs. They can provide information on different KPIs, prioritizing certain types of data and generating customized reports for clients, business partners or regulators as needed.

Using Logistics Data Analytics to Save Money in a Changing Market

The right analytics tools allow 3PLs to streamline their operations, save money and build stronger client relationships. Data dashboards, supply chain visibility tools, and systems like ERPs or WMSs can make it much easier to manage essential processes, automate work and make more informed decisions.

Early adopters of data analytics will secure a competitive advantage over other 3PLs, making them a more valuable investment for their clients.

logistics provider

What Makes a Good Logistics Provider?

A business is only as good as its ability to deliver. This is especially true for small reseller traders who are often responsible for delivering goods from the global supplier right into the hands of their end customers. For these players, delays and missing or damaged goods can mean a devastating loss of revenue and reputation. Smaller traders who bid on contracts to supply goods to large end customers are an often overlooked, yet integral, part of the supply chain to deliver critical goods all over the world. We work with many of them on our trading platform and get an intimate view of their challenges as a result. When goods don’t arrive as expected, it is not only the traders and their customers that are hurt, but also the communities and institutions they serve. For a business working hard to compete, especially in today’s particularly challenging pandemic-affected trading environment, the choice of a quality logistics provider can be the difference between success and failure.

Although delivery is a critically important piece of the trade business for enterprises of every size, surprisingly few good resources exist to assist in finding the right logistics provider for a given project. We’ve known many businesses to resort to a quick Google search or a referral from a friend. This is risky at best, given what’s at stake. Still, without knowing what to look for and what questions to ask, it can be difficult to know where to begin in the search for a high-quality partner, and the desire to just find someone quickly can take over. As a result, traders often deal with poor service and a lack of attention from their logistics provider when a better partner could have provided a much better experience and result.

As a platform that vets trade service providers, constructs deals and manages trade execution for a large volume of trades into challenging markets, we’ve learned by necessity to identify the hallmarks of high-quality logistics providers and to note the red flags that signal ineffective ones. These are the qualities we look for in every logistics partner we recommend:

Experienced – A wave of brand-new companies have sprung up looking to fill the demand created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Always work with logistics companies that have been in operation for a number of years. Not only does this show that the company has a history of success, but experienced logistics providers will have a better understanding of local regulations and possible sticking points.

Good Customer Service Team – A professional, knowledgeable and robust customer service team will not only facilitate clear communication but is a sign of a quality company. Clear and effective communication from logistics providers also saves traders time and energy building and executing trades.

Responsive – It is important that logistics providers respond to messages quickly and are proactive in providing updates. When goods arrive at the right place on time, this should be communicated quickly. When communication is slow and sporadic, it is often the case that the company is unorganized, or goods are not where they are supposed to be.

Diligent – The logistics of international trade are complicated. Attention to detail is necessary as goods change hands and pass-through ports. A diligent company will have correct documentation for the goods and communicate effectively with the necessary parties, avoiding tax penalties, delays, and confusion that cut into revenue.

Registered with Appropriate Government Agencies – Logistics providers must be registered with the necessary agencies to do business in the jurisdictions in which they operate, such as the local revenue authorities. It is important to confirm that the company is registered to conduct business in the countries where the goods are to be picked up and delivered, and anywhere they may land in between.

Global Presence – A global presence is both useful and a sign of a reputable logistics provider. However, many logistics providers do not operate globally. Minimally, the company you choose should operate in the countries relevant to the transaction. Established companies with a large presence are often more experienced, and may be able to offer additional services, or deal with complications more quickly and easily than smaller operations.

Doing the research to find companies who check all these boxes pays dividends in many ways. A good logistics provider will save their customer time and energy by transporting and clearing goods efficiently and ensuring they arrive at the delivery location on time. Good logistics providers fix mistakes and resolve complications quickly, without requiring significant involvement from their customer, the trader. Put simply, the best logistics providers are capable, easy to work with, and reliable. They deliver every time because they communicate well and have accumulated a wealth of industry knowledge after years of experience. The time and effort invested to find a partner you can rely on for this level of service is small compared to the benefits of peace of mind, help when you need it or when things don’t quite go according to plan and the time saved in executing the transaction, not to mention the value of being known to your customers as a business that can be relied upon to deliver, every time.


Chris Hale is the Founder and CEO of Kountable, Inc., a San Francisco-based technology company actively solving the world’s distribution problem by building a trust network for global trade that integrates, digitizes, and optimizes collaboration between qualified big and small players. Its cloud-based global trade platform delivers transparency, governance, and efficiency in trade by connecting the biggest global sellers with the most qualified buyers in challenging economies.


The Road to Leadership Success is Paved With Knowledge

Different Kinds of Organizational Knowledge and Where they are Found

Executives must have an understanding of the concept of knowledge itself. Knowledge is identified as a multi-faceted concept and is distinct from information and data. Knowledge is quite elusive and is changing on a day-to-day basis with discontinued products and the ever-changing vast array of technology. Therefore, to counter the above definition of knowledge, Ruggles defines knowledge as a blend of information, experiences, and codes. The key take-away for executives is that knowledge is a resource that enables organizations to solve problems and create value through improved performance and it is this point that will narrow the gaps of success and failure leading to more successful decision-making.

Executives still wonder where is knowledge and how can it be utilized when it comes to decision-making. Scholars found that within organizations, knowledge resides in various areas such as management, employees, culture, structure, systems, processes, and relationships.

Organizational knowledge cannot merely be described as the sum of individual knowledge, but as a systematic combination of knowledge based on social interactions shared among organizational members. Executives, being more conceptual, agree with Tsoukas who determines organizational knowledge as a collective mind, and Jones and Leonard who explain organizational knowledge as the knowledge that exists in the organization as a whole. Most importantly, organizational knowledge is owned and disseminated by the organization. To analyze knowledge in organizations, there are two important taxonomies of organizational knowledge that need to be discussed.

Tacit and Explicit Knowledge

Why would executives care whether knowledge is tacit or explicit? The simple answer is that tacit knowledge is not shared and sometimes bottled up in individuals causing a bottleneck in the organization. If knowledge can be categorized as tacit and explicit knowledge then how can executives manage knowledge to enhance productivity?

Since tacit knowledge is the knowledge that exists in the minds of organizational members which is gained by their individual experiences, and it is difficult to formalize and transfer unless directed to do so, executives need to pinpoint and encourage this type of knowledge to be drawn out of followers. More controllable, explicit knowledge is the knowledge that is highly formalized and codified, and can be easily recorded and communicated through formal and systematic language, and manifested in rules and procedures providing the necessary tools and processes for executives to manage. It can also be captured in expert systems and tapped by many people throughout the organization via the intranet. Executives know that explicit knowledge is more formal and has the potential to be more easily shared. When it is expressed in words and specifications, it is much more useful compared to tacit knowledge.

Private and Public Knowledge

Since executives are constantly dealing with the public—-especially if they are a publicly-traded company, the private and public knowledge is something they pay a great deal of attention to. Of course, this is not new but worth mentioning. For example, a scholar by the name of Matusik, argues that knowledge in organizations can be categorized as either private or public knowledge and can be advantageous to executive decision-making. Firm-specific knowledge must be guarded and not shared with the competition. Any leak of such information may expose the organization and increase the operational risk. Contrary to private knowledge, public knowledge differs in that it is not unique for any organization. Public knowledge may be an asset and provide potential benefits when posted on social media and other means of communication.

It is important for executives to consider the ownership of knowledge as a factor which is a significant contributor to the knowledge of organizations. Moreover, knowledge emerges in two additional forms, including the knowledge that is only accessible by one company and the knowledge that is accessible to all companies. The best approach to knowledge is for executives to know which knowledge is to remain private and which to go public with. A mistake in this area may be vital to the organizations and executives must choose wisely.

Today the question arises whether the management of an organization’s intellectual capital itself can be a source of effectiveness for leaders. In the next section, I pose that ineffective knowledge management may expose organizations to missed opportunities and lack of using leadership opportunities to their benefit given the existing opportunities in international and domestic markets, and how this lack of judgment may concern stakeholders. I also assume that the lack of effective strategic knowledge management may lead to human assets to be ineffective. My final assumption addressed in this article is that the crucial role of knowledge management practices, such as coordinating and hosting the continuous sessions of company-wide experts to share their knowledge, maybe underestimated and underutilized.

How Does KM Practices Impact Leadership Effectiveness?

Knowledge is firstly accumulated by creating new knowledge from organizational intellectual capital and acquiring knowledge from external environments. This knowledge exchange with external business partners develops innovative environments that can enable leaders to create a more innovative climate in companies. This knowledge process enhances the capabilities of leaders to play the role of inspirational motivation, which enables these leaders to directly set highly desired expectations to recognize possible opportunities in the business environment. The knowledge exchange also positively contributes to leaders to develop a more effective vision, including a more comprehensive array of information and insights about external environments.

Executives then integrate knowledge internally to enhance the effectiveness and efficiencies in various systems and processes, as well as to be more responsive to market changes. Knowledge integration focuses on monitoring and evaluating knowledge management practices, coordinating experts, sharing knowledge and scanning the changes of knowledge requirements to keep the quality of their production or services in-line with market demand. It is apparent that knowledge integration activities can help leaders assessing the required changes to keep the quality of both products and services at maximum levels. Furthermore, a systematic process of coordinating company-wide experts enables leaders to propel the role of intellectual stimulation, which creates a more innovative environment within companies.

Executives must also curtail knowledge within organizations. The knowledge within organizations needs to be reconfigured to meet environmental changes and new challenges today. What worked yesterday or a few years ago is changing rapidly as technology has increased in a prolific way. Knowledge is globally shared with other organizations through domestic and global rewards such as the Malcolm Baldridge Award in the United States and the Deming Award in Japan. However, past industry researches have posited that companies might lack the required capabilities or decide to decline from interact acting with other companies, or even suffer the distrust to share their knowledge. Therefore, expert groups may not have sufficient diversity in order to comprehend knowledge acquired from external sources.

Based upon these limitations whether natural or caused, networking with business partners is a key activity for companies to enhance knowledge exchange and it should not take an award to be the impetus to initiate interaction. Ergo, networking with external business partners may enhance the effectiveness of leadership, thereby empowering leaders to better develop strategic insights to develop a more effective vision incorporating various concerns and values of external business partners. The knowledge transference among companies itself improves the effectiveness of learning, which in turn enables leaders to empower human resources by creating new knowledge and solutions. Thus, I suggest that networking takes place among companies in both domestic and international markets which may enhance the effective use of leadership. Therefore, if leaders in senior positions effectively use knowledge management then they may be able to improve leadership effectiveness through increased learning opportunities.

In Conclusion

This article suggests that knowledge management constitutes the foundation of a supportive workplace to disseminate knowledge and subsequently enhance the effectiveness of leadership. Accordingly, I suggest that by channeling knowledge management practices into organizational constructs, engaging in the practices of leadership, executives will continue to prosper. I also suggest that a firm’s ability to develop leadership can be highly affected when executives implement knowledge management projects as the primary form of managing people, resources, and profitability.


Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications. 


Jones, K., & Leonard, L.K. (2009). From Tacit Knowledge to Organizational Knowledge for Successful KM. In W.R. King (Eds.), Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning, (pp. 27-39), Berlin: Springer.

Matusik, S.F. (1998). The Utilization of Contingent Work, Knowledge Creation, and Competitive Advantage. The Academy of Management Review, 23(4), 680-697.

Ruggles, RL 1997, Knowledge management tools, Boston, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Tsoukas, H. (1996). The Firm as a Distributed Knowledge System: A Constructionist Approach. Strategic Management Journal, 17, 11-25.