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Choosing a Technology Partner in Transportation

technology.jpgTo be an early adopter, or to go with the established player? When it comes to choosing a technology partner, this question looms large for many transportation companies. Should we invest in big box technology that has dominated the marketplace for years or should we take a chance on an up-and-comer whose platform is mobile and poised for future enhancements?  

As a kid, we were excited when my father announced that our family was going to pick out a new color television. That meant hopping into the station wagon and heading down to the store to choose between the only three choices available. In those days the technology marketplace was dominated by the “Big Three” and the thought of even considering a foreign brand never crossed my dad's mind.   

The salesman on the floor proudly boasted to my dad we could not go wrong with any of the three choices since these giants will dominate the industry for decades. Once the choice was made and my parents were filling out paperwork I walked over to the transistor radio section and looked at the choices available. I was intrigued by one brand in particular: Sony. The salesman quickly assured me that I should not waste my time with them. They won't catch on here in the good ol' US of A.  

Decision Time

Fast forward many years and trucking company executives are facing a similar decision that will have a profound effect on their company for years to come. Many jumped into the E-Log marketplace early and invested millions in high-tech equipment.   

Now that the FMCSA has put forth the long awaited ELD Mandate, which takes effect in December 2017, the marketplace has exploded with choices.   

Do we move forward with the big boys whose product offering is time tested and many drivers have experienced or do we think outside the box and listen to the upstarts who claim the world is changing and those platforms are not sustainable? 

They use terms like open platform, APIs, system integration and platform unification. All this plus it works on your android or iOS device. Then they mention their pricing and how easy it is to use and executives sit up in their chairs.   

Mobility

Mobile apps in business are not new.  Many companies use apps for recruitment, paperwork, policies, family connections and driver lifestyles. Many run their own telematics platform or outsource the data to a third party to provide productive analysis back to them for a very low cost.   

Industry analysis predicts that by the year 2020 there will be anywhere from 25 billion to 40 billion or more mobile devices of various kinds in the market globally. Mobile devices are now tracking people, which is the next phase of protecting trucking’s most valuable asset – The Driver.  Companies today are looking to make things simpler for drivers as well as back-end managers, providing a single sign-on and system integration.  

So the question remains for many trucking company owners to ponder. Should we invest in big box technology that has dominated the marketplace for years (like Zenith and RCA) or do we take a chance on an up-and-comer whose platform is mobile and poised for future enhancements (Sony)?   

Then again, which is the riskier option...? 

[Bucking Driver Turnover with Wellness] An interview with Melton Truck Lines

Topics: Transportation Leadership / Strategy