Experiment. Explore. Monetize: Three steps to implementing composite automation in logistics
According to General Transport Global Market Report 2021, the global general transport market is expected to grow from $1515.72 billion in 2020 to $1685.7 billion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.2%. Further, the market is expected to reach $2250.51 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 7%.
As logistics providers and transport organizations brace themselves for this upward curve, they are quickly realising that a digital transformation can help their businesses and the industry grow in leaps and bounds. Automation assists logistics providers in creating new business models and boosting process efficiencies and output with increased information tranparency. While there is consensus that automation is an important trend in achieving digital transformation across the industry, logistics providers are still hesitant to embrace it. Primarily, this stems from challenges such as the development of automation solutions suitable to business problems, management of automation in silos or the lack of integration of multiple automation technologies.
If logistics providers are looking to match pace with competitors who have already embarked on their digital journey, they need to accelerate their process automations by identifying how they can reduce the impact of high touch and paper-based processes. While automation and a digital transformation is a journey of exploration, experimentation, and automation monetization in itself, this article looks at how logistics providers can start their automation journey today.
If logistics providers are looking to match pace with competitors who have already embarked on their digital journey, they need to accelerate their process automations by identifying how they can reduce the impact of high touch and paper-based processes.
Automation — A confluence of technology and business value
Automation uses digital technologies to optimize knowledge, reprogram repetitive, labor-intensive, time-consuming or error-prone tasks, rewire the workflow and deliver faster, seamless outputs at lower operational costs. The next step for any logistics company to provide an enhanced customer experience is to ensure their processes function seamlessly, with no room for error or wastage of time as this can have a ripple effect on other processes.
Automation digitizes and organizes machine readable data such as xml and EDI, e-invoicing, voice interactions like chatbots and signature verification among a spectrum of other offerings. Further, it helps business leaders equip their processes with decision-making capabilities, thereby enabling them to run autonomously.
Automation technologies such as RPA, iBPM, low code workflow, predictive decision modeling, AI, document capture software, task mining/process discovery and virtual assistants are constantly evolving. Amid this constant state of flux, we need a composite automation technology ecosystem that can deliver business results quickly, at a low cost. In turn, this will create new business models, introduce multifold value additions, democratize innovation and boost the overall customer experience.
Composite automation can help logistics providers leverage multiple technologies to bring hyper-automation to life and achieve human-centric automation goals. Here’s how.
Ready. Steady. Automate.
Companies can embark on their journey towards efficient and agile automation in three stages. As each step delivers significant cost-savings, these can be reinvested in the preparation and undertaking of the next step.
Step 1: Automation Experimentation
In the logistics landscape, companies process numerous documents manually. By implementing technologies such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), they can automate routine, repetitive and static workflows.
They can be categorized as:
- Attended RPA that is triggered by human action and helps in data collection to augment next best action
- Unattended RPA that is triggered by events to perform automation
Logistics companies can leverage RPA bots to automate processes such as invoice processing, account reconciliation, and address change. In this scenario, automation improves efficiency and speed, reduces the risk of human error, and shares information in real-time.
Step 2: Automation Exploration
Automating complex and non-routine type of processes enables logistics providers to build a decision path for complex business rules. Some potential automation use cases are as follows:
- Onboarding customers and delivery agents for last mile deliveries
- Managing supply chain exceptions such as identifying parcels at-risk
- Collation of analytics to optimize price and provide real-time information about market dynamics
- Better forecasting and parcel tracking
Connect to IoT to maximize uptime (increase life yield of assets) and reduce energy consumption
Routing to the right customer agent for analysis by extracting keywords from customer queries/complaints
This does not only dispose of silos but also streamlines the process and augments existing human resources.
Step 3: Automation Monetization
The final step is to reimagine the process and apply automation and AI to deliver an integrated, end-to-end, event-driven intelligent form of automation. Take a look at some potential uses cases:
- Intelligent document processing using OCR and NLP to extract and share the information from documents
- Signature verification to complete delivery to end customers
- Virtual agents for online assistance to support e-commercedeliveries
- Chatbots with a comprehensive database for customer delivery support on web or mobile
- Translation of structured voice logs to support customer information collection
Intelligent automation will help logistics providers achieve efficiency to drive productivity and save costs, boost efficacy with improved accuracy and more agility to drive faster end results.
Logistics companies have a wide variety of automation opportunities at their disposal. All they need is to do is build and boost their processes with the right composite automation tools and technology infrastructure for sustainable growth.