By Jim Best
Have you heard the word? The word is the cloud. But, if the cloud is so great, what’s slowing down its adaptation in transportation and logistics? Is there something you’re missing?
Back in the day, where most of my knowledge, and all of my experience, originated, Brian Tracy (a good one to Google) claimed that everybody’s favorite radio station was WII-FM. This was long before Sirius XM and Pandora, and he explained that it stood for, “What’s In It for Me?”
It proved for me to be a good way to remember some powerful advice: always tell people what they will personally gain from something.
At the time, Tracy was dispensing sales advice – RELAX, you are among friends, I am not trying to sell you anything. But I do want to provide some info and perspective about transportation, logistics, and technology. And I want to focus on “The Cloud”.
In the spirit of full disclosure, when I left C. H. Robinson at the end of 2012 and 33 years, there was already a great deal of technology spend and momentum, and attention for “the cloud”. Returning to the industry in 2019, I was surprised by two things:
- Technology has made great inroads in our industry, but there’s still a long way to go
- Adaptation and/or conversion to the cloud has not been as quick as many expected
In fact, an acquaintance, nameless and blameless for the time being, claims robustly that he saw figures indicating only 6% of the “business” of supply chain is cloud-based. If you have information to the contrary, please let me know. Meanwhile, the 6% figure suits my purposes here, so I will carry on undaunted and perhaps misinformed.
Quickly, to the point, my editor implored. The cloud offers specific advantages to many businesses. After a little research, here are the ones most commonly cited:
- Nix fixed costs – Technology purchases can be budget-busting light-dimmers. If you’re not interested in sacrificing vital resources (cash and personnel) to IT integration, seek refuge in The Cloud. Startup and integration are often as easy as saying “yes”.
- Pay for what you use – SaaS (Software as a Service) is measurable, and providers will bill you ONLY for your usage. If your customers are predictable, and you know what your IT demands will be, maybe there’s no need to worry about excess, idle capacity, or not being able to service your needs. Otherwise, take advantage of the cloud.
- Scalability – Ramp up and down as you see fit – most businesses have surges and plateaus, but the predictability ends there. Guessing can be costly. Cloud services flex according to your specific needs.
- Reliability – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, redundancy is good. Cloud providers make a priority of being reliable; “being available” is literally their business model. Businesses often attain much greater reliability through cloud providers, at a much reduced cost, since the cost for redundancy is spread across multiple users.
- Security – Public cloud providers pride themselves on data security. If a business has strict security requirements, or legal regulations by which to abide, private clouds, or a hybrid cloud might be the answer. But for most businesses, and the majority of transactions, data security through public cloud providers is superb.
Those are five of the most cited benefits attributed to “the cloud”. As older, premise-based systems and hardware become “fully depreciated and finally outdated”, the transition to the cloud will accelerate. Then, the “cloud question” will change from “What’s In It for Me?” for “When Will It Be Time for You?”
Comments? Questions? Caustic remarks? I seek enlightenment. Email Jim@go-EKA.com
Jim Best worked for C. H. Robinson Worldwide his entire first career. He left the company in 2012, launched Best Story Alive LLC,creating “Fun Stories for Living & Learning”. Right, wrong or indifferent (but rarely all three), Jim decided to come back home to the wonderful world of transportation, logistics and supply chain.
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