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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

How Data Will Drive the Transportation Industry in 2020

Three trends in the transportation industry all share one key component: they’re being driven by data.

The transportation industry is undergoing a dramatic transformation. Over the past few years, consumer preferences have become a driving factor in every aspect of business operations, from supply chain management to last-mile delivery. As consumer expectations continue to evolve, the industry will bring more revolutionary technologies to market to meet these demands.

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In addition to consumer preferences, several other trends are taking shape that will impact the future of our industry. With many transportation companies hyper-focused on safety, compliance, and innovation, technology will become even more central to their business strategy in 2020. In particular, the availability of automation technology, the onset of 5G, and new opportunities for data analysis will bring many opportunities -- if companies are willing to jump on them.

Although there will be many new innovations in 2020, here are three trends to keep your eye on:

Prediction #1: Automation will become more than just a buzzword

The rising influence of automation technology has already overhauled transportation industry conventions. In 2020, we will see this trend continue on a greater scale. The key trend to watch in the coming year is the maturation of automation technologies. For example, artificial intelligence (AI) will start demonstrating its immediate impact for fleet managers and drivers.

The ability to automate insights, alerts, reports and data exchange more quickly will also be a game-changer for many transportation companies. Fleet and truck adjustments will be powered by data in real time, improving the industry standard across the board. Driver safety and retention will see a boost from these standards. Increased access to data will open further communication transparency between carrier and driver. The technology is certainly something to marvel at, but taking the time to implement it past the awe factor and reap its benefits will be essential. Companies must exercise due diligence in applying data-driven technology because their competitors likely will. The lesson is clear; adapt or fall behind.

Prediction #2: 5G will power new opportunities, including real-time data collection and the connected roadway

The advent of new technologies in transportation continues to evolve industry practices at a rapid pace. As network connectivity continues to improve, customers are benefiting from convenience and speed. The eventual culmination of this evolution is the autonomous roadway.

In 2020, the industry will experience the rise of 5G, which will drive the framework for the connected roadway. The increased bandwidth of 5G will allow for the placement of advanced sensors on roadways and traffic signals. The sensors will kick-start real-time data collection that allows for living 3-D maps, affording a safe environment for autonomous vehicles.

The growth of 5G technology will allow for all fundamental components of an autonomous roadway to be built out; regulatory standards and safety practices can be tested and put into practice, eventually leading to the construction of smart infrastructures on a global scale. The more companies can educate themselves now about 5G’s capabilities and its adoption, the more successful they will be in 2020 and beyond.

Prediction #3: Retailers will prioritize real-time data analysis and adapt their operations based on findings

This year, retailers such as Walmart and Target followed Amazon’s leap into the product delivery market. In 2020, we can expect more retailers to follow this path. Subsequent competition will force more retailers to start prioritizing real-time data analytics. E-commerce retailers such as Amazon have already raised customer expectations through this practice. Gartner research shows that the average time from purchase to delivery continues to decrease, and we can expect Amazon and others to continue focusing on ways to enhance performance.

In a necessary effort to meet these growing expectations, industry parties will prioritize the collection and analysis of customer data to support business decisions across their value chain. Shipping routes and inventory stocking patterns will shift in relation to patterns informed by this data. Companies should make a concerted effort to further leverage data when making critical business decisions. In order for companies to remain efficient in the coming year, they must be able to remain flexible and adapt their operations as they gain more insights from their data.

A Final Word

The impact of new technologies and data will be felt across the transportation industry in 2020. Companies that are willing to embrace these new trends will succeed, creating a better environment for their employees and customers. Companies that chose to ignore them will be left in the dust.

About the Author

Ashim Bose is the chief data scientist and vice president of artificial intelligence/machine learning and data at Omnitracs. Bose oversees Omnitracs’ data and AI offerings and operations, helping customers with actionable insights that support their broader business goals. For more than 27 years, Bose has leveraged data science and AI to bring significant long-term value to his companies, including enhanced financial performance and substantial company growth.

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