That White House report on artificial intelligence did conclude that digitalization devours jobs. But it also forecast that digitalization will make many other workers more productive and in-demand. That makes sense. We were recently spoke to several digital enterprise architects at freight companies – a profession that until relatively recently didn’t exist. And the nett effect? When Pew canvassed technology experts, the majority (albeit, a slim one) believed that technology will create more jobs than it displaces.
Freight companies are no strangers to technology either. A recent Drewry paper on the impact of freight industry digitalization noted that 3PLs are already investing in sales automation. They confidently predict that nearly all transactional activities with low returns, from lead generation to freight settlement, will eventually move online.
While middlemen may be at risk from technology, most forwarders today go well beyond that, functioning as contract logistics providers, domestic truckers, and even software providers. Roland Berger predicts that tomorrow’s winners will tap technology to shift from the traditional intermediary role to one of three options:
- Becoming more asset-based
- Becoming more service-based
- Transforming into a specialist service provider.
Meanwhile, forwarders that won’t (or can’t) change business model, may indeed face commoditization.