Portal Focus - May/June 2021
FOCUS ON TECHNOLOGY IN THE MOVING INDUSTRY
The Value Test
By Ramiro Quiros, Director, Moveware Software
Improving Processes and Customer Experience
I am fascinated by the commonly shared idea that “the Moving industry is way behind the curve in terms of technology.” Is there any truth to this? The interesting bit to me is that this idea of being behind the rest is not unique to our industry. Quite the contrary, many surveys have found that the majority of respondents on ANY industry think that their industry is the worse off in technology adoption. But we can’t all be right, clearly, so—where do we, as an industry, actually fit in the technological ranks?
One of the reasons this belief is so persistent is because of the lack of a meaningful benchmark to properly compare any industry (“us”) against another (“them”), and it is human nature to think that the grass is always greener on the other side. But what does the best technology adoption really look like?
Every industry has different needs, which in turn create different demands for innovation. It is very easy to look at “us” compared to some of the incredible advancements in technology worldwide, and conclude we are falling behind. Today there are airplanes that fly themselves, algorithms that control 80% of the stock markets, GPS tracking that is precise to the millimeter, instantaneous worldwide messaging, and video calling—what do “we” have to compare?
But the above is not a fair comparison. Our industry has no direct need for stock trading, artificial intelligence, or autonomous airplanes. One of they key components of technology innovation and adoption is the value they produce. In the above examples, there is absolute direct value to our industry to be gained from instant communication and GPS tracking, so it has widely adopted both and continues to innovate with them (e.g., video surveying).
Another issue when comparing our industry to others is answering the question “what is our industry?” If you refer to the chart below of a recent study conducted by The Mckinsey global Institute comparing digital advancement by industry, which area represents us best? We could argue we fit into Professional Services, Personal and Local Services, Real State, and Transportation and Warehousing (as well as others).
The above serves as a cautionary tale of what to use as an effective benchmark. In many ways, our industry could most definitely adopt new technologies, but in many other ways it is doing so at the pace and direction that has made the most sense (from a value proposition) to its efficiency.
And we should know! At Moveware, we have been specifically dedicated for over 20 years now in creating, innovating, and helping adopt new technologies into the moving and storage industry. This innovation has resulted in a vastly larger and much more capable product suite compared to when we started. Today, there are a multitude of technology service providers dedicated to the industry that have helped to continuously push the envelope forward.
The technology products we and our competitors offer today are the ones that have passed the “value test.” It is our purpose to continue developing new technology to satisfy the industry demand. In fact, we re-invest over 20% of our revenue in continuous research and development. As an example, at this moment Moveware is working on a completely new and advanced technology platform to serve the industry for years to come.
Ultimately, what is possibly a much more effective perspective is not comparing our industry against others but comparing your company against its trading partners and competitors. What technology already exists within the industry, that has been proven efficient and valuable to others, are you yet to adopt? You can use this question as a tool to analyze the digitalization of your company, from three perspectives:
Digital assets: How much are you currently investing in hardware and software? What percentage of your physical assets are connected into your digital footprint? (i.e., connected vehicle fleets, automated warehouse monitoring, smart energy management systems, and mobile office infrastructure.)
Client and supply chain technology: What technologies do you use to engage with your clients and suppliers alike digitally? Most companies represented in the Mckinsey study have a wide adoption of technology solutions to manage client communication, client outreach and marketing, sales process management and CRM software.
Production tools for your staff: In the Mckinsey study, the biggest differentiator in terms of the leading companies and industries is the amount of investment in technical solutions for their staff, directed at improving productivity and staff satisfaction. This is, not coincidentally, the area where our industry has innovated the most. Today there are countless software solutions, such as Moveware, purposely built to manage the entire footprint (from sales and marketing, to operations, quality control and accounting) of a mobility company.
In short, I argue quite confidently that it is entirely possible today for any moving and storage company to manage the entire organization relying exclusively in digital solutions, most of which are purposely built for the industry. If there are mobility companies today that still rely on analog solutions, I do not think this is demonstrative of the industry trend at all. Our industry is moving quite capably forward with innovation and constant adoption of new technology, and the successful players will continue to be those who are readily open to technological disruption.