2019 Technology Issue: The art of what’s possible

May is our Technology Issue, and we’ve devoted the majority of our pages this month to the evolution of the technology toolbox that’s now within our grasp.

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And while it seems that the array of options is keeping pace with the growing list of challenges facing logistics operations, its our job to put context around the possibilities that new technology can bring to the market and take some of the mystery out of the jargon—no easy task.

Artificial intelligence (AI). Machine learning (ML). Blockchain. The Internet of Things (IoT). Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). I, like you, tend to wonder which of the latest buzzwords will gain any real traction and actually help us streamline and work smarter. 

Starting on page 20, contributing editor Roberto Michel kicks off our Technology Issue by defining some of these hot tech terms being bandied about this conference season. Then, with the help of some of our top analyst sources, he cuts through the hype and boils down where and how some of these new capabilities may make sense now and in the future. 

“The goal is to help shippers figure out which ones they can bet on, which ones are worth monitoring and which ones may be over-hyped,” says Michel. “Our analysts suggest that you shouldn’t simply latch onto a hot list of technologies and feel compelled to apply them right now.” 

That’s certainly the advice that Dwight Klappich, vice president of supply chain execution research at Gartner, continues to offer shippers. He lives and breaths details of the advances in the technology toolbox, and he preaches that a measured approach to any new solution is the only way you’ll find the right place for them in your operation. 

“It’s certainly fun to keep an eye on the latest terms, it’s good to educate yourself on the art of what’s possible, but you have to flip the discussion around and start with what your needs are,” says Klappich. “From there, you can explore the technologies that will let you address those needs and find the appropriate fit.” 

Those words of wisdom also run through this year’s Technology Roundtable, beginning on page 30. Using Michel’s feature as a primer, this year’s roundtable dives a little deeper into the evolution of workforce management and the application of labor management systems (LMS); dispels a few warehouse/DC tech myths; explores evolving capabilities of global trade management (GTM) and blockchain; and puts AI into a realistic context for logistics and supply chain managers. 

After you’ve been through this year’s roundtable, I suggest you join our panelists for our 2019 Technology Roundtable webcast that I’ll be moderating on Thursday, May 16 at 2:00 p.m. ET. This 45 minutes session allows our analysts to go deeper into their answers before rolling into a Q&A session where we’ll be fielding your questions in real time. I hope to talk with you then.


About the Author

Michael Levans, Group Editorial Director
Michael Levans is Group Editorial Director of American Truck Media’s Supply Chain Group of publications and websites including Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management Review, Modern Materials Handling, and Material Handling Product News. He’s a 23-year publishing veteran who started out at the Pittsburgh Press as a business reporter and has spent the last 17 years in the business-to-business press. He’s been covering the logistics and supply chain markets for the past seven years. You can reach him at [ protected]

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Article Topics

Technology · Viewpoint · All Topics
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