Trucks at Work

Few seem ready for the digital business transition

As the wonderful wonders of the “digital economy” continue to be touted far and wide – though not without some significant worries as well – it seems the “vast majority” of so-called “traditional” companies are prepared to take advantage of this shift.

That’s something the trucking industry needs to think about, and not just in terms of cyber security. For while there will always be a significant physical component to moving freight – stuff doesn’t get from here to there without a truck, a driver, fuel, roadways, etc. – the growth of the digital synapses behind those moves is rapidly changing the industry’s traditional business models.

That’s a huge issue affecting more than just motor carriers, according to a survey of 1,000 executives worldwide conducted by Odgers Berndtson and Forrester Research.

Their recent State of Digital Business Report revealed that, while executives understand the potential that digital has to transform how businesses create and deliver value to customers, more than four out of five companies (84%) do not have the necessary skills and talent to execute this transformation.

Indeed, the vast majority of companies are unprepared for the move to digital business models, including online products, sales and services that will begin to dominate their revenue potential within the next five years.

And this is no small market, as Forrester estimates that the U.S. business-to-business e-commerce market will top $1.3 trillion by 2020.

“With the anticipated dramatic impact on business revenues and growth, it’s concerning that a significant number of executives have little confidence in the digital talent within their organizations,” noted Jay Hussey, the head of Odgers Berndtson’s U.S. technology noted in the report.

“While technology deployment is important, digital transformation is fundamentally about people and having the right talent acquisition and retention strategies in place,” he explained. “This presents a significant risk for many organizations, since the search for top talent in this field is highly competitive and the digital talent pool is limited.”

Despite clear optimism surrounding the potential that digital has to drive revenue growth – with 46% of survey respondents estimating that more than half of their sales will depend on digital within five years – Hussey said executives are concerned about their organization’s readiness for this digital transformation.

For example, only 21% of respondents feel they are equipped with the right team to define their digital strategy, the Odgers poll found, while only 14% believe they have the necessary processes in place to implement it.

Here are some other issues uncovered by the Odgers survey worth noting:

  • Company culture is fundamental to ensuring digital strategies can thrive. Yet 79% of those company leaders said they do not currently believe they have the right culture in place to succeed.
  • Only 26% of survey respondents agreed that “Our CEO sets a clear vision for digital in our business.”
  • Only 19% of those executives polled believe they have the right technology in place to execute their digital strategy.
  • In addition, just 14% of executives indicated they are confident that their company has the right processes to execute the digital strategy.

Looking at the specific impacts of digital trends on key business sectors, The Odgers survey found that no industry will escape the impact of emerging digital business models and disruptive technologies, including business to business industries, consumer packaged goods, and wholesale sales

On top of that, several industries are expected to be more affected by this rapid “digital shift” than others.

Healthcare topped the list, with 94% of respondents anticipating massive disruption over the next twelve months as a result of data management challenges and the entry of traditionally non-healthcare companies like Apple, Google, and Nike into the ecosystem.

The retail industry followed, with 91% expecting significant change as a result of online growth within the next twelve months.

By 2018, Forrester expects “web-impacted retail” to account for 59% of all retail sales, forecasting cross-channel sales of $1.8 trillion and online sales of $414 billion.

The firm added that so-called “digital experiences” are also expected to drive 58% of overall sales by 2020 with 12% of retailers expected to be completely digital by then.

How might a trucking company be affected if 12% of its retail shipping customers suddenly went “all-digital”? That’s a question worth asking and answering very quickly if such trends turn out to be real.

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