Finding the fixes

Oct. 13, 2014
Being willing to fix what’s not broken can bring greater success

Martin Lee, business development executive at software firm WiseTech Global, recently made an interesting observation in a white paper: Does the old saying “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” hold true in the modern world anymore? Indeed, is it even a wise business mantra to follow at all these days, particularly in trucking?

“During the wheel’s invention, we didn’t say ‘carrying by hand works fine, so no need for that,’ or ‘this horse and cart aren’t busted, so why drive that car?’” he explained. “We instead chose to fix things that were not necessarily broken, and we called it innovation.”

Today, with innovations developing all around us—the burgeoning capabilities of telematics in trucking is but the latest example—Lee believes the freight world needs to pause and reflect upon what broken actually looks like.

“Thinking about whether things are broken or not in the first place can lead to advancements in technology that make life easier, quicker and more productive,” he stressed. “Something that doesn’t appear broken can still benefit from a fix.”

There can be financial benefits as well when engaged in such fixing, especially in terms of information technology (IT) investments.  The Digital Dividend: First Mover Advantage,  a new survey of 672 global companies conducted by Harvard Business Review’s analytic services, touched on this very topic.  

The good folks at Harvard found that IT “pioneers,” or companies that believe strongly in the benefits of adopting new technologies, are more likely to lead in both revenue growth and market position than their peers.

Some 20% of such pioneer firms in the study experienced more than 30% revenue growth, which is more than twice the growth experienced by companies identified as technology followers (those who watch and invest once benefits are proven) and three times the growth experienced by cautious adopters (those who wait until a technology is well-established).

Yet while the Harvard Business Review found that new technologies can provide a genuine competitive edge, companies need to make a commitment to build new processes and business models with it, stressed Angelia Herrin, research and special projects editor at the Harvard Business Review.

“Companies need to become more flexible in terms of technology implementation and make innovation part of their culture in order to realize the real business value,” she added.

For instance, the study notes that 25% of the respondents see themselves as “very involved” in technology decisions, while 48% described themselves as “somewhat involved.”  Of these, 42% were defined as executive leaders, 30% as senior managers, and 14% as other managers. Less than 10% worked in IT-related jobs, meaning that information technology is becoming a significant part of businesses and not just a single department contained within, the survey noted.

What the survey shows, then, is that follow-through is critical to ensuring such fixes generate a solid financial return, especially for those hauling freight.

Sean Kilcarr is Fleet Owner’ s senior editor. He can be reached at skilcarr@fleet­own­

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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