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4 Blockers to Driver Tool Adoption (and How to Overcome Them)

Jul 12, 2022 9:00:00 AM

In a recent study of logistics and transportation trends by Logistics Management, 87.5% of respondents said that new technologies were necessary to compete in the marketplace. 

Many businesses that were previously hesitant to digitize their systems have decided to take the leap in response to the pandemic and are now seeing the benefits of a digital supply chain. Streamlined software enablement (the process companies go through to ensure their employees properly understand how to utilize the systems required for their jobs) has helped shippers and carriers become more resilient in uncertain times.

These technologies and investment projects, commonly grouped under the label “Industry 4.0,” include:

  • Introducing IoT devices for more real-time data
  • Replacing low-visibility legacy systems
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for route optimization
  • Driver-focused technology
  • Omnichannel customer support 

With various "software enablement" initiatives being launched by transportation employers every day, what is keeping these technologies from  being adopted effectively across the industry? 

Resistance from team members at all levels - from management to the driver and dock operations, have slowed the implementation of new systems at many organizations. Let’s dive into some common freight tech adoption blockers currently plaguing in-cab apps and tools, and what can be done to move past them.

1. Skill gaps

It’s one thing to provide the technology. It’s another thing to ensure your team knows how to use it to its full potential.

Many drivers are happy working the way they have for decades. Any new product requires a new process that is unfamiliar and something that they need to learn. The training often come with increased pressure from management based on overarching departmental or business goals.

Bridging the skill gap with adequate training and support can help build knowledge and trust in the new systems. Provide training that aligns with a driver’s needs, and ensure they’ve achieved the familiarity needed to use the tools efficiently once they’re on the road. Make training intuitive and continuous over time — not just a one-time thing. 

Tips for breaking the blocker: 

To aid in the scalability of the training program, DDC recommends a "Train the trainer" approach which enables knowledge sharing, decentralizing subject matter expertise, and multiplying the skill set across the entire team.

Additionally, make sure you’re clear about your goals with implementing new technology. Big data software can seem intimidating, but illustrating the benefits of the current use (better route setting, for example) can ultimately help team members feel empowered by the technology.

2. Lack of enthusiasm

Getting your team’s enthusiastic support is key to a successful implementation, but building excitement around a new tool isn’t always easy. If you learn about your drivers’ pain points and implement solutions that help solve those issues, you’ll have a much easier time generating enthusiasm. 

For example, if drivers find it frustrating to snap a mobile photo of each bill of lading (BOL) and key in relevant information, find a solution that makes the process easier, eliminates extra steps, and reduces mistakes.

Tips for breaking the blocker:

With tools like community-building chats and gamification, you can keep your drivers engaged and motivated to use the new tech by injecting friendly competition, collaboration, and rewards into drivers' daily tasks.

  • Community-building chats — Staying connected on the road helps build a sense of community and connection among drivers. Apps offering community chat features and interest groups provide an extra incentive for use, increasing the likelihood that they’ll adopt the software more broadly.
  • Gamification — Introducing badges, competitions, and helpful tips for improving quality can turn a task into something fun. Gamification helps achieve user adoption by making the driver experience more engaging and enjoyable.
    • For example: DDC Sync enables carriers to offer rewards for uploading high-quality BOL images and utilizing other function of the app. Drivers that meet or exceed objectives can earn badges, “Driver of the week” titles, and incentives. Drivers and management can even track points and see where their peers rank on customizable scoreboards within the app.

3. Resistance to change

There are many misconceptions about what digital change looks like. For many drivers, AI in trucking brings up fears and negative attitudes around automation, robotization, and digitization.

For example, some resistance to automated vehicle technology stems from anxiety about losing jobs to autonomous driving systems. Many drivers are unaware of the benefits IoT and Blockchain technology in their day-to-day work because they don’t know enough about how the technology helps make their jobs safer and easier.

Tips for breaking the blocker: 

Be sure to acknowledge the fears associated with digitization and debunk some misconceptions about what it means for the company, drivers, and the future. You may want to bring in a third-party organization with experience creating and implementing onboarding plans to assuage driver fears and ensure quality learning.

Let the tool do the talking. Implement tools with built-in training moments, such as reminders and suggestions, and reporting tools that empower dispatchers to see how their drivers improve over time (and where they need additional support).

4. The need for specialized talent

New technology commonly requires IT support and training that may exceed the capacity of your current operations. Hiring can be costly and time-consuming, delaying the implementation of new tools.

Companies generally have three options when hiring specialized talent: in-house or outsourcing. Hiring a full-time tech specialist helps bridge skill gaps and streamline implementation, but it also involves taking on a hiring and onboarding process. Plus, the more in-house talent you bring in, the more their salaries cut into your margins.

Alternatively, you can contract outside support staff to train your current team for a short period. The outsourced approach reduces overhead costs but may lead to a skill gap as your internal teams get acclimated.

Tips for breaking the blocker: 

Consider purchasing technologies from vendors that include an "As-a-service" option with a scalable, dedicated team. This approach can enable you to adjust support as needed without worrying about hiring and training and opens up opportunities to get specialized talent that meets your needs.

This option will also better protect your margins and prevent skill gaps when training is included in the service statement of work. Deliberately look for a strategic partner with training experts who can build and implement customized training for your team as part of the partnership. 

Conclusion

Digitization is the future of the supply chain. With innovation around data access directly impacting cash flow, the way and pace in which trucking companies invest in their tech stack will be determining factors of financial and operational success. Luckily, it’s not too late to get started.

The most important thing is that your drivers are on board, so keep their needs and experiences in mind when selecting a solution. New tech should not only work for your back office team — it should also support your drivers by making their jobs easier through features like team communication, bill of lading data capture, community building, and gamification. 

With the right balance of driver engagement and outside support, you can break through blockers and successfully adopt new technologies that enable increased success and efficiencies for your organization.

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