Supply chain automation provides a significant opportunity for maximizing return on investment (ROI) across all supply chain systems. For example, ARC Advisory Group found a typical ROI of implementing a transportation management system (TMS) of approximately 8.5%. However, leveraging TMS automation features can dramatically push that value upward. More importantly, TMS automation features include a full lineup of potential applications, and to make an informed decision, supply chain executives should evaluate these three core areas of the TMS.
Level of Connectivity of TMS Automation Features
Cloud-Based Capabilities That Scale With Need
Cloud computing capabilities allow for rapid expansion and contraction of TMS automation features as software vendors develop new protocols and capabilities. By keeping the system within a cloud environment, software vendors can roll out new automated capabilities without disrupting your supply chain. Furthermore, the cloud is immensely scalable, allowing an organization to increase or decrease the use of the SaaS platform without necessarily seeing a sudden increase in the costs of using the system. Modern enterprises that are high-performing, have a “cloud-first” mentality as the cloud is accessible at all times and immediately provides a means to create a remote-access and -controlled supply chain focused on TMS mobility. Combining the cloud with automation through self-provisioning systems further enhances its appeal as users have a higher rate of adoption, bolstering investment ROI.
Transportation Optimization Capabilities and Intuitive Executions
A final area of consideration in the evaluation of TMS automation features involves the use of intuitive executions and optimization capabilities. This is a fancy way of describing robotics process automation (RPA). RPA refers to the use of advanced systems, including artificial intelligence, to analyze and act upon incoming information without necessarily needing human intervention. The most widely referenced example in RPA includes the use of automated replies to emails via chatbots. However, the advancements in RPA open the door to using insights and data collected through RPA processes to populate data within a TMS and intervene when necessary. RPA has the potential to become a self-intervening capability to propel transportation management to a new level.