Technology, Transportation, and 3PL Technovations

I was excited to attend the first-ever 3PL Technovations

hosted by the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA). The two-day event was held November 6-7 in Tucson, Arizona, at the Marriott Starr Pass Resort. Great venue.


Technology and the 4th Industrial Revolution.


And Tuesday morning’s opening speaker, Kurt Cavano–GM and SVP of the GT Nexus Commerce Network, situated the logistics industry on the tech-spectrum. He explained how the industry is coping with explosive changes in AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning; as well as, what the future might hold as applications for technology expand and change.

Here in small-town Illinois, we aren’t exposed to these technological advancements on a daily basis, so it was great to hear Kurt’s perspective. He asserts that we’re in the midst of the 4th industrial revolution. I’ve heard this from others, but Kurt focused on how difficult the transition is going to be for everyone.

He shared an interesting conversation he’d had with a colleague who claimed that everything turned out a-ok after the last industrial revolution, and it would likely be the same this time. Kurt reminded his friend that neither he nor anyone else today was alive at that time. There were lots of people who didn’t make it through that revolution, and of those who did, they underwent major life adjustments. As a point–he reminded us of the abandoned homes across the Midwest. So many families faced very hard times due to displacement because necessary skill sets changed.

It’s happening right now, and is likely to get worse as we continue to transition to more advanced technologies. Small towns, like the one I live in, will be in the cross-hairs. Communities will need to come together and rally around each other, accepting and adjusting to the oncoming change in order to weather the transition in one piece. Listen, I live in the rural Midwest–you only have to drive around 30 miles to see what happens when you don’t accept and adjust to and plan for change.




While there were some good product demos following Kurt’s talk, what I found most interesting was the networking and thought conversation that took place between the sessions. It seems to me that a theme developed in the conversations–people were talking about the coming change and the need to “do something” about it. What that “something” is, though, remained rather elusive.

Most of the day’s demos were Powerpoint presentations, and I’m going to be honest–Powerpoints don’t usually hold my interest. The exception was the HubTran demo, not a Powerpoint, which I thoroughly enjoyed.


Technology Experts


Tuesday evening’s speaker was Wade Anderson, Chief Information Officer of Bay and Bay Transportation. He delivered a dynamic presentation on cybercrime and what Bay and Bay experienced. His talk was a great reminder of the damage that can occur and why having a good cloud partner for your system is extremely important. In fact, it might be the difference between a company surviving or disappearing.

Wednesday morning began with an excellent presentation on data by Paul Zikopoulos. Paul’s the VP of Cognitive BigData Systems at IBM. He’s an expert on data and his talk was a fascinating exploration of why data without context is just text. It’s really something to think about these days as data analysis in logistics is one of the big new things.

I also really enjoyed the panel discussion with Parker Holcomb–CEO of Fraight AI, Jerel Byrd–Software Development and Product Manager for Cerasis, and Seth Clevenger–Managing Editor of features at Transport Topics. These guys discussed technology and the changes technology advancements will bring to 3PLs.


FreightWaves and Technology


Finally, Dean Croke–Chief Analytics Officer over at FreightWaves, gave one of the best presentations of the event. Croke has 35 years of experience in data analytics in transportation. You can’t deny the value FreightWaves brings to the table. They are providing great data and when you add to that Croke’s vast knowledge base, you end up with a super presentation. If attendees didn’t carry great information away from this presentation, they were spending too much time on their laptops.


I always enjoy the yearly TIA Capital Ideas Conference & Exhibition,

so I expected a lot out of this conference. I had a great experience. As usual, at these events, the evening receptions were a great time to get together with other attendees, to share ideas and stories, and to have deeper, more thoughtful conversations.

We are at the forefront of great technological changes to the way we do business and the services we can offer customers. It was great to spend a couple of days exploring these innovations and the issues that will arise.