Technology is playing a critical role within the supply chain, increasing visibility and transparency while also increasing efficiency. Technology can also improve agility and the ability to make data-driven decisions.

Among respondents in the 2021 Third-Party Logistics Study, the majority of shippers reported that they are already using technology for supply planning (89%), demand planning (83%), sales and operation planning (78%), and capacity planning (61%). A smaller number of 3PLs reported using technology for supply planning (51%), demand planning (40%), and sales and operation planning (34%). However, more are using it for capacity planning (82%).

Real-time data continues to provide freight visibility, status updates and enhanced ability to make data-driven decisions. More than half of shippers (58%) said they are utilized dashboards or tools for real-time data visualization; 48% said they had systems in place to organize and assess real-time data for reporting; 45% reported that they collect real-time data across more than half of the supply chain.

The study showed that 3PLs are further along than shippers in their adoption of mobile technology enablers, with more using smartphones, tablets, wearables and handheld devices. Both shippers and 3PLs said they plan to invest leading technology over the next three years. Although shippers are investing in digital strategies, they said t hey are facing competing needs for their resources. As a result, 3PLs have an opportunity to create and develop supply chain-related applications to create value for their customers.