Argument in Favor of Reinventing the Wheel

“Let’s not reinvent the wheel” is a phrase too often uttered in executive boardrooms whenever a new or relatively untested idea is proposed as a solution to a vexing business challenge.   The idea being that it is too risky to invest in labor intensive pursuit of solutions that might improve upon existing levels of success.  It is the “safe” decision to willfully avoid any significant deviation from the norm, favoring small, manageable, incremental changes over the larger, bolder and potentially disruptive changes which can either lead to unbridled success or spectacular failure.

When it comes to leveraging new technology to unlock efficiencies (and the savings this drives) within a transportation department, many organizations are hesitant to take the plunge.  Stakeholders in each functional group have their own reasons for saying, “Let’s not reinvent the wheel”.  Transportation managers are comfortable with their Excel-based practices and their daily interactions with well-known carriers.  IT people are suspicious of the impact a new implementation will have on their responsibilities and workloads.  Finance leaders are resistant to any new capital expenditures.  All of these are reasonable concerns.  Yet, the history of business has shown that the greatest success often comes through disruptive innovation and those that are willing to stretch are frequently rewarded.

Ultimately, the decision to automate transportation management and optimization processes isn’t much of a truly innovative endeavor anymore these days.  The concept has been proven decisively across all industries and, with the advent of cloud based TMS, across shippers of nearly every size.  And although the implementation of TMS and optimization software isn’t new, the process of transitioning from paper-based processes to automated processes can still feel very much like reinventing the wheel to the organizations involved.

To answer the anxious transportation practitioner, CFO, IT director or anyone else who asks if reinventing the wheel in this regard is truly worth it, we recommend reading this story about a company that literally reinvented the wheel.   A company called Aperia Technologies has invented a self-monitoring and self-inflating commercial truck tire.  When the wheel recognizes pressure has fallen below optimal tolerance, the wheel re-inflates itself using a breakthrough pump device situated inside the wheel’s rim.  The FMCSA estimates that maintaining properly inflating tires can save each truck $2,200 per year!

The moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to reimagine your transportation management process using automation technologies like TMS, optimizers and others.  It’s not literally reinventing the wheel and with a seasoned, proven technology provider, it isn’t really very disruptive at all.  The benefits far outweigh the liabilities.

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