Noted entrepreneur, investor, author, public speaker, and Internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk once addressed an audience member's comparison of his innovative idea and service as the 'Uber of a burgeoning industry' by interjecting with a simple, yet valid statement: "Everybody is calling everything the Uber of everything." Regarding the impacts the Internet of Things (IoT) has on many industries, such comparisons have become day-to-day realities in the 21st century.

As an industry-affecting concept, the IoT unlocks endless capabilities that have ramped up data cultivation and analysis to the point where ideas have become industry-standard practices. This is readily apparent in regards to trucking fleets and shipping practices. As noted in this CenturyLinkVoice article, "Nearly 70 percent of all freight moved in the United States travels by truck, a haul that totals an eye-popping 10 billion tons each year, according to the American Trucking Associations, a trade group. Without trucks, the American economy brakes to a halt."

As we start integrating the IoT with the fleet industry, which fuels and feeds nations while facilitating trade and shipping on a global scale, we could see the beginning stages of government and private sector trucking company partnerships with innovative companies like Uber, Tesla, and Google (to name a few). These partnerships could eventually eliminate the driver – and driving jobs entirely – with the advent of self-driving vehicles, which are currently transitioning from prototypes to production-ready vehicles. Until that day, however, the fleet industry remains fragmented, both in terms of the volume and size of the companies dependent on fleets and the methods in which these companies manage their workloads.

The old adage "time is money" rings true, and in the fleet industry we can add "mileage is money", too. The reliance on outdated technologies like manual data entry, telephone correspondence, fax machine transcription and order collections, all of whose success or failure hinge upon individuals physically engaging in the process in a timely and accurate manner, has placed difficult decisions in the laps of stakeholders. Naturally, companies will continue to seek out the most cost-efficient and cost-effective means of moving work orders and freight in an age synonymous with click-and-point, on-demand service expectations.

Replacing the Middleman with Mobile Apps

Just like a mobile application fundamentally and ferociously changed the landscape of public transportation – especially in urban areas – with Uber, the fleet and freight industry is poised to do the same with its own apps. Consumers expect to wield and exercise absolute power over their operations with a device, on-the-go and without having to engage the middleman. In essence, consumers want to connect the person driving the truck with the person at the warehouse and, love it or loathe it, the industry is changing in ways that will give the trucking industry a jolt similar to the one that the taxicab industry experienced with Uber's growth, resilience, and increasing demand.

Applications like Cargomatic makes shipping and access to trucks, GPS, tracking, quick payment, and order modification easier – capabilities that today's consumer expects in the IoT industry. Convoy is a logistics application that provides a way for local and regional carriers to manage their fleets by assigning jobs to drivers – again showcasing the integration of IoT-centric capabilities with the smart fleet industry.

Accelerated Accessibility

As the IoT engagement with smart fleets continues its upward trajectory, accessibility increases in-line with accelerated go-to-market strategies. Additionally, applications moving freight resources leverage algorithms that leverage communication between shipper and carrier, financial parties, and billing and data entry points – all through applications loaded onto a truck's GPS or a mobile phone.

IoT smart fleets are defined by new technologies that have opened the door to an on-demand expectation for transactions and logistics planning. We live in a world defined by one-click, overnight expectations, and in the freight industry the demand is sometimes even same-day deliveries. By leveraging IoT capabilities, companies are looking to capitalize on expedient deliverables (pardon the pun) over competitors where speed, reliability of service, and consistency equates to money.

Accuracy through Algorithms

The Internet of Things combines versatility with data collection, which connects shipper and carrier in the most accurate of ways. Companies now have more capability to control their scheduling, define the best routes to delivery, calculate distances, manage freight weight calculations to save time and fuel consumption, and orchestrate a myriad of other variables. Data trends are now amalgamated into reports that yield the most cost-effective and expedient method of delivery with much more speed and accuracy than in the past. Such progress through application-based capabilities will allow the trucking industry to include more small businesses with more competition, higher shipping standards, and more options for shippers and carriers.

The Big Picture

The world of IoT-based technologies is redefining industries that have long been constricted by technologies that kept the shipper and carrier in a void, resulting in wasted time-in-transit, compromised accuracy of delivery, and a less-than-stable scheduling framework. Freight shipments can be calculated and stocked with unrivaled efficiency and a truck and its driver can be on the road in less time as GPS routes predict traffic and weather patterns and road conditions well in advance of the actual transit. With the on-demand, on-the-fly capability to request new orders, drivers can restock and pick up new work orders at the touch of a button, without having to waste time on the road carrying empty cargo. Such capabilities reduce traffic congestion, help ensure on-time shipment delivery, lessen vehicle exhaust emissions, and can hopefully lower the risk and rate of automotive accidents.

Looking to Learn More about the IoT?

For those of you working with the IoT, CenturyLink Cloud® Platform is the perfect place to build your applications. Our global network provides superior performance for your IoT sensors and cloud applications. Our managed services handle operating system and application operations – allowing you to focus on more important objectives.

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