Building freight tech with human workflows in mind [Podcast]
Friday Five

Building freight tech with human workflows in mind [Podcast]

April 15, 2021

What role do humans play in digital transformation? Why does interoperability between systems create new opportunities? How can you maximize the ROI of your logistics technology investments?


Slync’s Chris Kirchner (CEO, Chairman and Co-Founder) sat down with host Adam Robinson (VP, Product Marketing at FreightWaves) to discuss these topics and more on a recent episode of FreightWaves’ stackd. Here’s a recap of their conversation.


(You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, or watch on FreightWaves TV.)

To kick things off, Adam asks Chris to elaborate on the journey Slync.io has made since its inception four years ago. Although Slync.io started out with a focus on blockchain, Chris explains that the technology was over-engineered for types of problems logistics service providers need to address. The company shifted its focus away from the nascent technology while doubling down on its commitment to delivering positive business outcomes to its customers through the practical application of software and services while continuing to address the data and user-enablement dilemmas that exist within and across companies today. Slync’s easy-to-use SaaS automation platform called Logistics Orchestration® does this by bringing together logistics processes, data, and systems for global service providers and shippers. 

How to approach digital transformation

Like all types of transformations, Chris clarifies that a digital transformation is not a finite, point-to-point journey. “You’re either digitizing, re-evaluating, re-assessing the ways that you do business, the ways that your people work with each other, the ways processes are executed, or you’re not changing at all, and you’re doing the same thing [over and over].” He goes on, “In today’s world, [not changing is] a luxury that most companies don’t have.” Digital freight forwarders, digital freight marketplaces, and other start-up companies are disrupting the  logistics segment by changing the way companies transact and the physical movement of goods around the world. 

The impracticality of end-to-end system replacements

Recalling the familiar adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Chris explains that for many companies, their operational systems aren’t broken. Outdated? Disconnected? Sure. But, rarely is the best answer to demolish and replace your entire network of systems. In supply chain and logistics, the “rip and replace” approach is like changing the tires on a car that is going 80mph down the highway. Supply chain organizations and logistics service providers are required to continuously operate, making end-to-end system replacements impractical. 

Plus, a digital transformation is about more than just the system. It’s about the process and the people that support it. Is your team the right size? Do you have the skill sets needed to support the improved business process? Slync.io believes that system integration is about so much more than just installing a tool—it’s about delivering the desired outcome to your customer. 

A human-centric approach to change management and maximizing ROI

Adam then asks Chris to comment on the philosophy that technology, at its core, is about making humans more efficient, and how technology providers like Slync.io take into account realistic human workflows to enable technology adoption. Chris responds by praising Slync’s customers for being very pragmatic and experts in day-to-day logistics operations as well as their respective industries. Slync.io aims to match this mentality by staying focused on identifying problems that need to be solved and creating solutions that actually work. Chris explains that Slync.io approaches every possible engagement with the question: How can we help?

Chris likens the role of Slync’s automation platform to a logistics port. Often from acquisitions or through accelerated organic growth, a company’s technology stack can be layered and complex. Operational data can reside in the cloud, in on-premise systems, on paper, in emails, and so on. It’s not uncommon for there to be five key pieces of information that live in three different systems. Like a port, Slync.io exists to help data flow through different systems, to enable process execution and automation as well as provide multi-party visibility and collaboration.

To ensure its customers achieve their desired business outcome, Chris explains companies can begin a digital journey by taking a single, small step. The pilot allows Slync.io to better understand its customer’s business, including who supports what and where there are gaps in the current process. The pilot also demonstrates the possible ROI of a full-scale implementation and sets clear expectations from the start. 

“We do what’s right by our customer and our customer’s customer,” states Chris. “We earn their business every day.” This partner mentality as well as consistently producing results for its customers is what has made Slync.io successful so far. And it’s just getting started!