RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Accenture’s Technology Vision 2020 found that the technological landscape for Freight and Logistics (F&L) companies was upended. Even before COVID-19.
  • 85% of F&L executives know that technology is an inextricable part of the human experience. And they’re not keeping up with changing expectations.
  • To stand out, F&L companies need technologies to be more human, in sync with people’s needs and even their values.
  • A new path forward—built on new models of engagement—is necessary to make it through the current crisis and emerge stronger than before.


Over the past decade, F&L companies have embraced digital transformation and embedded new technologies in all aspects of their operations. Dynamic routing, smart container sensors, enhanced GPS systems, chatbots and cloud platforms are now common in the industry. They’re still critically important. But they no longer offer a competitive advantage.

The industry’s rush to everything digital mimicked what was happening in consumers’ personal lives. People have adopted technologies at an astounding pace. Now, their expectations are growing. And changing. People no longer want to plug into a digital experience. They want digital technologies to plug into—and elevate—their own human experience.

Unfortunately, many F&L companies are failing to keep up with today’s demand for human-centered solutions. As a result, they risk losing customers—and revenue. They can keep both by aligning technology with their employees’ and costumers’ evolving expectations for a fuller human experience.

F&L employees and customers, like everyone else, no longer distinguish between their “digital” lives and their “real” lives. And they have little patience for an employer or an F&L service provider that fails to acknowledge the convergence.

F&L companies must navigate a post-digital world

Accenture’s Technology Vision 2020 revealed four trends that can help F&L leaders create more human-centric experiences and accelerate their digital transformations.

The “I” in experience

Our research suggests that F&L companies have the opportunity to turn passive customers into engaged participants.

AI and me

Emerging uses of AI can help F&L companies reimagine all aspects of the organization. It’s about more than deploying AI for automation.

Robots in the wild

Extending the use of robots from ports & warehouses to environments in which they interact with more employees & customers.

Innovation DNA

F&L companies can put the human first by using Distributed ledgers, Artificial intelligence, extended Reality & Quantum Computing (DARQ).

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F&L is on the move

89%

of F&L executives believe they need to elevate their relationships with customers as partners.

79%

of F&L companies are expecting to use robots in uncontrolled environments in three years.

62%

of F&L companies are adopting or piloting AI solutions.

From short-term recovery to long-term growth

The aim for F&L companies in the short-term is to outmaneuver uncertainty. Over the longer term, they need to move into recovery and growth. That means re-imagining what they do and how they do it. Here are five ways they can get started:

  • Use AI and Me thinking to empower the post-digital employee. AI-enabled video analytics can be used to identify container, pallet or package damage. AI-enabled chatbots can respond to customer quote requests. And connected railcar or port solutions can bundle various AI-enabled components such as sensors with big data analytics to achieve unprecedented visibility, optimize maintenance and utilization, and boost workforce efficiency.
  • Engage with the post-digital customer by putting “I” in experience. Digital platforms that manage storage and transport capacity, and automated processes can improve the customer experience. Logistics Demand Forecasting holds particular potential for meeting customer demand. And cloud-based solutions that integrate logistics with port functions have the potential to transform customer relationships.
  • Extend Robots in the Wild, to uncontrolled environments. Integrated solutions—such as connecting autonomous vehicles delivering goods to a warehouse with robots that can unload, unpack, sort and reload products with minimal human intervention—deliver human-centered value in new ways.
  • Ensure that data and services are secure. Cyber dashboards can use AI and machine learning to monitor the threat landscape in real-time. Augmented reality simulations of attacks can help determine a company’s resiliency and identify specific vulnerabilities that could harm the company and its employees or customers.
  • Strengthen the innovation DNA. Teaming with industry peers is important in the area of green shipping. More than 65 shippers, carriers and freight forwarders have joined forces under the Clean Cargo banner to share experiences, expertise and knowledge. There are also opportunities to leverage emerging technologies such as virtual reality for workforce training.

F&L is in the driver’s seat

F&L companies can leverage the power of stronger, better human-technology interactions to improve customer engagement, business resiliency and flexibility. The actions they take today will not only help them rebuild during the industry’s recovery, but also set a foundation for long-term growth and emerge stronger than before.

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