Organizations stand to realize multiple benefits from moving their software and computing infrastructure to the cloud.
IDC forecasts that by 2025, the global datasphere will exceed 163 zetabytes (a trillion gigabytes), roughly ten times the size it was in 2016. Companies risk falling even further behind in their ability to determine what’s important, secure everything that’s sensitive, and locate key data in their moment of need. As data grows, so do the cost and complexity of keeping it on-premise, making effective management of information a top concern for transportation and logistics organizations. A cloud-based enterprise content management (ECM) service can help.
Numerous experts confirm the financial benefit of the cloud. Nucleus Research, a firm that specializes in assessing the financial return on technology investments, estimates that cloud returns 3.2 times more value than on-premise software. Yet many transportation and logistics companies have been slow to adopt cloud services, so the financial benefit isn’t fully realized. Cloud-based ECM can also help to ensure compliance with regulations, enhance cyber security, and simplify fleet management.
Benefits of relying on the cloud include:
Ensuring compliance with regulations. Numerous government regulations require that companies protect sensitive data, including employee files, customer information, and financial records. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) asks that drivers be able to provide an electronic log of activity when requested by law enforcement personnel. And the U.S. Department of Transportation mandates certain record-keeping activities, including the storage of business records through various retention periods, depending on the record type. Ensuring compliance with these standards can be complex, especially in an environment where paper documents are the norm.
Converting records to an electronic format can dramatically simplify compliance with regulations. Many document-management systems allow users to lock down access to information, ensuring the protection of personally identifiable information (PII). In addition, you can set up automatic record-retention schedules that notify you when a document has been stored long enough, and give you the opportunity to authorize destruction. Finally, electronic documents stored in the cloud enable mobile access to records such as driver logs, making them accessible as needed — even while on the road.
Boosting cybersecurity. From fleet-management records, such as vehicle maintenance and driver logs, to general business documents like employee and financial records, every transportation and logistics company is awash in information that must be carefully managed. Certain information must be kept confidential, and breaches of data can be devastating both to consumer trust and company finances. The number of U.S. companies affected by data breaches almost doubled between 2016 and 2017, from 24 percent to more than 46 percent, at an average cost of $3.62 million per breach.
Moving documents to a cloud-based ECM service can improve protection of sensitive information. Of necessity, cloud providers are experts in cybersecurity. Many systems offer multiple protections, including encryption, strong password enforcement, and content-specific access, which restricts files and even individual documents to authorized viewers. In most cases, companies find their security improves when information is moved from their own corporate network to a cloud service.
Simplifying fleet management. Fleet management is one of the most critical functions for logistics companies, who must track current and projected vehicle locations, manage customer and shipping records, and ensure driver safety, all while getting goods delivered on time. An emerging class of technology called robotic process automation (RPA) can both simplify fleet management and reduce its cost. RPA uses electronic user accounts called “bots” to log into various applications, in order to verify and share data, and automatically perform manual tasks such as data entry. When combined with cloud-based ECM, the technologies can dramatically reduce costs by streamlining routing processes and enabling employees to move on to higher value-added tasks.
As your data grows, you’ll need better tools to manage your business. While considering your company and department goals, ask yourself: Where might cloud help you achieve the results you need?
Christina Robbins is marketing manager at Digitech Systems LLC, a provider of enterprise content management (ECM) software.