Trucking in the Cloud: Part I

Giving up control is hard for everyone. Being the guinea pig also can cause some digestion. These two ideas have been, in my opinion, the biggest obstacles to the adoption of cloud-based software and services. In reality, these worries were well-founded – in 2002!

Over the past four years, I have been continually bewildered by the slow adoption of cloud-based tools, that may help companies work more effectively, and reduce risk. In an industry with historically low margins, I would have thought that trucking companies would be the first adopters of tools to reduce capital investment and improve efficiency. It is now irrefutable, you need to stop replacing those aging servers, and putting band aids on legacy infrastructure.

In the early 2000’s, in would be common for companies to discuss (with pride) their large server rooms, and physical technology infrastructure. Usually this physical infrastructure was supported by specialized hardware administrators – many that also carried ‘specialized’ salaries. Around that time, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo leveraged the public’s desire to connect into some of the first set cloud-based eco-systems, and this world showed promise for the eventual migration into the business world. Google, via Gmail laid the foundation for a cloud-based working environment via the combination of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Chat (Hangouts) and Drive. This combination is now know simply as G Suite. G Suite provides different levels of service which can be customized to the unique needs of every business. Further, building on it’s open-source platform, there are literally thousands of time-saving ‘plug-ins’ and ‘extensions’ for each of their various tools to improve the efficiency of every business (editor’s note – l am a long-time G Suite customer).

Seeing the future, Microsoft launched the beta version of Office 365 in 2010 after witnessing the growth and success of G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work). Office 365 has seen rapid adoption from those companies which were born and raised on Word, Outlook and Excel. The combination of both cloud-based and desktop applications is hard to compete with.

The massive adoption of Office 365 and G Suite should be the indicator to all businesses that it simply does not make since to be hardware maintainers anymore. But how do you know what service is right for your business? Instead of trying to put together my own comparison of these packages, this blog post provides an excellent (third-party) review of G Suite vs Office 365.

In my previous career, I faced continued resistance from our IT staff about the adoption of cloud-based tools. Instead of taking this resistance as a set of well-founded facts, I should have done more research to understand that this resistance was the result of two factors: 1) Job security; and 2) Skill Gap. Moving to the cloud is not only a capital-saving exercise, it will also reveal and attract better talent, which will better position your company for the long term. Moving to the cloud will cause turmoil, and some of your IT staff will resist (some may not be there when you complete the process). However, instead of making a trucking company stay up to date on security and technology infrastructure best practices, you can leverage Microsoft, Google, Dropbox, and others and instead deploy the same or new human assets on building applications in those cloud environments to improve your profitability – or save your bacon!

In the next post, we will continue our exploration of other cloud-based tools, including the evolution of the TMS.