The terms artificial intelligence and automation pepper discussions about the transportation industry’s future, often closely followed by mentions of autonomous vehicles. But while self-driving trucks are still in their infancy, AI already is influencing the back office’s digital transformation.
“There’s nothing new or scary about AI, it’s just the most powerful toolkit that we, as a technology community, have created thus far,” said Parker Holcomb, co-founder and CEO of CoLane (formerly Fraight AI), a technology-enabled freight broker. The last few years in particular have brought a renewed push for AI due to factors such as the “convergence of large pools of data [and] cheaper server and computing costs,” he said.
In addition, tech giants such as Google have created readily accessible frameworks, making it easier for software-as-a-service businesses, including those specializing in transportation management software, to “build on the shoulders of giants” rather than starting from scratch, Holcomb said. “We couldn’t have done this company 10 years ago.”
He likens it to how ride-hailing pioneer Uber didn’t invent mobile apps or location-based services such as GPS, but was enabled by the convergence of those technologies. “We didn’t invent natural language processing but we are enabled by the current toolkit,” Holcomb said.