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The outcomes orientation challenge in IT

Productivity and customer experience are people challenges

Last month, I laid out Odyssey’s five-part roadmap for AI-readiness and technological resilience. The basic idea was that logistics professionals need workable strategies that will make tech-stewardship a company-wide responsibility. Today’s focus is on two parts of that roadmap: improving productivity and streamlining the customer experience. By considering the logistics industry as a whole, improving productivity and enhancing customer experience share a critical connection: the link between technology and people.

Productivity, after all, is really about how a company can motivate its employees to give their best.. And, of course, the customer experience implicates the customer: the actual people impacted by company processes that can provide the ultimate verdict on whether or not the company did its job. If these points center on how to empower people with technology, it’s important to take a closer look on why, so often, it seems organizations get this wrong.

IT’s evolving take on people and technology

Why is it hard for technology to be people-centered? Why do technological solutions, intended to make employees’ lives easier, end up simply becoming IT pet projects —And, similarly, why do technological interventions, designed to make the customers’ lives better, often fail to fully succeed?

Logistics is slow to integrate new technologies into its operations. There are many culprits behind this lag. But one important one is how IT departments tend to look at technology, and not look at stakeholders across the value chain.

Projects versus outcomes: a worrying habit

Traditional IT teams often view new tech from a project-based lens rather than an outcomes-based perspective. This comes from a somewhat myopic viewpoint where the technology itself is the outcome. Think of all the SaaS point solutions that logistics companies sunk their budgets into over the last ten years. By the standards of many teams, at the time, these projects were a success. They had defined parameters around implementation and experimentation, and the project wrapped up when these parameters were satisfied. But how much value did these projects truly contribute? Did they shore up their company’s bottom line? Did they make things easier for employees or for customers in such a way that productivity or satisfaction increased?

Proactive IT leaders must lead with these key questions before taking on a project or deploying a new software solution.

The antidote: learn the language of business

The antidote to all this is for IT teams to adopt a stringent outcomes-based approach to their work. The more IT teams learn to speak the language of business, and adopt business-driven strategies, the more they’ll be able to close the gap between technology and people.

At Odyssey, we’ve redefined success for our IT teams to focus on outcomes that serve the business, rather than self-contained project parameters. By accepting this metric for success, we’ve been able to become more of a business partner to our colleagues.

IT cannot be nearsighted in 2024

IT departments in 2024 can no longer afford to be myopic. The multiplying risks across the supply chain along with the promise of AI to elevate so many aspects of the work will compel companies to firmly harness their IT strategy to hard-nosed business outcomes. Given IT’s lag in logistics, this situation resembles a competitive race: The companies that learn to leverage technology first will be the companies who succeed. It’s time to start now.

Interested in more insights? Download our new AI Meets Critical Intelligence whitepaper or visit our technology page.

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