February 20, 2023
Indian Transporters are a hardy lot. They do not get swayed easily by a new model in town- be it a shining truck or a software. They ask very hard nosed questions about benefits, Return on investment, maintenance, cost of spares before they agree to invest.
But suddenly, the transporters are investing in Software as a Service in droves and in middle of a lock down. Why this change of heart?
For many decades, investment in technology was seen as a necessary evil - to generate invoices or to file returns or to pay salaries. A system was typically used for 7 to 10 years with minimal upgrades and that too at very low costs.
But since 2016, transportation received more shocks then in previous 60 years. First, demonetization hit the paper every transporter loved - CASH. Transporters were forced to adopt digital payment methods such as Fuel cards, Toll cards, online banking, mobile wallets. Then in 2018, GST removed all state wise permits and associated paperwork- all rolled into one E-way Bill now. With e-invoice getting rolled out from October 2020, in next few years the dependency on technology will be complete.
Thus, transporters had to look out for NEW technology that will take care of everything from operations to payments to e-way bill to GST to tracking. This is around the same time where SaaS revolution got going in India in right earnest.
Above factors would have played out over next many years but nobody accounted for Covid-19. Overnight, all transport operations were thrown out of gear with offices closed, factories shut, drivers and labour missing. Transporters were required to adopt online tools and Smartphone became the only office.
Transporters are rushing now to upgrade technology and SaaS is the only way any new system can be deployed fast and with low upfront investment. Imagine deploying SAP in 2 weeks !!
Transportation SaaS software also bring in practices used by thousands of users in a ready to use package- thus there is no need to reinvent the wheel. With digital interfaces to fuel companies, banks, toll companies and payment gateways- SaaS removes need to keep so many departments, people and offices.
For many years, transport operations teams functioned independent of technology- on gut feel and on phone calls. With SaaS, finally, technology is now used on ground- when a vehicle is loaded and unloaded, in transit for tracking, capturing proof of delivery, booking expenses etc.
With SaaS- Operational Transformation and Information Technology have finally met. And transporters are loving it