When Apple released its latest iPhone last month, the logistics and freight world was predominantly focused on observing the way it secured components, manufacturing, and final product shipments in an attempt to keep up with demand, but Apple can teach further lessons now that consumers have the device in hand.
Apple has moved away from its Google Maps partnership and launched its own Apple Maps, which has been such a problem that Apple’s Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook apologized, and has recommended users try out services from its competitors instead.
Devices like the iPhone and services like Google Maps – hopefully not Apple Maps for anyone out there – are becoming more integrated with daily-use logistics systems, making some employees dependent on them. When they don’t work properly and your business makes use of them, it can quickly hurt the bottom line.
In our industry, maps for many products and services typically came from Google, though this week Nokia signed an agreement with Oracle to provide integrated maps for Oracle business users by combining the Oracle Fusion Middleware MapViewer and Nokia Location Platform.
While maps in logistics services are hardly new, there is a rise in third-party integrations as well as services whose main function is to plan, route, and manage a supply chain based on the location of all the pieces of their supply chain. This is combining with the rise in personal and company mobile devices that rely on daily map usage.
For carriers, knowing your routes and trusting your map partner is essential for viable operations. Apple has taught everyone that trust in this arena has to be earned on its own merit, because developing proper maps and routing software are different from almost every other business service.
The other lesson Apple can teach is aimed squarely at the software and service providers: don’t release unfinished products and don’t expect a “beta” tag to protect you. Apple’s Siri and Apple Maps releases have each been met with heavy amounts of criticism because Apple, for the first time in recent memory, released unfinished products to the masses. Users are, unknowingly, the test subjects for these services and they reacted unfavorably because they weren’t aware. The “beta” tag for software that’s unfinished no longer provides protection from criticism because it is overused and because the average user doesn’t realize exactly what it means.
If this bleeds over to drivers or warehouse operations and the experience is bad, the beta tag won’t stop the company from going to another service provider. Unlike Apple, however, few in the logistics industry have enough customer clout and culture to be able to expect to get that lost business back with minimal effort. - Geoff Whiting