How these freight executives think about AI
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This insightful episode explores how freight executives at companies like Redwood Logistics, Maersk, Commtrex, ON Ideas, and more think about implementing AI tools like chatGPT into their workflows.

Host Blythe Brumleve shares audio clips of conversations with supply chain leaders about the opportunities and challenges of using AI for marketing, operations and more in the logistics space.

Full episodes of where these clips came from:



Are you experienced in freight sales or already an independent freight agent? Listen to our Freight Agent Trenches interview series powered by SPI Logistics to hear directly from the company’s agents on how they took the leap and found a home with SPI.

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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Brian Glick: 0:00

LinkedIn presents.

Blythe Brumleve: 0:10

Welcome into another episode of Everything Is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. I am your host wife from Leave it. We Are presented by SPI Logistics, the premier freight agent program in North America. Be sure to check out the show notes for more information and to check out our series with their freight agents, hearing right from them on their experience on moving to SPI in order to create a better, sustainable business to operate now and in the future. So for this episode, I wanted to do something a little bit different, because I have been a full-time independent podcaster thanks to sponsors like SPI. I've been a full-time independent podcaster since January. I have been podcasting in a sense since 2014, but this was the first year that I actually took the plunge. And now the creator portion of my business is where I focus most of my time and energy. I absolutely still have digital dispatch, where we provide website management plans for the freight industry, so that is still running. Definitely handling like 30 plus client websites managing their websites on an ongoing basis, so that's been going really well. It only takes about 10 to 15 hours a week of my time, so what turns out to be really good is that I can focus a lot of that time now on the podcast what you're listening to right now or maybe you're watching over on YouTube, which we've added that component as well to the show. So if you prefer to watch on YouTube, you have that option available as well. But over the course of the last seven months I have been talking to freight executives from all over the logistics space on how they're using AI, and that is one topic that has consistently come up in conversations how they're using it, why they're using it. But it also brings on the question of how do we define AI in the context of today? How are these logistics companies adapting? We've seen the start of a tech revolution in freight, but is it ready to take the next step into AI? I know this isn't a comprehensive list, but in this episode I want to break down each quote from each executive on how they're responding to AI over a period of conversations that I have had over the last seven months. So I'm picking out the AI piece from those conversations and then compiling it into this episode so you can get sort of that eagle eye high level view of how freight companies and freight executives are thinking about AI. First up we got Barack Sendek. He is the partner over at Autotech Ventures, which is a VC firm here in the freight space, and he was talking about the complexities around AI and how most companies have to learn how to digitize their existing processes and only then can you start the process of automation and the process of implementing AI. Well, speaking of where you think the future is kind of going, because we recorded that one minute logistics video at Manifest but we talked pretty extensively afterwards about AI and sort of the role like Chatchapiti, like technologies and things like that. So where do you sort of see AI fitting into the overall sort of freight ecosystem?

Burak Cendek: 3:29

Yeah, I think I feel like we are not even there yet. In order to apply AI or automate things, you need to first digitize things, and we are still struggling with that, I think, in the industry, and that's actually one of the areas that we spend a lot of time how to digitize existing processes so that in the next, second, third, fourth step we can start automating those and we can start applying AI to those. So digitization is definitely an area that we spend a lot of time. We are investors in a company called ClearNow with the K. They do customs clearance automation and it's all about how to digitize all the different documents and processes that go into customs clearance. And we are investors in a company called Neutral that are making freight booking digital, so they integrate with the TMSs of the brokers and then make those loads digitally bookable to the carriers of those brokers, and so that's one area, and related to that again, like fragmentation is a big problem in the industry as well A lot of the freight. I think marketplaces were supposed to consolidate the market, but in my opinion they further fragment the market, like now, like the carrier and the owner operators tracking companies they need to call their brokers, but now they need to look at three different platforms, five different applications, so it's like getting further and further fragmented. So, without having a layer that enables those different fragmented pieces, both from a stakeholder point of view, like different brokers, different shippers, different carriers, but also platforms, different TMSs, different load boards, without those talking to each other, it would be really difficult to apply certain artificial intelligence related applications and solutions. So that's another area that we spent a lot of time as well, related to AI.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:45

Do you see a world where there's like a chat bot on top of a TMS and somebody can log into the system and tell me the best route for this commodity and I want to backhaul and all that sort of details of how it really could? I mean, maybe revolutionize the industry.

Burak Cendek: 6:02

There is this trend like, there is this trucking in a box type of companies on the carrier side that basically promised that like, hey look, we're going to collect all the loads from different load boards, broker shippers, bring them to one place and pick the best load for you. And pick the best load for your return trip. Give you the you know the old accounting. Give you all the back office functionality. Give you the sport. Give you the fuel card. Also, handle your finances. So I think you know the world is going in that direction. But again, like, in order for those type of applications to run successfully, you need a more connected and digital infrastructure.

Blythe Brumleve: 6:51

All right. Next we have Eze Peralta. He is the VP of technology at SPI Logistics, on the importance of trying AI tools but not relying on them to take you to the next level, specifically when it comes to technology junior developers. He also cautions against the inaccurate data and that these tools can't create a process for you. Now you know we've talked well, we've mentioned the phrase a few times, you know, during this discussion with automating, but I kind of want to talk a little bit about, you know, ai and chat GPT. Can't, you know, really like take a step outside without somebody mentioning it? I feel like, definitely in my world you can't not hear about it at multiple times every single day. I'm curious as to you know what your early thoughts on using systems like this on top of the data that you already have, which I think is kind of where chat GPT, like technology, is heading.

Eze Peralta : 7:49

Yes, I think we use chat, gpt, and we use also other AI tools for coding. We use GitHub, copilot, and I think these tools are awesome as long as you know you know to how to direct them right. So generally I found that for junior developers it helps, but it's not. Maybe it's not going to take them to the next level, right, but in the hands of someone who is more on the software architecture side, where you know data modeling, as we were talking before, or you know exploring a problem space and its solution space and all of that, I think it's interesting because it can provide you a lot of nice insight and it can speed up a lot of the boilerplate code and you know sometimes. But it's not going to help you define your processes better, because the business users are the ones who really know how the process should be and should drive that. And I think, going back to what you're saying about data, right, like I think there is an, you know a, you know there is a thing called the research space underestimated power of the processes over the data, because people are focused on the output, on the, which is the data itself, right, as I'm seeing this spreadsheet or report or bi tool, but that that is just a Output from a process. Right, and what is your process? So how that data gets cleaned up, how it gets collected, how it gets, is it compliant? It, the way, how you're collecting it is compliant, or you're getting in legal trouble because of how you're collecting it, like there are so so much more to that than you know, seeing the number, and also with business process. So I think, yeah, to answer the question, chat to be do we use it a lot, mostly on that side, but we give it a lot of direction on onto what we're building and and and. Yeah, I think it works better the more you know about what you're doing.

Blythe Brumleve: 10:06

That's interesting. I did. You're the fur I've asked, um, I think in like the last four interviews I've had, I've asked you know how you know folks are using chat GPT like technology, and Almost all of them have said that they are. I think you know about three out of five had said that they are and then two of them are Kind of you know, just a little scared by it. But I agree with you. I think it. The outputs are there and you can see those kind of early light bulb moments happening, but it still takes somebody that is highly experienced, that can see the nuance in it, especially like on the on the marketing side of things or even on the podcasting side of things. I'm using it. I'm using chat GPT a lot Dure for that, but I know what to look for and what not to look for. If that makes sense, like some of the the stuff that I'm getting, like I, you know they'll it'll. So, for example, I'm using it in you know Transcriptions, so I'll take a podcast transcript and upload it to chat GPT and tell it to find me. The most you know five you know impactful moments from this conversation, but sometimes it will pull things that we did not even talk about. And so you still have to have that nuance, that experience level to fact check it, to make sure, because it will confidently tell you an answer and it might not be the right answer and and also, these tools are so biased that we can actually Get them to say what we want them to say and they become these feet, the look, look where you can.

Eze Peralta : 11:35

You can basically make chat GPT say that two plus two is five and so and I think you'd set a keyword there. That is nuance. Like humans are very highly adapted to you understand the nuances of Everything. We are always, you know, we are curious minds, are trying to, you know, find all those, the Patterns that don't match, and and you know those details. And I think AI tools Are not as good on that level. So they're very good at you know, okay, right, a piece of code that does this thing, but then you need to go in and find those nuances and make it.

Blythe Brumleve: 12:18

If you just use it as is, you're probably gonna, you know, suffer that pain in the future when you need to go back and in that to that and do it again, because Do you see, I guess, an environment where like a chat GPT, powered like chat box is sitting on top of like a TMS and, you know, maybe for for some of your customers or some of the freight agents, they can, you know, use chat GPT to ask you know what's the most efficient carrier to handle this lane for me? Does something like that exist? Or it kind of sounds like, you know, maybe like a parade would be doing that instead of like a chat GPT?

Eze Peralta : 12:56

Yeah, I think, because Chat GPT is trained for natural language processing right and in many cases to do digital matching of freight. You are looking at other types of of data. It's not natural language processing. So Chat bots could help, mostly on the support side, maybe, and because they will give you they will, they will make it really a really nice answer about this should be your carrier because of this and this and this, but if they don't have access to a Machine learning model that Uses the right signals to determine that, how can you know that it's? It's actually that that the carrier is the best. So I think chat to be tea is mostly oriented to natural language processing. Other machine learning and AI tools I Think will be a best fit for More, like you know, digital matching rates.

Blythe Brumleve: 13:54

Like specialized great activities where chat GPT is just not there yet.

Eze Peralta : 13:58

And we should not underestimate the complexity of the problems we're dealing with. Like having a dynamic pricing it's not a trivial problem. Like matching a carrier with a load it's not a trivial problem. And there's a lot of this also. Like, of course, on a sales, on a sales call, there's gonna be. You know, this is easy, it's gonna be easy. You know we're gonna give you this Number. That is a magic number, that if you put that number in your bid You're gonna win. That bit it. I don't. I think it doesn't work like that. It's. It's just, it's more complex than that. It might work for a, for a subset of people or subset of cases, but there are so many.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:43

I think everybody wants a blanket approach to this, forgetting that there's other people on the other side of the Transaction that have their own needs and specifications and they're all new ones that that they want to prayer or prioritize. Are you in freight sales with a book of business looking for a new home? Or perhaps you're a freight agent in need of a better partnership? These are the kinds of conversations we're exploring in our podcast interview series called the freight agent trenches, sponsored by SPI logistics. Now I can tell you all day that SPI is one of the most successful logistics firms in North America who helps their agents with back office operations such as admin, finance, it and sales. But I would much rather you hear it directly from SPI's freight agents themselves. I want better way to do that than by listening to the experienced freight agents tell their stories behind the how and the why they joined SPI. Hit the freight agent link in our show notes to listen to these conversations or, if you're ready to make the jump, visit SPI. 3 plcom. In our industry we talk. We talk about what works and what doesn't, and Carton Cloud's easy to use warehouse and transport management software Sure has people talking. Carton Cloud's WMS and TMS is designed for growing 3 pl's, giving you the tools you need to compete with the major players with flexible pricing, no lock-in contracts and expert local support. They've helped nearly 500 logistics companies worldwide with hundreds of five-star customer reviews. Want to check it out for yourself? Everything is logistics. Listeners can get 50% off your first three months with Carton Cloud. Head on over to the cartoncloudcom website and see the show notes for more information. Switching gears a little bit. We hear a lot about AI and autonomy and trucking and warehousing, but is this same tech revolution happening in other silos of the supply chain? First up, we have Martin Lou. He is the CEO over at Comtrex on using AI in the rail sector, along with tools like chatcha BT as a pro pilot On the on the truckload side of things that you know. There's all kinds of news you know about autonomous and automation and AI. You had mentioned that you were maybe one of maybe five at you know rail technology Companies at these conferences. Is any kind of like automation, ai, autonomous, like? Is any of that going on in rail?

Martin Lew: 17:09

Yes, there are folks that are testing out AI at different layers of the supply chain. So folks are testing AI out on the safety maintenance side of the business. They're testing it with being able to Inspect rail cars, inspect locomotives. We are using AI. We are right now sort of testing out AI to be able to point out different congestion points within the network to be able to help Shippers identify ways they could be optimizing their rail moves more. We collect a lot of supply and demand data and, because this is all sort of proprietary data sets to us that no one else has, we take that data along with other data sets and we're trying to layer AI on top of that to effectively create a co-pilot For shippers that can help them. You know, help make help, help them make decisions when they're struggling with. You know, should I move this direction, that direction? Should I even move at all? You know there are enough inputs that that can be collected to help someone make a higher probable decision that's going to point them in one direction, the other. But I think AI is something that's going to be table stakes for not just folks in rail but for every industry within the next you know, one to three years, probably sooner than later, particularly now that you have, you know, technologies out there that are effectively, you know, very easy to use type of technologies like your chat to be tea type technology when people can use that. What's going to be my next question? That is, the technology that people are going to use right. That's your co-pilot right and that's going to change the way search is done. That's going to change the way queries are made. So, ai is definitely being looked at and as far as I can tell you know, ai is definitely being looked at. And as far as autonomous, really you just have a locomotive that's moving, you know, anywhere from, you know 30, 40, all the way up to 130, 140 cars. There's two conductors that sit in the train and do I ever think that they're going to be autonomous? Probably not. You're always probably going to need humans in locomotives, you know, uh, to be able to manage the shipments. Uh, and really, that's around safety reasons, right, they just really, you know, you can probably trust technology with, with autonomous trucks for probably shorter haul moves, maybe even longer haul moves at some point when the infrastructure is there across the us. But if you're talking very short standard moves on trucks, it's probably great and very safe. Um, rail is on a track, so in theory, maybe it could have been used potentially, but I think the freight that's being moved is at such high volume and you know, you know as as, as we've seen in other developments, there's, there's, there's so much potential outliers for outlier events to happen that I think you're always going to have humans that are involved with locomotives and moving shipments by by rail 100 and I think you had you had touched on it a little bit with, like the you know, the jet, chat gpt, um sort of information era that we've entered into.

Blythe Brumleve: 20:03

Do you see any kind of technology in in rail specifically, that is utilizing like a language model, like a chat gpt?

Martin Lew: 20:13

And not to talk my book here, but I mean, we, we are trying to to effectively create the database of the repository for all information needed To be able to move freight by rail. So, you know, could I foresee a day where somebody comes into our system and has, you know, kind of a auto co-pilot that will help them answer all these questions, you know, using the, the natural language, queries, you know, vis-a-vis or a type of gpt? Absolutely, I think that every industry, not just transportation, if they're going to stay competitive, they're going to have to think through what am I going to need to do to stay competitive, what am I going to need to do to make things easier? And at the end of the day, you know, when you think about chat, gbt or any you know of these other ai extensions or tools that are, you know, have a similar concept, which right now I feel like there's hundreds of them that are being released every month around around AI. I truly think that it's going to get to a point where there's so many data points and so many inputs and there's so much information that can be all sort of combined into one sort of database that humans, if they don't have the ability to lean on that type of technology or that type of sort of lever. The folks that are using that as a lever are going to have an edge competition-wise because of that not having the technology, because everyone's going to need to be on an even playing field. So right now it's such a nascent product probably very few people have ever used it. But come two, three years from now, we're seeing this podcast and we're talking to each other. I think it's going to be as common as people refer to as Google for searching.

Blythe Brumleve: 21:59

Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. And that's where the data set, or in your own proprietary data, really will come into play, in order to almost put like a chat GPT-like system on steroids. So I've heard it said from like a marketing standpoint, marketing software and things like that, that if you don't have or not planning some kind of an AI component into your current SaaS product, then you're probably going to be dead on arrival within just a few years, because that's how rapidly all of this tech is evolving. So it's kind of cool to see that you guys are already thinking about it. On the rail side of things, next up, we have Heidi Hoffman. She's a partner over at On Partners on the new thought process in supply chain procurement, where they're finding success by digitizing their processes, by pairing a younger executive, who's going to bring some new, fresh ideas, with a more experienced executive who has that experience that can then lay out the foundation and the use cases.

Heidi Hoffman: 22:58

Startups, technology, a lot of technology that's coming online. From a planning standpoint, how do we tie our customers' needs to what we can produce and do it in a cost effective manner? There's a lot of software and AI, a lot of machine learning coming into play. There's some really neat new software or technologies in procurement in particular, that can estimate what your carbon footprint is of your current supply chain. I don't know how it works I am not a technology guru but I think it's just really cool stuff, and when you look at some of these startups or the new innovations coming on, they tend to be a more experienced executive teamed with a younger executive who's bringing this new thought process.

Blythe Brumleve: 23:50

So it's just exciting to see the changes happening 100%, because I remember reading not too long ago that even finding a manufacturer's list was incredibly hard for a lot of folks who had, during lockdowns or during COVID, they wanted to start up an Etsy business or something like that and they were finding it really challenging to even find the online lists of manufacturers that they could go and work with. So the idea that that didn't exist then and now some of these technologies are coming into the market makes a lot of sense and I think it's sort of modern problems require modern solutions and maybe that's where those fresh pair of eyes from folks in other industries, or maybe even the younger generation, can offer some insight on. Lastly, here is Arez Agamoni. He has the senior VP of Innovation and Strategic Growth in North America at Mercec on establishing digital twins and then using the power of AI and machine learning to help that innovation at the 100-year-old company you mentioned earlier. I want to switch gears again a little bit to the digital twin side of things Now, for folks who may not know what is a digital twin.

Erez Agamoni: 25:04

A digital twin is basically a replica of a real environment that you bring it into the digital world and you do something with it. Either you just look at this and you say, oh OK, this is what's happening right now, or you can actually take it to the next level and you create some simulation of real case environment based on real case data. A lot of the simulation in the past was done based on theoretical data or certain elements that you take into account. You can also take the information that come from real live data through machine learning and start to create some simulation. So I'll give you an example. We're talking about warehousing digital twins. So what does it mean? Today you have a warehouse management system, or WMS, where you have certain amount of information there. If you scan something, you get information. If you place it somewhere, you have that information. But you have some productivity information, but you don't really have all the nitty-gritty. It stays relatively in the high level. If you want to know what exactly happening and what will happen if you change something. Wms cannot answer that. So what we want to take is the information in the WMS and then cross-reference it with, potentially, video analytics and IoT devices. That's giving you certain information on what happened with your automation, with your robotics, with the people around, and start to really learn on the spot what's going on right now in the warehouse, how is the performance of this warehouse, why it's better or worse than what you planned for, and then start asking yourself what is the cases? So if I change this, what will happen? So you can start to change things in the digital twin environment and see how it's going to respond and what type of results you're going to get from that. So, instead of going change your warehouse setting and install this and disaster happened, you do all that in a digital twin environment and you basically be able to get your results in very high accuracy without change anything.

Blythe Brumleve: 27:21

yet Because every time I've heard about digital twins, it's been mostly in respect to web three. There's a lot of things that could be said about web three, but ultimately, ai, artificial intelligence, vr is that how you guys are using the digital twin technology?

Erez Agamoni: 27:40

So we're going to use some of it, but not only. The way we think about this will be. First of all, let's understand in a much better way what's really happening today. So of course you need AI machine learning if you utilize in video cameras and video analytics there, because otherwise you just get pictures. Nobody want to look into those. It's not the point. You want to understand what's really happening from that perspective. But then you need all the machine learning power and the simulation power to basically bring it to those what ifs cases that we talked about. So that's kind of the direction. So it's industry 4.0, a web three. So it's kind of a combination of multiple Taking it back to land.

Blythe Brumleve: 28:24

I want to share a couple of clips from Christina Ryan she is the executive vice president of managed services at Redwood Logistics where she talks about how the company is using AI for proactive problem solving for their customers, especially when it comes to weather and traffic patterns that affects shipments. But she's also stressing that the company doesn't want to lose the human element, even with being a tech enabled company.

Christina Ryan: 28:49

Yeah, I think that's a good assumption, but I think one important part of that, just to add, is if we can take a situation that can become predictive based off the data and we can use the artificial intelligence to identify the opportunity of the customer, they can then control the cost. With events like that that are disruptive whether it's a snowstorm or a hurricane you're typically at the mercy of the market. So what happens to demand, what happens to capacity? It influences your rate in transportation. If I have the ability to see that coming and I can make a decision to avoid it, or I can make a decision to do something faster to avoid it, that's a huge win. And then, once I make my decision, I can leverage the automation tools that we have in-house through our software programs to act accordingly Right.

Blythe Brumleve: 29:34

Yeah, I think that makes a ton of sense, because I was stuck in the Dallas snowstorm that happened a few weeks ago and I was trying to find a way to route myself around this disaster, so I could imagine that having a couple more days' notice would have been hugely beneficial, just for me personally. So if you're adding that additional component for folks who have their trucks scattered all over the country, then it could probably better position them in a way that is more beneficial to their end customers and also their business and income streams. Sure, yeah, and so have you had a chance to play around with, like a chat GPT or anything like that?

Christina Ryan: 30:13

We actually just had a little bit of a conversation on that this morning. No, I have not. I'm very eager to see what we can do with it.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:20

Yeah, I'm wondering I've asked it a few freight questions and it's okay in that regard but I've been wondering that the use cases I can see right now are like sales teams using it to build, you know, their cold outreach or something like that. But I was curious if you know anybody within the freight space has started using that. So if you're listening and you have played around with it, I would love to hear from you.

Christina Ryan: 30:41

Yeah, I think there's a couple of very basic scenarios we can leverage it with. My fear, though, with the customer specifically, is do you lose that human element? And you know we very much at Redwood, right, we're a tech enabled company but we're human led, right. So how do you ensure that you have an interaction with somebody that is a human? You know kind of approach, if you will, even if it may be automated on the back end with AI or some other tool.

Blythe Brumleve: 31:17

Speaking of the human element in this next clip. Christina also commented on how the team has approached other departments on ways that they can implement AI and automation by asking what task are you tired of doing every day? And then using AI and automation to help with those tasks. I was going to say, with a lot of that aspect too. I think it's very much like psychological, where you have to manage not only the aspect of introducing and onboarding with these new technology sets, but it's also the psychological aspect of is this robot or this AI going to take my job? Have you guys had to, I guess, maybe formalize any kind of training around that that no, use this as a tool in your arsenal, it's not going to take your job.

Christina Ryan: 32:03

No, not yet, and fortunately for us. We've been exploring and leveraging RPA within our business for probably the last year or two, and the team has welcomed it with open arms, because we really started attacking that with what are basic administrative functions that you're tired of doing every day. Let's use RPA for that and let's start building a base to automate some of the stuff that becomes monotonous, the stuff that is not as exciting to work on every single day. So no, we have not had to address that quite yet. I think everybody's pretty on board with getting the paperwork off their desk.

Blythe Brumleve: 32:37

For sure, and I imagine that that's maybe a role that would fully embrace it. But it was interesting. I was listening to Six River Systems, which is like a robotics company for warehouse workers, and they include a key piece in their training on developing that psychological relationship between the robot and the warehouse worker and I thought that that was super interesting because the warehouse worker naturally is looking at that robot like it's going to take their job, when it's like, no, it's going to help you do your job much more quickly so you don't have to lift all of these heavy things and work around the warehouse. I thought it was really interesting. While we're on the human element side of the conversation, brian Glick, who is the CEO and founder over at chainio, also feels very strongly about how we combine that human element with ROI for these tools by asking can you save me money, make me money or help me become more compliant.

Brian Glick: 33:32

Cancel your Zoom subscription and use something cheaper, but you're not going to get rid of your TMS right when in a downturn. And so we are in a really good position as software companies in this industry, because what we do is vital and the best of us have really rapid ROIs. You know an RPA company can come in and have an ROI that's like a week. Right, that's what you invest in in a downturn. What you don't invest in is hey, I'm going to use some sort of autonomous AI, chat, GPT magic thing that in three years, is going to make your marketing 1% maybe more effective. If all the stars align and this technology evolves in a certain way that I'm assuming is going to happen, those are going to go out of business.

Blythe Brumleve: 34:19

You really think so. You really think like, maybe like a chat, gpt is not going to operate in the next.

Brian Glick: 34:24

But what I mean by that is that's the latest buzzword, right? So if somebody can come in and say, go walk into a CFO and that's really the person you sell to in a downturn, not the CIO and say we're going to use chat GPT and I'm going to guarantee you 3% better close rate on your calls at the same margin in the next 30 days that I want 50 grand, absolutely. If I say hey, I'm going to use GPT and it's going to make your content better, and that's your sales pitch. get out of my office right Like there's a difference there and you got to be able to say we're going to do this thing and it's going to return you this value. And when things are all overheated, you don't have to say stuff like that. People are like oh yeah, I have an innovation team, they would love to talk to you and they'll give you 100 grand to go play with this. Nobody's going to do that anymore. That's more what I'm saying, right?

Blythe Brumleve: 35:19

You have to prove profitability, not burn. What is it? $3 million a day, I think, is what chat GPT is burning right.

Brian Glick: 35:26

Yeah, something like that, and I understand that they're investing in the long term right and that there is likely value there, but it's not. But people like to kind of put the edges of the business case together and then sort of wave their hands and never finish the last piece of math that says and how is this going to help me do one of those three things I was talking about at the beginning? Save more money. Save money or be more compliant right, if you can't answer one of those three questions, you're not surviving a downturn.

Blythe Brumleve: 35:56

Do you see any sort of similar tools or technology is related to AI, similar to what sort of chat? Gpt is the buzzword in regards to taking over with marketing, for example? Do you see anything similar in the freight tech space, that where an AI language model tool could really come in and revolutionize, or is that a fool's hope?

Brian Glick: 36:18

So I think the language model piece I don't know what I do think is the. If these tools can do what they appear to do, which is understand context better, or at least give the illusion of understanding context better, that opens up the ability to start coming after the jobs of the people who thought their jobs were safe, right, and then I think, what is my pricing strategy for next year, like the next? The directors, the VPs, are now. You know, we always said that the desk level employee's job is at risk because we don't need 50 people doing data entry. We can do it with two people in an RPA tool. If they can understand the context and be able to realize that. I need to go out to Apple and talk to them about this unfolding thing that we see related to the chip market and the impact of the chips act moving on shoring chips and do that in a more aggressive way that actually creates more sales or says, hey, because of the chips act, in two years, this trade lane is going to go down. So maybe we shouldn't make this acquisition of a forwarder who's based in Taiwan based on the fact that they move all of this product for Qualcomm, and Qualcomm's going to probably move this to Texas, because this news article says that Congress is going to sign this agreement in the next Congress. Whatever the case may be that contextualization, if they can do things like that, and God, we're miles and miles away from that and the shine will come off of this and it'll be a long journey to get there, but if that is theoretically possible, then yeah, then a lot of things can happen.

Blythe Brumleve: 38:01

Yeah, I think it's just. It's one of those things that it's fun. It's a fun tool to play around with chat, GPT being one of them, and it can help with getting a different viewpoint on your own words. But it still takes that nuance, that level of experience that you've had to be able to look at something like that and say, no, that's way off, that's way wrong.

Brian Glick: 38:21

So I can tell you one of the secrets of how we do our marketing and blog posts on social media that chat GPT has a potentially a very big impact on when I write my blog posts for the company. Oftentimes I have trouble because I don't have a lot of time in my day to get my brain into that mode of thinking of the structure of the story, of what we're trying to do. And I will record a three minute just audio, send it off to someone on our team who will write a blog post on it. Now that blog post never sees the light of day and I then open up another blank window and rewrite. I use that as a starting point to kind of get the shell together and say okay. And then it helps me think oh, no, no, no, applying my 25 years expertise, this isn't right and this should. I should talk about this other thing and it should be kind of the thought should be reordered. Or sometimes I take it in a 90 degree different direction, using that person when I record that three minutes of audio. If they can just upload that to chat GPT and send me back, as my head of marketing called the thing that a 10th grader would write that's enough. That piece of that step we can likely start to automate and we are experimenting with it. But chat, gpt is a long way from. At risk of sounding ego when I go like a long way from writing that finished piece that I'm going to do that brings that nuance and subtlety.

Blythe Brumleve: 39:49

Yeah, 100 percent. I've tried it with blog posts and I'm like it's not so good. But I did take a transcript from a conversation, from a podcast conversation, and I said can you write a summary based on it? That was probably 80 percent. There there were a couple of things that I was like. I never mentioned influencers in this piece but yet it wrote about it. I said, well, that's where the proof reading still comes into play. The nuance, the expertise, it's a tool in your arsenal. It can't be the entire toolbox.

Brian Glick: 40:20

It's funny. Bringing it back to TMS is same thing that this magic theory that your TMS is going to run your forwarding business. It's a tool in the toolbox. Rpa is a tool in the toolbox and rate management is a tool in the toolbox. But you, versus the forwarder who's sitting in the next office over from you in the office building you each have to decide who you are and then pick the tools that work to be the company you want to be Like. Are we the people first, relationship driven, high value white glove selling to a tough industry? Or I'm going to move your generic widgets in a generic container, really cheap, really fast. Based on that, you pick a lot of different tools. If you're that second company cheap and fast let's have GPT write your marketing, because all you're trying to do is turn out SEO and let your TMS deal with all of your customers and let a robot automate all the responses to them. If you're the other company, you're investing in pricing tools. You're investing in something like Winmore to do RFP management, because you're out there taking risk of traveling to go visit your customers and you better win those deals. It's like a whole different set of tech for two companies that are moving boxes. Right Knowing who you are is really important on every scale of that for tech investment.

Blythe Brumleve: 41:50

Finally, I want to end on a couple of marketing use cases, where, first up, we have Rachel, who is the CMO over at Transfix, on how her marketing department is leveraging AI and their content process, especially when it comes to the podcast. But she does worry about the authenticity and how we're walking a fine line, especially considering how marketers have become so data focused over the last decade, where creativity has largely suffered. Well, speaking of the podcast, you guys at Transfix is one of the few companies in Freight that has a company podcast. Tell us a little bit about how podcasting overall plays a role in your marketing strategy.

Rachel Meranus: 42:30

Yeah, when I got here, I think we had just started out with the podcast. We were doing mostly market updates. We also have a weekly market update that we send out. It has evolved significantly in the past 12 months and I'm so proud of the team behind it Jenny, amanda, pat. They've created a destination for information that I think, our listener. I don't know the latest metrics, but they're pretty high. I think it speaks for itself. It is 100 percent part of our marketing strategy. It gives us the ability to and I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give away the secret sauce but it gives us the ability to not only be thought leaders and put our point of view out there, but also to give a platform to shippers, to carriers, to partners. That gives us another conversation to have. We don't have to be calling them to talk about loads and logistics and all of that. We can call them to say, hey, do you have a diversity expert? Do you have an ESG expert? We're doing a podcast on this, that and the other thing and we'd love to feature that. It doesn't have to be directly related to logistics, but knowing that we can provide a platform and a forum for people, whether it's our shipper, customers, carriers for you, we're having you on. That's huge To me, that's just gold right there. It's a very cost-effective way to build a brand 100 percent Power of podcasting.

Blythe Brumleve: 44:10

I mean the power of podcasting has brought us together. It's one of the things where you can have these authentic, just really, I guess, valuable conversations with other people within the space. That quote that everyone says a rising tide lifts all sales. But it really is that these types of conversations need to be had, and they need to be had over and over again. It's not just from a communication standpoint, but it's also from a relationship-building standpoint. Like you said, it helps you connect with your customers on a more deeper level and that probably has much more of a long-term value for them to remain a customer, even though it's not the primary focus of a podcast, but it does have that residual effect later on. Yep, 100 percent. We've talked about podcasting, which isn't really new as far as a channel to market on. Neither is SEO, but there are lots of tools that are coming into the space with AI, with automation. I don't know if you've dove into any of the chat GPT stuff over the last few weeks that has taken the Internet by storm. Are you a fan of some of these newer tools coming into the mix, or are there still some, I guess, platforms or strategies that we still need to be focused on more?

Rachel Meranus: 45:27

Yeah, it's a great question. I'm grappling with it. Just literally three hours ago, someone showed me the results of the chat GPT prompt that he had done, and it was mind-boggling. I mean, it was mind-boggling how well it was written and it sounded like a human being. I'm always a little bit skeptical of all these things as they come out. I'm usually not the first person to jump on it. Content is so important to us, though, and how we drive our business whether it's blog posts or sales cabins or what have you that it's potentially worth trying and testing. That said, I worry about authenticity. I worry about our brand voice. I worry about things like that. When it comes to these particular content AI-driven content sites I do think that there is a fine line and a balance that needs to be met between over-investing in technology and really digging in as a human being to understand what works and what doesn't. It's the same argument. The marketing industry went from not being measurable at all the famous want-to-make-or-quote. I'll never get it right now, but maybe we can come back and re-tape it so that I get it right. I can't get it right.

Blythe Brumleve: 47:02

I'll figure it out for the end of this talk. It will, it will. That's how it works.

Rachel Meranus: 47:09

It's exactly. It went from not knowing how your dollars are being spent to being so overly measurable. Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don't know which half. Yes, okay, that's the way it was. Pre-hubspot, pre-marquetto, pre-elequa, pre-google Analytics spent so much money, just didn't know what the results were. Then we over-indexed to being able to measure things. That meant the things that we couldn't measure got cut. We immediately said, well, if I can't measure it, then it can't possibly be working. I think the industry is finally coming back to the middle ground, which is to say that there are going to be things that we have to invest in that either aren't immediately measurable or won't be measurable ever. We have to take faith and there have to be proxies. Yes, I don't want to spend money willy-nilly. There have to be proxies, but you have to trust that those proxies are indicating something to hang your hat on so that you can continue investing, because if you only invest in the things that are measurable, you will only be taking a short-term, immediate approach to marketing. As we know, brand comms, content, even investment in your website. It's a long game, it's not a short game.

Blythe Brumleve: 48:39

I forgot at this point what your question was, but I think that's yeah, I mean it's very well said because now that we have the pendulum has swung so far in one direction, it swings back in the other direction. We find ourselves in the middle and then we have all of these other tools that are coming in to play, but you still have to be somewhat creative in order to give these tools the prompts. There's like 8000 marketing tools that are out on the market. You have to have that one central come-to-Jesus moment and it feels like that moment always falls back to. Are you talking to your customers? Are you talking to your leads? Are you getting that firsthand in the trenches insight? Then see how those tools and all of these reporting functionalities and how that all plays a role in your overall strategy. Yeah, exactly. Next up we have Shaye Dixon. She is the CEO over at Scale Logistics on how she's using AI for carrier compliance, ideation and PR for other small business owners you had mentioned a few times. You know your love of technology and how it helped. You know sort of early days in your career and how it helps you. Now I'm curious if you, if you've tried any of the different AI tools or anything like that. Yeah, so.

Shay Lynn Dixon: 50:00

I've used AI just for email marketing to our carriers, just to keep them engaged. I don't do compliance. I've never. You know so a lot of things that are specific to the carrier, that they need to know about compliance and things of that nature, I have not the slightest clue. But chat GPT does reaching out. You know I'm using that to leverage its knowledge to share with my carriers, because I like to add value to them as well and refer them to different places or educate them on different things going on. So it's helped me with that and I, you know, double dabble every now and again with writing press releases and things for small business owners. So I'll leverage chat GPT just to get a general idea of what I want to say and then kind of change it completely in my own words. But it at least gives me a blow, right? Yes, I'm using more to help me outline the brainstorm, a place to start, and then I build from that.

Blythe Brumleve: 50:55

So it's helped? Yes, for sure. It is so challenging and I think for a lot of business owners out there that are trying to think, you know, kind of goes back to our earlier topic about when you you know you have to publish a social media what the hell do you publish about? And chat GPT can help you get from staring at the blank screen of what the hell you want to talk about to getting that post actually published. It might not write the whole thing for you and it probably shouldn't, but it's one of those things where the ideation, the research, it can help get the brain flowing a little bit so that it can make the process of getting from blank screen to publish so much faster. That's really where it's helped me a ton.

Shay Lynn Dixon: 51:35

Yeah, I've actually learned to be really specific with it. So I'm like write the social media post in a black woman, millennial voice that's professional from the Southeast, like I will, and it will write it with it. I'm like you know, to take out some of the y'all.

Blythe Brumleve: 51:54

I was about to ask what is it adding in extra for all the?

Shay Lynn Dixon: 51:57

demographics, like y'all and some of the slang is all I'm like I would never say that. Of course, I always speak it, you know. But I'm like first person conversational, you know, educational, so I use it to. I'm revamping our training manuals, so I'm it's helping me with that, just to get the verbiage proper. And then I actually just started using something called sensei and that's my first time using it and it makes the videos. So you can give it text and it makes videos. I'm going to use that for some of my onboarding. So I don't have because I'm a perfectionist I'm like recording this over and over. I'm like welcome to it. I'm like I could just put this in AI and AI, will you know, do it for me. So, yes, I love AI, I think it's good, and people are worried that it's going to like make our jobs obsolete. No, I think people are going to be able to leverage it to maybe route plan or some, you know, meticulous, mundane jobs that people don't want to do anyways. So I see it as a good thing. I don't see it as a bad thing at all.

Blythe Brumleve: 53:03

One last one that's not an audio clip but a tweet or X, whatever Twitter is being called nowadays. It's from Flexport founder Ryan Peterson, where he says one of the teams in Flexport's recent AI hackathon made an exact clone of my voice that can call vendors to negotiate cheaper rates. Now, ryan is a great follow on Twitter or X, so I think he might be a little tongue in cheek here, but the reality is that these tools already exist. Descript is a very, very popular podcast editing tool, video editing tool where you edit it as a text editor, where you upload your show, it spits out a transcript and then you can edit it from there in the text flow instead of a traditional video flow. Descript is one of those programs. It costs $19 a month and you can go into the program and create a clone of your voice and then use the text editor to type in the text and then it will spit out that text in your own voice. So these things are already existing. I don't know that Ryan at Flexport is actually going to use this. It sounds kind of like a joke. It sounds like a fun sort of thought experiment that they did at the company, but I thought that that was a pretty funny inclusion to have on here, especially as we're talking about marketing, because it feels a little crazy that this technology is already here, and I know that there are going to be some stories, especially around elections, where tools like this are going to be used to divide us. But I still believe in the good of these tools and that it outweighs the bad. We just have to adjust how we disseminate the news and who we trust as a source and remaining diligent in the information that we digest. So there you have it eight executives and logistics and how they're all thinking about AI automation and how it all fits into the greater picture of using technology to help us become more efficient and productive with the limited amount of hours that we have in the day. So I hope you found this episode helpful and how to think about using AI in your company. I'll link to each of these interviews in the show notes if you want to hear the full discussion. I promise you they are well worth your time. Fascinating conversations with the some of the smartest minds in all of supply chain, logistics and freight, and then if you have a creative way of how you're using AI and freight, I would love to hear from you. Just head on over to digital dispatchio. There is a podcast section for the podcast Everything is logistics and you can click on that main page and there's a little form right there on the page where you can submit your topic idea or your AI idea. So be sure to use that. I'll also link to that in the show notes to make it super easy for you. But I hope you enjoyed this conversation. I hope you enjoyed the evolving conversation around AI and hopefully this helps you in your work and how you can get your job done a little bit faster and a little bit more efficiently. I hope you enjoyed this episode of Everything is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. Subscribe to the show, sign up for our newsletter and follow our socials over at everythingislogisticscom. And in addition to the podcast, I also wanted to let y'all know about another company I operate and that's Digital Dispatch, where we help you build a better website. Now, a lot of the times we hand this task of building a new website or refreshing a current one off to a co-worker's child, a neighbor down the street or a stranger around the world, where you probably spend more time explaining the freight industry than it takes to actually build the dang website. Well, that doesn't happen at Digital Dispatch. We've been building online since 2009, but we're also early adopters of AI automation and other website tactics that help your company to be a central place to pull in all of your social media posts, recruit new employees and give potential customers a glimpse into how you operate your business. Our new website builds start as low as $1,500, along with ongoing website management, maintenance and updates starting at $90 a month, plus some bonus freight marketing and sales content similar to what you hear on the podcast. You can watch a quick explainer video over on DigitalDispatchio. Just check out the pricing page once you arrive and you can see how we can build your digital ecosystem on a strong foundation. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'll see you all real soon in Go Jags.

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.