After years of freight market disruption, 2023 has been a moment for shippers to take a breath and revisit their supply chain strategies. But today’s soft market will inevitably turn heading into 2024—which means the time is now to build a proactive and predictive logistics strategy, using next-generation technology as a co-pilot.
The potential of technology to power the future of freight was a recurring theme at Deliver 2023, which wrapped last week. More than 300 of the world’s largest brands gathered to exchange ideas and engage with the latest innovations poised to evolve the freight industry—including AI solutions that will power the next generation of logistics and TMS tools that provide complete visibility into real-time shipment journeys.
Attendees left the event with new ideas and goals for tangibly advancing their logistics approaches in the near and long term by considering new technology now. The keynotes, Tech Showcase, and breakout sessions offered a deep dive into how modern technology will help shippers become more efficient and cost-effective, exploring everything from streamlining transportation management to making supply chains more sustainable.
Deliver kicked off with a keynote from Lior Ron, Founder and CEO of Uber Freight, who highlighted our commitment to investing in modern technology to drive innovation across the supply chain for the long term—a commitment anchored in an approach we call “relational logistics.”
“Relational logistics is the magic sauce that binds us, and the connective tissue that will drive continuous improvement and efficiency across supply chain networks,” said Ron. “It’s about bringing a unique combination of technology and the best minds in the industry together in order to improve logistics outcomes.”
To kickstart this vision, Raj Subbiah, Head of Product at Uber Freight, unveiled new technology updates designed to up-level supply chain operations: a revamped, “Uberized” TMS, Uber Freight Exchange, and Insights AI.
“We believe the problems of the next year and the next decade will require us to push the envelope and go beyond what traditional TMS solutions can support,” said Subbiah. “Moving forward, Uber Freight is focused on expanding procurement options, putting eyes on every shipment, and investing in next generation AI.”
Generative AI is the throughline of Uber Freight’s latest software developments. Attendees not only got to hear about how this advanced technology will power logistics—they got to experience the innovative concepts firsthand.
In the “See generative AI in action at Uber Freight” breakout session, the team shared outcomes from this year’s Hackathon: an annual internal event that gives engineers, designers, and data scientists 72 hours to build working prototypes for tech solutions that can solve shipper problems.
“During our Hackathon, we put together the toughest business challenges we’ve had as a company and tested to see if generative AI could help us do our jobs better than before,” said Val Marchevsky, Head of Engineering at Uber Freight. “The answer is yes. The event helped people across the company gain awareness of the capabilities of our tools. There’s not a task where you wouldn’t find a benefit from using AI.”
Some of the standout concepts, which attendees could test out in the Tech Showcase, included:
Additional breakout sessions further explored the implications logistics tech has for the future of freight. “Balancing innovation with traditional service expectations” emphasized the key role carriers’ drivers play in the democratization of autonomous trucks in the future, as they’ll be essential to ensuring middle-mile deliveries run smoothly.
Meanwhile, “Navigating the new realities and opportunities of procurement,” emphasized the importance of moving beyond the standard, annual RFP process to leverage bid technology that expands carrier networks and helps shippers procure the most cost-effective carriers at any given time. And, “Final mile: The high-stakes world of delivering outstanding customer experience” offered a look at how retailers can make last-mile delivery more efficient via technology like Uber Freight’s Parcel TMS, which streamlines carrier onboarding and provides visibility into last-mile rates.
A recurring theme at Deliver was how to make the transportation industry more sustainable. Lior Ron kicked off the conference with a clear message: “Our vision is to create a zero emissions logistics platform. We believe that’s the only way to achieve a more sustainable planet and supply chain,” he said.
Uber Freight has eliminated 2.3 million empty miles from its network over the past 12 months alone and plans to share more audacious goals in the future. During the breakout session, “Sustainable supply chain: balancing cost and climate impact,” sustainability experts and partners elaborated on how they plan to meet short- and long-term sustainability goals. The key is gaining end-to-end visibility into what’s occurring in the supply chain: specifically, where and how shippers generate waste across modes and geographies.
The ability to measure these data points will help shippers make smarter decisions around how to realistically cut down on emissions—whether it’s switching to intermodal or investing in electric trucks—and contribute to the industry’s long journey toward reaching a carbon-free future.
Along with hearing from industry pros, Deliver attendees had the opportunity to experience moving keynotes and learn valuable lessons from notable people outside of the industry.
Nate Mook, activist and former CEO of World Central Kitchen, shared powerful stories about the organization’s humanitarian efforts and the lengths to which they go to spin up logistics in devastated areas to deliver food to those in need. Jill Ellis, former U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team coach and President of the National Women’s Soccer League San Diego, offered insight into how to lead with empathy to help teams achieve success. And Alan Beaulieu, President of ITR Economics, provided a snapshot of the trends that will define the economy through 2025, and next steps to navigate the ups and downs of business cycles.
And it wouldn’t be a Deliver event without giving back to the community. This year, we partnered with Feeding America San Diego to raise money and pack easy-to-make meals for families in need. Together, a total of 1,120 meals were packed in a matter of hours and raised $26,000 for the organization.
We’re grateful to all of the shippers, customers, and speakers that joined us for Deliver this year—and we hope everyone left inspired and energized to evolve their logistics strategies. We look forward to seeing you at next year’s event!