Will Algorithms replace brokers?
The race to introduce AI, machine learning and computer algorithms into the freight industry began a few years ago. Many companies are investing millions of dollars into these technologies to perform broker tasks more effectively and more importantly at a much lower cost.
I have been speaking to a number of shippers and carriers, some in person and others on freight forums on the Internet. Many truck drivers are sceptic about what they refer to as the "Uber for freight" trend. Instead they would rather keep things the way they are in fear of further pay drops and bargaining power.
Bidding online on a load is completely different than negotiating pricing with a human. Machines have a set of rules they follow to finally decided to accept or decline an offer. humans, on the other hand, take into account other factors that are hard to include in a computer algorithm. Things like personal attitude, short DOT history but a dedication to outperform are examples of non quantitative properties that an algorithm would never be able to take into account.
At FreightOn we take a different approach. We are heavily investing in technology to help our agents better do their jobs. We believe that the freight industry is based on human trust and relations. A shipper is trusting the broker to find them the best rate out there. While brokers are putting their reputation and future business in the hands of a new carrier once they are assigned a load for the first time.
Trying to asses the level of risk involved using rating systems, performance history and accident history does indeed give an us an indication. But, it does not always provide us the most accurate picture.
We are betting on the latter scenario. That humans are irreplaceable... and technology will always be an aid, at least in this very specific scenario.