Load One president: early tech adoption carries benefits, risks

John Elliott, president of Load One, shared first-hand experience about the benefits and risks of early adoption of transportation technology at the CCJ Symposium. Elliott, who led two breakout sessions at the Symposium, held Dec. 3-4 in Scottsdale, Ariz., described how the early adoption of in-cab technologies such as scanning, navigation, and video-based training have benefited the company and its drivers.

Load One is a full-service transportation provider that specializes in expedited freight. Founded in 2003, the Taylor, Mich.-based company has a fleet of 350 tractors and has an annualized growth rate of 22 percent. Being an early adopter of technology has been integral to the company’s fast and profitable growth, Elliott said.

Customers have responded well to Load One’s early initiatives, such as instant email notifications of deliveries and in-cab scanning, which the company offered long before its competitors.

“Companies like working with companies that have a culture of progressiveness,” he said.

Elliott defined an early adopter as an “opinion leader” who, in addition to using a vendor’s latest technology, provides considerable and candid feedback to help the vendor refine its future product releases, as well as the associated means of distribution, service, and support.

Early adopters have access to advantageous new products, but they also serve as “a kind of guinea pig,” he said. To compensate for the added frustration of dealing with new technologies, early adopters can often get preferential pricing, terms, and conditions. Yet the latest technology is often more expensive than later versions — the hardware, especially.

The primary advantages of being an early adopter, he said, is getting efficiency gains, being able to influence the early standard and to gaining a competitive advantage over latecomers.

Elliott said in-cab scanning, which Load One implemented about three years ago, has given the company a competitive edge in the expedited market. Customers like to receive proof-of-delivery faster. Drivers also like the no-hassle process of getting their paperwork to the office.

Some of the disadvantages of early adoption include periodical inefficiency, staff frustration, and the possibility that your investment will be leapfrogged by another technology.

Elliott said that having a strong project manager is essential to success in being an early adopter of technology. A project manager must have:

  • A good understanding of your organization
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Strong people skills
  • Be an effective communicator