KC Integrated Solutions installs 8X8's cloud communications solution
A leading provider of cloud-based unified communications, contact centre and collaboration solutions, 8X8 Inc, has supplied KC Integrated Services with its cloud communications solution.
KC Integrated Services is a full-service transportation and supply chain solutions provider for North America and beyond.
It has implemented 8x8 cloud communications across its geographically distributed organisation, which spans 14 locations in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Ontario and Canada.
Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Carleton, Michigan, KC Integrated Services provides truckload services, finished vehicle transport, and fleet leasing and maintenance through its KC Transportation, KACE, Tran Tech, and Markare Services divisions.
The company has also established itself as one of the largest Certified Minority Owned logistics providers in North America.
Bob Bergstrom, Director of Information Services at KC Integrated Services, said: “Environmental factors definitely played a role in our decision to deploy an 8x8 cloud solution.
“Michigan has brutal winters and severe thunderstorms that made our previous system vulnerable to outages. With 8x8, we can protect the business but still communicate easily across all locations.”
KC Integrated Services currently uses 8x8 cloud communications services in 14 sites across seven geographic locations.
A centralised corporate directory included on every desktop lets employees quickly look up co-workers, see their status and call their extensions. Auto attendants with both day and night greetings efficiently route outside calls to the right departments.
8x8's internal chat feature and mobile app have also enhanced worker productivity. Employees who need a quick answer to a question can now use chat rather than wait for an email response.
The 8x8 mobile app gives them the flexibility to make and take business calls anywhere without revealing their personal cell phone numbers.
Bergstrom and other employees are also taking advantage of advanced 8x8 phone features, such as "find me, follow me," which allows users to set up their own personal call-routing rules.
For example, when a user does not answer a call at the office, the caller can be given the option to try the user's cell phone, home phone, or any other configured phone number.
Meeting features are included in the company's 8x8 service, eliminating the added cost of a separate conferencing application.
Bergstrom noted that 8x8's Outlook plug-in makes scheduling and managing meetings much easier for users. The intuitive, web-based system administration portal gets very high marks from Bergstrom's technical staff.
“Making changes to our previous system was very complicated, and there was only one guy who really knew how to do it,” said Bergstrom.
“8x8's web interface is straightforward, user-friendly, and highly configurable. We've trained our entire IT team on the new system so we all know how to make changes and can share knowledge instead of losing it."
As a company that deals with transportation logistics, KC Integrated Services has unique requirements for routing calls to its dispatchers. When Bergstrom contacted customer support for help in configuring the phone system, 8x8 created a customized routing solution.
“8x8 has opened up new avenues of communication for us and been a true partner in the process," said Bergstrom. "We believe that partnership will help us grow our business over the long term."
Vik Verma, Chief Executive Officer for 8X8, said: "The flexibility of 8x8 cloud communications allows us to deliver affordable solutions that meet specific business requirements and provide disaster recovery.
“By moving their communications to the cloud, geographically dispersed organisations like KC Integrated Services can eliminate single points of failure in their networks and achieve a triple win: better business continuity, richer communication tools, and significant cost savings."
FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles
FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics.
The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener".
FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, going beyond more traditional applications of the technology in single-route movement of goods from A-B. Exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its broader experimentation in new autonomy solutions, Fed-Ex says, both in-warehouse and on-road.
“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, Vice President, Advanced Technology and Innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”
The changing role of couriers
Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time.
But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse.
“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”
Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds.
Last mile's role in ESG
Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings.