How to Embrace Technology to Keep Your Trucking Company Protected
Apex Experts: Daniel Henderson Offers Tips on Security and Fast Funding Options
Embracing technology and all its benefits can help trucking companies remain competitive and successful in such a large industry. But eighteen-wheeling down the information highway has potentially dangerous turns. Daniel Henderson, Chief Information Officer for Apex Capital, brings 22 years of experience in software development and engineering as well as information technology. He understands the importance of instant payments, digital invoicing, and lane data. But he also knows tech criminals lurk in dark tunnels. He’s here to offer advice on cyber security and technical savvy.
How has Apex embraced the technology that is modernizing the trucking industry?
Our history of paper here at Apex highlights how much the trucking industry has embraced technology. Back in 2009, everything was paper, and everything was mailed. Over time we moved to digital copies. In 2013, we released our mobile app where you can take a picture of that invoice or bill of lading, send it in, and we send out the advance payment the same day.
We’ve tried to keep one eye on our clients and one eye on technology and then think about what makes sense for us to incorporate into our business. One area of improvement over the years has been with KYC, Know Your Customer. We need to verify who they are, verify that they’re not on a prohibited list, and that they are not a business risk. For our clients that factor with us, are they working with a reputable broker? We vet a list of our brokers and we’ve done KYC checks on them. We’re moving money, so we need to be careful.
Incorporating the mobile phone is a huge part of our change in technology with the Apex Mobile Factoring™ app. Everybody has a mobile phone, so how do we use mobile phones to help our business? Use the mobile app to submit your invoices for factoring and you get paid faster. There’s so much we can do with technology.
How beneficial is it for trucking companies to get rid of paper and go digital?
In 2009 a lot of brokers weren’t accepting anything but originals. So, there was a period where it was crawl, walk, run with moving from paper to electronic documents being accepted everywhere. We started very early in 2009 talking with various brokers. Some of them would require emails of the copies, and they would pay off those copies. We started watermarking originals but sending them digitally to make sure the brokers were paying off it. Once we got that ball rolling, we watermarked it with information that said this is a certified original.
For the trucking company, the cost-saving component of email is you are no longer buying stamps and snail mailing, whether it’s a bunch of invoices or single invoices. Now that pendulum has really swung the other way, especially during COVID when there was nobody in the office. By then we had fully moved our paperwork to electronic and our brokers were accepting those. Payment is a big deal because it is way quicker when you are working digitally. You could take a picture, send us the invoice, we could purchase it, and then advance it the same day, even in minutes.
By using instant payments, do trucking companies get better funding options?
A big thing in technology that we’ve pushed hard the last few years is instant payments. Same-day funds used to be traditionally Wire, ACH, or check. Now we have blynk®, our digital payment system. When we first launched those programs several years ago, it was so exciting to be on the phone with the first few clients who said, “I got my payment! It’s in my bank account right now as we’re talking on the phone!”
Part of the reason we exist as a factor is for cash flow. If we get that cash flow to the client quicker, that’s a win-win. There are also other technologies on the horizon that we are watching and investing in for our clients.
What are some tips on data privacy and protection for trucking companies?
This is universal, very basic, and simple. You don’t need to be a computer genius. When an update comes out, update that software, firmware, everything. I’ve written software my whole career and no software is perfect. There’s always going to be potential for a bug to exploit and there are bad guys looking to exploit that bug.
Use multi-factor authentication, whether it’s an authenticator app through Google or Microsoft or some other type of SMS through the phone. Biometrics is big, whether it’s your thumb, your face, or your eye. Cameras are so prevalent, and face recognition is becoming more common.
Limit access to data. Here at Apex, not everybody can access all data because we chop it up. You want to limit exposure to data, but also limit your networks and train your employees. I can’t promote enough password management, have long passwords, don’t use dictionary-based passwords, don’t reuse passwords, and change them often. Use different passwords at different places so that if one of them gets compromised, everything’s not compromised.
Get training in phishing and social engineering so you can recognize them. At Apex, we’re never going to ask you for your credentials over the phone or via email. Always look for the telltale signs.
When you’re on the internet, know where you’re going. There are Trojan horses out there, there’s malware. Have antivirus on your personal laptop, and have firewalls. We have corporate protection on all our hardware. You want to stop somebody in the parking lot before they come into the building. You want to stop them in the lobby before they get upstairs. You want to stop them at the front desk before they get into the office. It’s about layers in cyber security.
Can staying savvy on technology help enhance and grow your trucking business?
Right now, the buzz is on AI, artificial intelligence. But it’s not delivering on the promises it’s making. It’s not yet where we tell the computer to do something, and it can do all these complicated things. The part of AI that everybody’s into right now is machine learning. There are lots of people doing various types of machine learning.
There is also blockchain. What it can do for the industry is, say, the BOL, you could ensure that you know there’s not double brokering going on and that a company legitimately produced the BOL. Then you know that it’s not a fraudulent copy. But it’s a slow and distributed database. Where does it make the most sense? There are things that a trucking company should definitely keep tabs on when it comes to technology. Be discriminatory about picking and choosing what would work for your trucking company.
Transportation has historically been behind when it comes to technology. So, the tech conglomerate is laser-focused on our industry because it’s a big industry and there is plenty of opportunity for automation. That’s where Apex comes in. Our bread-and-butter is automating these processes, whether it’s how you get your invoices in or how you choose to have funds delivered all while speeding up auditing and verifying with the broker that the load is good. That helps keep our clients hauling.
Apex factoring is an excellent way to increase your cash flow while keeping your data protected. Apex provides invaluable tools such as trustworthy credit checks and state-of-the-art technology, so you get secure funding, fast. Visit our website or give us a call at 855-369-2739.