“Culture” has become a buzzword synonymous with impassioned mission statements and quirky office perks. In reality, culture goes far beyond ping pong tables and casual Fridays. When a company defines their culture, they are defining their values. That is why cultural fit is so important when partnerships are formed – companies with polar opposite value systems do not often play well together or share common goals. 

“I think it is important to define culture because I see culture as being intimately tied with strategy,” Trucker Tools CRO Jesse Buckingham said. “You want to be building a company where value is aligned with culture. Sometimes we think of culture as something that exists outside your customer base – something that is solely internal – but culture affects everything.”

Not having a defined culture and value system leaves companies vulnerable and without direction. In these situations, it is easy for them to be swayed by current trends and customer demands without regard for their own ultimate goals.

“Ultimately if you don’t establish and define a culture for yourself, it will be defined for you,” Kingsgate Logistics Senior Vice President of Strategy and Innovation Tom Curee said.  “A culture that is curated without any regard to what you want to accomplish and how you want to position yourself within your own market will leave you with a brand and culture identity crisis.”

Historically, the cultural fit between a brokerage and technology partner has been glossed over in partnership discussions. As these relationships become more collaborative and dynamic, however, the importance of cultural fit is becoming more pronounced.

“Earlier, people used to look at technology providers as vendors, not as partners,” Trucker Tools CEO Prasad Gollapalli said. “Now, they’re looking at them as partners because it enables them to work together toward a common goal.” 

Buckingham encourages brokers to answer two questions when they are going through the process of choosing technology partners:

Is this a business that is going to help the company be ready for the future?

The logistics industry is continually changing. One way companies can invest in solving tomorrow’s problems today is by choosing a technology partner that is already looking forward to the challenges of the future. One way to identify these partners is by taking a close look at each provider’s culture and values. Customer-centric companies that value innovation are more likely to help brokers future-proof their operations than companies specializing in quick fixes for current pain points.

Who are the audiences this company focuses on when designing their products?

Technology providers must define their primary audiences in order to continue delivering valuable services. It is important for brokers to partner with a provider that focuses on companies similar to their own, ensuring their specific challenges remain at the forefront of future product launches. Partnering with companies that focus on other audiences is a recipe for discontentment and drift. Similarly, partnering with companies without a defined audience makes it unlikely that any segment’s needs are being met completely. 

“If you choose a tech partner that is a poor cultural fit, you’re going to experience friction and an erosion of trust with that provider,” Buckingham said. “It means your strategies will not necessarily be aligned. If you are partnering with a tech vendor that isn’t aligned with your strategy, it will eventually get to the point where they aren’t providing what you need anymore.”

Brokers that build compatible partnerships with tech providers are better prepared to weather market shifts and changing consumer demands. They are also better able to meet their own customers’ needs and provide standout service. That is why Kingsgate places a strong emphasis on technology partnerships, according to Curee. 

“Understanding the culture of a potential partner allows you to curtail any potential conflict,” Curee said. “Just as a new employee needs to be able to fit within the culture of the organization, so does a new partner.”