Originally published in Airforwarders Magazine, Summer 2017
By Dave Hockersmith, CEO – Trans-Soft and Amanda Bohl, President – Supply Vision
It’s a challenge all of us in the transportation industry face: how to keep up with the incredible shipping demand growth, while working efficiently in the warehouse and on the road, and to do it all while generating margins that guarantee impressive bottom line results.
We’ve learned it is virtually impossible to compete effectively without cutting-edge technology to generate maximum operational efficiencies. We’ve seen shippers and providers who are still married to paper and manual processes and early adopters who invest in the newest software innovations the industry offers. Regardless of where your company is on that spectrum, it’s indisputable that the pace of technology innovation continues to accelerate and companies that don’t invest in technology simply will be at a severe disadvantage.
Change is Good
There has been incredible change in transportation technology over the last three to five years and an important cultural shift taking place in how this industry makes commerce happen. It’s more than just moving cargo from point A to point B. Today’s successful transportation companies realize they are selling time (a highly disposable commodity), and rely on logistics data, delivered in real time, to build their customer base.
Cloud-based systems, or Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, are the next generation of TMS technology. By putting the essential elements freight forwarders, truck brokers, logistics service providers and third party logistics companies need at their fingertips, the industry is becoming more efficient. Smart software provides critical integrations in a mobile-friendly format, which means rating, shipping, routing and tracking can be done virtually anywhere, on any device.
Making the Case for the Cloud
There are multiple reasons to switch to cloud-based/SaaS TMS software, and they’re all good for growing your business. Consider these benefits:
1. Cost. When software is sold as a service, not as a product, you win. Initial investment and monthly fees are significantly reduced with a switch to SaaS/cloud software.
2. Focus. A cloud-based system allows you to stay focused on your business, not server and application management. Hardware, infrastructure or maintenance fees become obsolete, another cost savings. As your business grows, your TMS software adapts and grows with you, without significant additional investments in IT resources and staff.
3. Flexibility/Scalability. Implementations are quick and easy, and new feature upgrades are seamless. The processes for adding or removing operators and customers as the business goes into peak times or as demand grows year over year are streamlined in the cloud. It is also easier (and more cost-effective) to add or upgrade services as needed or to customize requests based on your customers’ needs.
4. Visibility. Everyone has access to the same information, in real time, eliminating potentially costly communication breakdowns and improving efficiency.
5. Accessibility and Collaboration. The ability to work anywhere, on any device. Enough said.
But is it Safe?
Your data is the lifeline of your business, so it is important to select the option that best suits your budget and mitigates the most risk. Sorting through the various software options available can be confusing and the question of data security in the cloud is often asked.
An important factor to consider involves the choice of a multi- or single-tenant solution:
1. Multi-Tenant architecture means one software system serves multiple clients, potentially delivering lower cloud expenditures. All clients’ data resides on one database that is partitioned to keep companies’ data separate. Feature and system change requests may be more limited since they affect the entire platform.
2. Single-Tenant design hosts each client on an independent database and infrastructure, providing ultimate separation of data. This infrastructure typically lends itself to a wider range of customization options.
It’s best to review all the options to determine what best suits your specific needs with any software provider. Data in the cloud is tokenized for protection, and when considering moving to a cloud-based TMS, also consider what backup options your software of choice provides. Cloud environments should be designed specifically to host your data on secure servers and protect your business against threats.
The pace of the industry’s technology evolution will only get faster, providing even greater challenges to small- to mid-sized transportation firms. Clients are using the newest innovations and being an early adopter and easy to work with will be an important differentiator.
The software industry has learned there is strength in technology partnerships. Partnering with other technologists is a trend we expect to continue to grow, giving you the ability to sell a complete package of services to your customers. Collaborating with automated focused offerings such as 7L Freight’s rate management solutions and Project44’s API services allow each provider to focus on their core competencies. No longer does one software shop need to develop all parts when there are product specific experts.
Cloud-based technology is here to stay. E-commerce trends show every indication that goods will continue to be moved at record volumes well into the future, and as shipping volumes continue to grow technology will provide the more efficient workflows your business needs to be a pacesetter.
Today, and in the future, customers will not accept anything less than the best communication tools. Don’t lose ground. Make the technology investments needed to show them you’ve got what it takes to build their business, and yours.
Learn more about how to stay in front of what your customers want. Register for a demo today.