You pick up the load. You travel the highways of North America to deliver it to some business or organization awaiting its arrival. Your customer wants to know when it is going to arrive. The consignee wants to know when it’s going to arrive. And above all, your Dispatcher wants to know when “it’s going to arrive?”
You see, you are tied to a chain of interlocking pieces – of people, equipment and processes that comprises a ‘supply chain.’ A supply chain that ensures that businesses get products to the customers when they want them, where they want them, in good conditions…and on time – just in time.
Sometimes, I think we are all connected along one big rope, holding onto to it at various points with some spots taught with tension, while others have slack, the rope falling to the ground.
The concept of “Just –in- Time” logistics is tied to the Total Quality movement that looks at removing any excess waste – materials, time – from a supply chain. The idea being that rather than having raw materials and good services being stored and warehoused in vast quantities, you should keep all the materials and goods in constant motion. It’s as simple as having your boxes of Tide rolling on trains, a moving warehouse, rather than sitting on pallets in some distribution center.
Now this takes vast amounts of coordination, investment in capital, and training of people, but over the years, we as a society have refined it and continue to refine the concept in an increasingly globalized world. Excelling at it has meant all sorts of wealth for our society.
The concept of “Just in Time” provisioning of products may have started in these supply chains, but has now moved on to become the modus operandi of the technology world. It found traction in the CRM software world through Salesforce, and has now moved on to virtually all segments of the software industry.
As such, the challenge for those companies who provide trucking software and freight brokerage software was to find a way to provide applications and services to businesses on a “just in time” basis –being more flexible to the ways customers wanted to access the application, and most significantly, pay for it in a way that works for the business and its cash flows.
And it wasn’t just an issue of how technology companies provided the application itself, but to how the company delivered its services – often to businesses that are dispersed, with multiple locations and ever changing circumstances.
For many technology companies in the trucking and freight management industry, this presented a unique challenge because it forced upon them a great degree of change– technically, financially, and above all, culturally. It required a change in mindset and the way they thought about the customer.
It was forced upon them by customers who were becoming increasingly ‘subscription centric’ (think Netflix) living in a now “app –ified” world (think App Store or Google Play). What they were experiencing in the lives as consumers was now being translated into their demands of the business world.
It meant that customers, especially small to medium sized customers, looking for trucking software or freight brokerage software, were asking their client server technology providers why they had to make large capital investments in technology up front with no assurances that it would work in the business.
They were asking questions on why they were disproportionately bearing the risk of success of the solution.
Further, in trying to build up their business, they wondered how this tied into their cash flow and gave consideration to all the other things they had to spend money on – staff, equipment, offices, etc.
They also wondered about the services tied to the application. Why the old model was built primarily around the original installation – where the providers’ staff came out, did the install, and went away – a ‘one-and-done’ approach to business before they moved onto find the next customer. The customer was left too often to figure it out themselves with little or no resources to help them.
Trucking software companies had to adjust, and to this day they are adjusting their applications and services to this new reality. Working hard in providing their applications in a manner and scale relevant to a trucking business, giving them adequate time to find the right fit, and tying its payment schedule into the financial arc of the customers’ business.
It changed the model in the trucking software industry from
SOFTWARE as a service
SOFTWARE as a SERVICE.
More than ever, it means that as a trucking software technology provider, you becomes more of a ‘partner in success,’ rather than a simple purveyor of code.
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