Throughout this series of posts, we’ve highlighted specific topics we think you should consider as you explore new trucking software packages/TMS providers. All of the subjects thus far have focused primarily on the present, trying to help you understand exactly what you will be getting from each trucking software provider being considered. Now we are going to explore an area that can be hard to navigate but is extremely important: is your potential TMS provider future proof?
What does “future-proof” mean? Future-proof is the process of anticipating the future and developing methods of minimizing the effects of shocks and stresses of future events.
Each TMS providers’ plans for their future will definitely impact your company’s future. You need to consider how each trucking software package potentially meets your current needs, but also analyze how a TMS provider plans to address your future needs as well.
Several times through this series we have discussed rapid innovative changes that are occurring in the trucking software and technology spaces. The vision and strategies of each trucking software provider are going to directly impact your ability to react, compete and grow, both now and in the future. If you select the right partner, your next TMS package could very well be your last. It’s simply not an efficient investment of time, or money if you need to repeat this process every three to six years.
Future-Proof: Strategy and Innovation
Investigate each TMS providers’ strategy and plan for the future by asking the following questions to see what direction the provider leads you in:
- What is their vision for the transportation industry and technology over the next 5, 10, 20 years?
- What is the vision of their trucking software solution during that same time period?
- How do they plan to adapt with, and incorporate new technologies?
- What is their mission and overall growth strategy?
- Which specific markets are they focusing on?
- Every company is looking for new customers, but if you are an LTL Carrier and the TMS you are considering is focused on truckload, then that may not be an ideal fit.
Additionally, it’s important to inquire about the kinds of new technologies the provider is examining for future consideration. For instance, how do they plan to adapt when autonomous trucks come online? Or how do they anticipated incorporating Augmented Reality (AR) within their applications?
Likewise, it’s extremely beneficial to spend some time familiarizing yourself with emerging technologies so that you can develop your own vision for how they could impact your business in the future. To give you a head start, we suggest exploring the following technologies:
- Autonomous Driverless trucks
- Wearable Augmented Reality
- Truck Platooning
- Web APIs
- The internet of things (IoT)
- The cloud
Now that you have an understanding of each potential partners’ strategy for the future in regards to technology let’s progress to their internal structure.
Future-Proof: Ownership Structure
Explore who owns the TMS provider:
- Are they privately owned?
- If they are a privately owned family business, what is the succession plan for the long-haul?
- Are they owned by a parent company or group (For example, a publicly traded business or venture capital firm)?
- If the provider is a part of a company’s portfolio, what kind of future will that create?
With respect to ownership, you need to examine if the company you are considering owns other technologies developed for the transportation industry. This could affect the choices you have with regard to technology integrations down the road.
Future-Proof: Growth Model
Does the TMS provider embrace technology partners or are they focused on being a one-stop-shop for their customers? Many trucking software companies want to be the only provider for all your transportation technology needs. The idea sounds convenient, and works great for some carriers, as it is definitely easier.
However, for many carriers, the freedom to choose your own technology partners is more important than convenience. Your company’s priorities will help dictate which circumstance is more valuable: one-stop shopping or the freedom to pick and choose the technologies that will work best for you. You also need to consider how the TMS providers’ corporate affiliations could affect their role as your transportation technology explorer/educator/advisor; will they truly be able to steer you towards the best solutions for your company, or will they push you to use more of their services (or partner services)?
The key to developing a future-proof partnership, where strategies and plans align, is transparency and honest communication. This includes understanding all existing affiliations and partnerships.
Once this information is gathered and the rubber meets the road, it’s ultimately up to you. We hope this series of posts was valuable in helping you gather critical feedback from your list of potential TMS providers.
During your exploration of trucking software packages/providers, we hope you take the time to consider our transportation management software, services, solutions and partnership.
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