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The Logistics of Logistics Podcast

Mar 25, 2019

TMS Innovation and the Voice of the Customer with Cameron Robertson

Cameron Robertson and Joe Lynch discuss TMS innovation and the voice of the customer.

[00:20] Opening / Introduction.

[00:37] Introduce yourself and your company.

  • I am the Chief Technology Officer of 3PL Systems in Signal Hill, California. We specialize in the development of transportation management software.
  • At the age of thirteen I built my own website and since then I’ve been hyper-focused on learning more about software development.
  • I went to school for computer science in southern California.
  • My first real job was here with 3PL Systems. After I took the job, I fell in love with the industry, the people, and the fact that the technology seemed young.
  • I joined the company as a technical support representative and progressed from there.

[02:40] Please explain the difference between API and EDI before we get into the tech talk.

  • API serves as the interface between software programs. Image a human interacting with a computer. That’s similar to how API works.
  • An EDI is still the most popular form of exchanged information via technology in transportation. It allows the user to pass information based on an action.
  • I see API replacing EDI in the next five to ten years.

[04:20] What is a transportation management system and why should someone invest in one?

  • A TMS is used by shippers, carriers, brokers, and asset-based companies to manage their business.
  • The biggest benefit is that if efficiently allows you to manage all data such as shipments in a centralized location.

[05:25] What are the five new trends that are coming to the TMS business?

  • [05:38] 1. Systems becoming easier to use and configure.
    • Developers are often needed to set up systems, but their time is scarce and expensive.
    • Users should not be dependent on a developer for every last customization or integration.
    • Brokers and 3PLs are much more sophisticated with their knowledge of tech now, so they’re ready to do more.
  • [08:14] 2. Artificial intelligence is coming.
    • AI is ready to impact the industry because we now have computing power, lots of data, and connectivity.
    • It can complete a lot of the mundane tasks such as following up with carriers or dispatching loads in the morning.
    • Some companies are using it on a limited basis, and some of it is just hype.
    • It’s coming soon and it will be disruptive.
  • [10:53] 3. The user experience becoming more intuitive.
    • Some software providers give a big user manual, which is a red flag to me. I would get rid of that software as soon as possible.
    • Inbound logistics users may need to train hundreds of shippers, so it’s important for training and orientation to be quick and easy.
    • If you’re going to have a user manual, it should be built into the software instead of an external text document.
  • [13:31] 4. User group meetings.
    • This means hearing the voice of the customer or user of the software platform.
    • They can provide feedback about the software itself and what they would like to see built, rather than the software company dictating to the customer what needs to be built.
    • Developers need to understand their customers so well that they can deliver next gen solutions before the customers even know it’s possible.
  • [15:40] 5. Becoming even more connected.
    • Today, TMS can pull data via APIs from all types of databases and websites.
    • We’re going to see a tremendous amount of API integration amongst all the software companies that interact with each other in the transportation industry.
    • One of the things I see a lot lately is that the brokers no longer want to have to log into your TMS system. They want to be able to stay in their environment.
    • Not sharing that information is not helping anyone.

[18:59] Tell us about what’s going on at 3PL Systems.

  • Over the years, we have realized that we’ve built a pretty strong product.
  • What we wanted to do for our customers is tear it all down and start over based on the feedback we have gained.
  • We launched that product last year, and we’re able to add new features very quickly. We’re really excited about the future.

Learn More About TMS Innovation and the Voice of the Customer

Cameron Robertson

3PL Systems

The Logistics of Logistics Podcast