How Digital Platforms Are Driving a New Era in Transportation

This Article originally appeared in Logistics Brief, by Adrian Gonzalez.

The pace of change in technology continues to accelerate as technology continues to accelerate as technology plays a greater role across all industries. This is driving a new era in transportation. So how is technology transforming the transportation and logistics industry? How is real-time freight visibility delivering business value? How do you drive adoption?

Those are some of the key questions I discussed with Mike Riccio, Chief Marketing Officer at Leonard’s Express, and Prasad Gollapalli, Founder and CEO of Trucker Tools, during a Trucker Tools, during a recent episode of Talking Logistics.

How Technology is Changing Transportation

Leonard’s Express is a family-owned asset and non-asset-based transportation provider headquartered in upstate New York, with offices around the U.S. They predominantly haul grocery and food related products.

I began our discussion by asking Mike how technology is changing transportation is changing transportation today. Mike says that, “Technology has changed the game. It used to be an uninformed market where shippers dealt with brokers and brokers dealt with the carriers. Now everyone wants visibility and traceability to their loads all of the time and technology is enabling that. The data is now there for shippers to make better decisions and for carriers to run their business better.”

Digital Platforms as Enablers

I next asked Prasad how digital platforms are enabling the change Mike mentioned. Prasad points out that we are in an era of data transformation as much as an era of technology transformation. “Customers want to know: Was my shipment picked up on time? Where is it in transit? Will it arrive on time, and if not, when can I expect it? What factors could impact that? So data is the key.” says Prasad. “What technology does is take tremendous amounts of data and crunch it down into useful information. It allows customers to focus on what’s important.”

Meeting Customer Expectations

Mike explains that meeting customer expectations has changed. “We still do the blocking and tackling of matching loads to carriers, but now customers want to know every hour or couple of hours where their load is and what its status is. It has been a learning curve for our employees to understand this heightened level of customer expectations.”

“Before, if a customer called asking about their load, our dispatcher would tell them based on our expectations of where it should be, but we really weren’t sure.” continues Mike. “Now we can access the data and know for sure where it is. That is the value proposition for us – confirming the accuracy of the data.”

Driving Adoption

Mike says the first thing they did before rolling out the Trucker Tools solution was ask Prasad how many of Leonard’s Express top 20 carriers, which carry the majority of their freight, were already using the Trucker Tools app. Mike said when they found out that 92% were already using it, they decided to roll it out to all carriers immediately. “We worked with the smaller carriers to explain the value, but there wasn’t much resistance. Now that we’ve had it up for a while, we tell all carriers they have to use the app so we can track and trace the loads.”

Prasad adds that one of the factors that helps to drive adoption is that the app has functionality that brings value to the drivers as well, so they are more interested in using it.

The Right Fit

I asked Mike how they decided that the Trucker Tools app was the right fit for Leonard’s Express. Mike comments that although price is always a factor, they are big on cultural fit. He notes that Prasad and his team took the time to really understand their business and their needs and showed them how the app could help. He was also pleased with Trucker Tools’ customer service team. They were very responsive and helpful in getting the solution to work with their TMS.

Mike also says, “As soon as we plugged in the Smart Capacity tool, carriers were contacting us on loads we haven’t even posted yet. That proved the value for us. So, for us it was about the cultural fit and the value the Smart Capacity tool drove.”

Prasad adds that it is important to understand that the rollout is not “one and done” because every customer is different. “You have to understand their business and demonstrate to both the customer and the carriers the value the tool has for them.” he says. Prasad had many more insights on what contributes to successful implementations, and he and Mike discussed lessons learned and the most important factors for customers and vendors in successful rollouts. I encourage you to watch the full video for all of their insights and advice. Then keep the conversation going by posting your own experiences.