One of the most successful areas of cloud computing is in the area of transportation management systems (TMS). Shippers and third party logistics providers (3PL’s) have fallen in love with cloud based applications. Companies such as Descartes, Mercury Gate, Lean Logistics and C. H. Robinson with their Managed TMS product are the industry leaders in cloud based transportation management systems.
Why so much interest? The very nature of a TMS application makes it a good candidate for cloud computing. TMS systems require electronic connections via flat file, xml or EDI to exchange information with carriers and customers. Having established links with carriers and having expertise in this area is an attractive feature for small and medium size companies that don’t have the resources or the technical expertise to electronically connect themselves. In addition, most cloud based TMS providers have relationships already established so it takes less time to setup, test and implement. They also have established relationships with vendors such as SMC3 for LTL rating and time in transit information. Most providers also have links to Carrier Watch from a DAT for insurance and accident information and links to mileage providers such as PC Miler and Rand McNally. In addition, must cloud providers have interfaced with different accounting and imaging systems.
The other area that is attractive to shippers and 3PL’s is a robust infrastructure that is supported by the vendor. When evaluating cloud based providers, the datacenter, network and support team is critical. Many small and medium size players do not have the funds to build a robust infrastructure nor do they have the information technology staff. Optional features may include a robust disaster recovery option with failover capability. Historically, small and medium size companies could not spend the funds on a robust computing environment. Medium and large players may elect to set up a private cloud arrangement with their provider where their data is segregated from other customers.
Cloud based TMS’s offer the opportunity to realize more features and functionality in a timely manner. Historically, when the shipper or 3Pl hosted the application, the vendor’s software would have to be downloaded, applied to a test environment, tested and upgraded to production. In a cloud environment, the shipper or 3Pl has the option to apply upgrades, test and implement. In addition, new features and functionality are released by the vendor on a predetermine time table every 6 to 8 weeks which result in more functionality and improvements in less time.
Small and medium size players can take advantage of hundreds of canned reports that the vendor has written to provide meaningful information to manage the business. In addition, the storing of data can result in mid-size players having access to big-data and having the necessary tools to be able to mine the data to improve relationships with customers and improve their bottom line.
Logistics Trends can help your firm if you are thinking of implementing a cloud based transportation management solution. We have over 32 years in the transportation and logistics industry. We can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 770 639-2230.