Brad Forester and podcast host Joe Lynch discuss FreightTech reality check, freight market update, impact of AI/ML, logistics technology implementation & post implementation, and a variety of other topic related to logistics technology on this episode of The Logistics of Logistics podcast.
- Continuous system improvement and management are vital even after the logistic systems are implemented.
- Proper implementation, selection, and maintenance of logistics technology can significantly impact the effectiveness of shippers' operations.
- Shippers often use only a fraction of their TMS capabilities; thus, ongoing training and updates can help leverage the system more fully.
- Cloud-based logistic systems have made frequent updates necessary, requiring consistent oversight and adaption from the users.
- Major system updates can sometimes disrupt business processes, suggesting a need for a strategic approach to technology management.
- The high frequency of TMS updates by vendors requires shippers to engage in continuous testing and feature adoption.
- Collaboration with consulting services helps large shippers to navigate complex industry environments and technological advancements.
- If you enjoy this podcast, please leave a positive review, subscribe, and share it with your friends and colleagues.
Here is the full unedited transcript:
Joe Lynch 00:00
Hello, friends, welcome to the logistics of logistics podcast. My name is Joe Lynch, thank you so much for joining us today. On the logistics of logistics, I talked to experts in logistics and transportation, warehousing, fulfillment, supply chain and of course technology. And during these interviews, I'm always the one to ask him the dumb questions. I ask the dumb questions so you don't have to.
Today's topic is freight tech reality check with my friend Brad Forester. Brad is the founder of JBF Consulting at JBF, Brad and his team helped the largest shippers in the world, select and implement freight tech solutions. Brad truly understands the freight tech space, what's working and what's not working. So if you're interested in the free tech space, please stick around for my conversation with Brad Forester.
How's it going Brad?
Brad Forester 01:37
It's going great. Joe, good to be here. Good to talk to you again. It's been a few months. But yeah, we're excited be here.
Joe Lynch 01:44
Yeah, we were just before we hit record, we're gasping and catching up. I don't think I've talked to you in a while but always great to have you on my podcast. So Brad, please introduce yourself and your company and where you're calling from today.
Brad Forester 01:54
Sure. I'm calling from just outside New Haven, Connecticut. So right in between Boston and New York City. I am the founder and CEO of JBF consulting and we've been around for for 20 years. And we help shippers with the strategy selection, implementation and maintenance of logistics technology. So things like transportation systems, fleet systems, visibility, system, parcel, etc. Right. So it's a big and expanding space with a lot of exciting new technology and new developments all the time, as is common with technology.
I am originally from Columbus, Ohio, I went to Michigan State I got a degree in logistics from Michigan State. Go Green! And I have spent time as the shipper, I have spent time on the carrier side working for roadway package system RPF. Now FedEx Ground and also spent several years as the software consultant, Implementation Consultant with a couple of software company man, you just stick them to GT Nexus. Very nice. And soon after that started JBF. And here we are talking.
Joe Lynch 03:09
I've had you on my podcast before. And I've also talked to Mike Mulqueen, from your company, and you guys work with I don't think I'm exaggerating this. You work with the largest shippers? Am I right to say that?
Brad Forester 03:24
Yeah, we definitely skew towards very large shippers, our sweet spot is anywhere from 250 million of freight spend to over a billion or more. These are complex shippers with complex requirements and difficult networks and lots of subsidiaries and brands. And these create a lot of challenges for technology for implementation. So we go where the challenges are.
Joe Lynch 03:53
So when I think of shippers, there's the smallest shippers, there's the largest shippers and there's as you mentioned, there's all different levels of complexity everywhere. The smaller shippers say I don't need a TMS so they're not going to buy a TMS they might work with a three PL that has a TMS as soon as you become a certain size, you might say we need our own TMS I'm not going to use my outside three PL or by broker my carrier. And the reason I'm not going to is because then they own me they have they all my technology at that point. Very true. But the biggest guys, the real big guys that were talking about they long ago decided we have to have our own technology solutions. And they might have this is some of the conversation we've had in the past. They might have decided 30 years ago to buy technology.
Brad Forester 04:48
That's actually a very common kind of transition point for us is where we see small shippers that grew grew too big and now outsource to a three PL for a period of time, maybe 10 years or so. And during that time they continue to scale their business, sell more products, open up new DCS, sell into more customers or more retailers, and then all of a sudden, they have a very large network. They have no data, no access to information outside of what the three PL partner gives them. And then there's an inflection point and a decision is made sometimes to say, Okay, do we reinvest in this three PL relationship and continue to expand?
Or do we pull these capabilities in hell? And we work with a number of shippers today to help make those decisions right? Should we pull operation and the technology back in house from the three PL should we pull just the technology so that we can get access to the data in our three PL uses our technology that we own.
So there's a bunch of different tactics and strategies there. But it's really around just listening to the client and what their objectives are, and helping them figure out what the options in the best path forward should be?
Joe Lynch 06:06
Yeah, and you guys again, don't engage you're not selling freight services, you are selling consulting services to help select the right technology for what all not just TMS, that's, that'd be the easy part. You help them select that technology, implement that technology, and we'll get to it in a minute. Also make sure they're getting the most out of it. Because as we all know, it's really easy to implement technology, and then forget about it. And maybe you're only using two thirds of the capabilities. But this is where I think we talked about last time you're on the podcast is if you were a big ship or lambda and let's just say fortune 500 are near, you were probably a very early adopter of transportation technologies, right?
And those might have been systems that they weren't in the cloud, right? Because there was no cloud when they've got there. There was no cloud. And some of those companies got acquired. And when they got acquired, I'm sure that the new technology company said don't worry, we'll keep supporting your old, clunky server based system.
And at some point, they said, No, we're not going to you we're moving into the cloud. And the problem with those transitions, am I wrong to say this? I don't think so. They might do millions of shipments or orders or whatever you're doing per year, so and they might have 10s of millions of records that have to somehow move to the cloud, which which might take, which could take over and get all that stuff up there.
Brad Forester 07:47
It may just take over an hour, Joe, you're right. Yeah, it's sometimes it's just heavy lift. It's just labor, we need to get this stuff done. This is what they don't tell you in the software, vendor PowerPoint that you listen to is that at the end of the day, sometimes it's just about labor and moving data and transforming data and cleaning data. When you look at the implementation practice, as a whole, it's a lot of unsexy work. But that's where the payoff has been good data.
Joe Lynch 08:18
Yeah. And you know, what this reminds me of bread is, let's just say 20 years ago, and you said, Hey, I made some bucks, and I'm going to reward myself. So on Saturdays and Sundays, I can watch all the games, I'm buying myself a huge TV console. And it's going to be I'm gonna get one of those top of the line TVs, you could pay 20 grand for it, right? And then if your friends were over here in 220 23, they're like, Dude, why do you have this old clunky TV? And you're like, I paid 20 grand for that. 2004. And that's the same thing we have with our technology sometimes is I bought something and I'm using it and all my records are in it. We are trained on it. I have 60 locations that are using it. But I know there's a brand new TV at Costco that I could have gotten for $1,000 is way, way better than this one.
Brad Forester 09:15
You're absolutely right, Joe, and you actually, you triggered a funny thought for me when you were talking about kind of the genesis of technology and there was no cloud. I think you could actually argue that if I look at Manugistic software from a TMS perspective, I spent five years at manual mystics and in a couple roles, but before it was Manugistic it was this company called FPsc.
If I'm not, hopefully I'm getting this correct. And it was like statistical time sharing because back in the 80s, the supply chain software was run on these big behemoth mainframe system, and they would actually share timeshare to companies to solve problems and needs blackbox optimization that were centrally managed in thumb fashion, you could say that with the early stages of cloud, where there was essentially a timeshare for solving optimization problems and its central location on behalf of multiple clients.
But obviously a lot, a significant amount has changed since then. And we've gone from independent mainframes deployed at the client site with green screens to client server two and tier two.
Now, here we are with micro services, and everything is cloud. And with the AI and machine learning capabilities in the future, what what all of those things mean? Right? So there's definitely a lot of change in the past, let's say 30 years. And it's hard for companies to keep up with this when they're focused on their operation, then their people and their customers, right. So that's why we're here. Yeah.
Joe Lynch 11:01
And this boy, it just would also, by the way, I worked in automotive and automotive was an early adopter of all the technologies and unless and until they weren't, yeah, one of the things I remember working on projects, and some you'd always get some new IT consultants would come in, I was a consultant to, and they would say, Oh, we got they're using this old mainframe, blah, blah, blah. And I was like, yep. And we get, we're going to upgrade them. I'm like, You got a billion dollars. And then when I say what I say, it's billions of dollars to upgrade, that's why it hasn't happened. It's not that they don't have money. It's like you're tearing the whole company down to do it.
And I think this is the challenge I think a lot of companies have seen is, we will make a move when we absolutely, positively have to. And we and there's what's so crazy about it is again, these were the early adopters, people were very smart, knew what they were doing selected the very best system that day that year. And now here they are 30 years later, probably calling Brad and Mike and the rest of the guys at JBF. And saying, We haven't picked the technology for this in 30 years. Those guys long retired. What do we need now?
Brad Forester 12:13
Right? Yeah, that's a fun challenge. But you're not wrong. And that's a very common inflection point, there are a number of triggers that we see that are very common, it could be your legacy software vendor gets acquired, or they go out of business, or those are very common triggers. They Okay, it's time for us to figure out what's in the market, what's changed, let's go create a strategy and got RFP, right. That's the common playbook. It could also be organic growth. That's a trigger.
Like we were talking about normal scaling and outgrowing your income and 3PL relationship or wanting to continue to scale your business operations without adding headcount. There's a lot of very common triggers. But more and more these days, it is clear that technology is a key driver and a key enabler to a lot of the goals and objectives that our clients and these large shipper companies have. They're going to get realized through the proper implementation of the tech.
Joe Lynch 13:18
30 years ago, 25 years ago, if you were buying brand new technology for a large shipper, again, fortune 500 company, maybe even it wasn't a strategic decision, then it was important, but usually the top guy didn't even understand how his computer worked. And, and the challenge I think you mentioned going out for RFP, you can't make a bad decision. When you're that big. You can't say oh, we implemented this. And it took us two years and it sucked. We spent a ton of money. And we really should have picked something else.
You have to make the right decision, which is why people hire your company because you're picking these new technologies all the time. You're always evaluating the new ones. They're like last time we did it was 25 years ago when we want our current system. And that's when we have Gartner that's where we have not just Brad Forester but also Forester the the technology research. Because people don't do this. No relation. No relation. Yeah, people don't do that every year. And you do. That's the challenge. And it's a big decision.
Brad Forester 14:21
It is because just 25 years ago, 30 years ago, there were probably three options, right to Ford Model T you can choose black, right, but
Joe Lynch 14:30
Any color you want.
Brad Forester 14:32
Any color you want, as long as it's black. There were really probably three or four options in the market 25 years ago and now there's hundreds, literally hundreds of transportation technology vendors.
Joe Lynch 14:44
So today I want to talk to you about FreightTech reality check. And the red before we hit record we are talking about some of you are giving me a reality check. You're pretty close to all the market. I talked to people but I don't really to get the skinny on everything, and you talked about a lot of churn with the freight tech space, some of that would be driven by just what we talked about. But what's some other drivers of that churn?
Brad Forester 15:11
Yeah, so there's been no shortage. And it's widely reported that there was a huge investment of private equity and venture money, post COVID, especially around supply chain technology. So through that big, let's say injection of capital, into the tech providers, some are going to stick in some are not right. So I think we're seeing the combination.
And the reality that those that are performing and can turn a profit and can gain market share are the ones that are going to be sticking around. But the ones that have maybe misappropriated or burned too much cash too quickly, or grew sales before they can grow the product and the client base. They're suffering, right, but there's still pockets of investment. But the end result of that is just in the past three years show, we've seen probably 100 or more new companies directly in the logistics, technology space.
For shippers, when you look at yard management, real time tracking and visibility, Legacy transportation management, system, fleet routing, and scheduling dispatch, there's been new entrants focusing on specific slices of the market problem dealing with particular industry verticals. So this proliferation of all these new logistics technology vendors has created a lot of uncertainty and confusion in the market, it is made a what used to be 25 years ago, pick one of the three vendors to decision into. We've got 300. And I will also say that because of I think some of it is because of but the ease of integration, and I think he's relatively speaking from 25 years ago, most of our clients, in fact, I would say, probably over 90% of our clients, when we're implementing, they have two or more logistics technology vendors creating their solution.
There is no silver bullet single vendor that can do it all in in the way that we're seeing clients to purchase and implement this technology. So we're seeing a highly specialized set of software vendors with a lot of new capital influx in the market from a few years ago. And that's just creating a tremendous opportunity, I think, to simplify to categorize these vendors, let's do a little bit more research on what makes our business tick so that we can help clients pick the right technology for them. So yeah, the technology curve has just really blossomed and taken off in the past few years, and that has been fueled by money.
Joe Lynch 18:02
And everybody took VC money, for the most part, aren't there? Those are homerun hitters. Right? That's what they're trying for. Nobody's saying, I took a whole bunch of VC money, and I hope to grow at eight or 10% per year. And usually you take that VC money because you say, it's a brand new space. And we want to get there first we want to get the market share. We and somebody says can you prove you know, that total addressable markets there. And there's no perfect information on that. So these are, by their very nature, when so he takes a lot of VC money.
It's Reggie Jackson getting up to the plate, he's gonna hit a home run, or he's gonna strike out there is not nobody hires Reggie Jackson to get singles, or anything at this age. But that's some of the challenge we have. And I think we saw so much investment in the space. And again, it's, it's another thing it's done is it's raised expectations in my mind, because you see some of this, Oh, I'm getting a glimpse of the future with some of this new tech.
But we also know just look around your life. That's so long ago, if you had the coolest phone on the block, it was a Blackberry, who's got a Blackberry who's listening to my podcast right now. It's like, your grandpa might have one in a drawer at his house. It's so a lot of times the tech leaders, they identify the opportunity and they jump into a space and then somebody follows on.
So again, it's that VC money there. There's an expectation that we're going to get some winners, but we're also getting get some losers, but even the losers up the whole industry's game, because we go Oh, is that possible?
Brad Forester 19:43
Yeah, it does. Yeah. Small shift can make a big ripples in the market for sure.
Joe Lynch 19:50
Yep. So that churn is a part of that churn. And I want to talk to you about this one is artificial intelligence, and machine learning. which you told me before we hit record, that you hear about it every day and everybody's concerned or thinking, hey, that's it. I'm gonna like go half my staff because I've got this cool new AI. Bring it over, Brad, let's get started. So give us a reality check on that bread.
Brad Forester 20:18
So I find myself perpetually in that Gartner quadrant. I think they call it the trough of dilute disillusionment. Right? This is where I live, right? Because I see, okay, you want to do blockchain? All right? It requires good data, good clean data, you got to do the work. Okay, you want AI? Okay, you need good clean data to do this stuff. So we're a little bit more pragmatic, maybe borderline skeptical on some of the technology advancements, because honestly, Joe, like most of our implementation, today are still dealing with EDI.
And we see clients struggle with EDI still today, right? Because it's data driven, you're reliant on a partner. To provide you with data, it is difficult to put controls on suppliers and partners. from a data standpoint, you can use some tactics, carrot and stick and things like that. But at the end of the day, the data transfer between companies the challenging and AI, in my perspective, can give some, I think there are some pockets of potential, specifically around better optimization approaches for our clients that the larger shippers are the ones that have more complex, higher volume networks, shifting away from like a deterministic optimization where essentially solving a problem through pick lowest cost, right, what's my lowest cost way to get from Chicago to the Walmart distribution center in whereever, Los Angeles, versus probabilistic based on weather based on traffic pattern based on carriers past performance, pick lowest risk.
So I think there's some interesting use cases that are being played with with with artificial intelligence, and some machine learning tactics. They are different, even though many times they're used in conjunction, but they're different. But there are some pocket like that probabilistic optimization, that could get some legs, that would be relatively beneficial, I would say to the broader market.
We also see pockets of potential with user interaction. Right? So a lot of the recent chatter and news traffic is it's been around like chat GPT generative AI, and a lot of that has put the focus on if we could just ask our systems question it using natural language and get a response. Man, that would be a game changer, I think for a lot of organizations, just to put it bluntly, and just as simple as how much time we spend, even as a technology skewed consulting firm, just looking for data. Where's that document? Where do I put it? Is it on teams? Is it on SharePoint? Is it on OneDrive? And then it might email? I don't know.
But if I had just one place to ask somebody a question like an AI bot, that would be great. And I suspect that our clients are thinking about similar use cases, to get around the clunkiness of legacy UI, because there's still a long way to go from a UX perspective with most of the logistics technology. And if we could just ask a chatbot natural language question, what loads do I have that are at risk with the hurricane, and it tells you which loads are in danger. And there's some good use cases there for some of those that more generative AI technology to today?
Joe Lynch 24:02
Yeah, I want to take a quick timeout to tell you, you can now listen to the logistics of logistics on Wreaths Across America Radio, I'll put a link in the show notes. Wreaths Across America provides informational, inspiring content about members, the US armed forces, their families and military veterans. Their mission is to remember, honor and teach Wreaths Across America succeeds because of the generous support of the trucking community. Take a listen and please consider volunteering.
So getting back to it I've always said this on my podcast is and it's just an observation and I think it's probably I'm not the only one making this observation is technology tends to go slow and then all of a sudden really fast. And I remember being at work is gonna age date me, but I don't care. I was at a meeting at work and I said, I went to the U of M football game over the weekend. So my beloved, sorry to hear that. And I came into Meeting it says, oh, yeah, it was there. And then guy that's this before meeting started said, Did you see all the kids college kids with phones? And I said, yeah, there was a ton of kids with mobile phones. Somebody said, for what? And I said, I have no idea. They all have important stuff going on, and sent me why in the world would a college kid need a mobile phone? And one of the guys in their meetings, that same thing is my college kids have mobile phones, all four. And we're all like, you have four kids in college. I feel bad for him.
All right. But we're, we were laughing out loud, there was nothing so stupid as someone who had four mobile phones for his kid. And he said, My wife likes the idea that they have mobile phones in the car. So they're safe. Six months later, my two teenage daughters who were in junior high school in high school, got mobile phones. And I think to myself as it went from ludicrous, to much everybody needed a mobile phone in six months.
And I think about the same thing with AI. You mentioned first, the dirty data. I still say this, he talked to transportation management people, they'll say, Oh, you want that report, it'll run, we can run that automatically. And they will always tell me that the problem is, the data in the system isn't good enough to run that report. So somebody has to go in and tweak 100 fields, and then you can run that report is that objective? They're not really.
And I just got a phone call not so long ago, somebody said, Hey, I need help. There's a very large company, and they are delivering to the biggest retailers in the world. We all know their names. And he said, and they aren't getting paid for their stuff, because they are getting the proof of delivery. I said, Wait, they're delivering $80,000 worth of stuff, a whole truckload. And they don't have a proof of delivery, so they can't invoice.
Now that's so the people delivering those are fortune 500 companies selling to Fortune 500 companies who can't get a proof of delivery. And it cost them millions of dollars per year. So when somebody tells me, we're going to do this, do that. I always think Just could you get the proof of delivery? And can we get clean data in whatever system we're using? Could we have actual clean data in there?
Brad Forester 27:29
Yeah, in your analogy with the report, right, you can run the report, but you're not going to get anything out of it. Because maybe the data is all wrong, or it's bad, is actually a very small microcosm of what clients I believe struggle with in their TMS implementations, right. And it's not necessarily bad data driven.
But implementation is different. It is a single moment in time, right? It starts and it ends, right. So it's a project. But at the end of the project, there's no necessary payoff, there doesn't have to be a return on investment from the successful completion of that implementation project does not mean that you have started to generate a return on that investment.
It is that in a nutshell, that has led us to develop a new playbook, a new set of tactics and strategies for clients to do, post go live post implementation, what we call day zero, right?
Because it's very different to the analogy I like to use is when my wife and I had our first child, there's you go through the pregnancy period. And that is essentially your implementation, right?
You're you're bringing in a new life to the world. That's your implementation.
And then what do you do the day you bring the baby home? That's a totally different playbook. It is a totally different set of tactics. It turns your life upside down. If you're not prepared for that. It's going to be chaos. Right?
So this is essentially what we see our clients facing when they go live. There is no ROI. How do we get that? How can we instill a continuous improvement philosophy with clients that don't necessarily know the inner workings of the application? They're not necessarily software and product people. These are operations and logistics professionals in that the challenge so it requires different playbooks to get more mileage in the value attainment. And the value realization from those implementations requires different thinking different skill than a different set of tasks.
Joe Lynch 29:34
I love your pregnancy analogy, and I will say, I've been on implementations technology implementations and I always feel like you select a technology and a vendor, right? And now we implement it and it always is a long, painful process longer than you wanted more money than you wanted to spend more resources being and then you finally launch it and you go oh, Dude, I just want to take a victory.
I want to say I'm taking the day off we launched last week. And I get that. And I'm not even saying you shouldn't do that. But then if somebody who a year ago said, What is the ROI on that was to call and say, Hey, Joe, Brad, I see you launch, what's the ROI on the new software? And we're like, Oh, if that's that, that was a PowerPoint from last year. And you go, exactly. And the problem is, we might be only using like, wrong to say this 60% of the software, and we're ready to that we're ready to get back to our day job, we don't care anymore.
Brad Forester 30:38
60% is very generous Joe, we have many clients that implement a fraction, a very small fraction of the capabilities of the tool that they've bought, which in some cases is warranted, right, because maybe it's part of their growth curve, or their scale where they have something that's just very complex. And this slice of software feature function can solve that problem better than anybody else can. And the rest is just overhead.
But in some cases, they've overbought, they've read the Magic Quadrant, they pick the top three in the leaders quadrant. And they go with that, and the RFP, not thinking about, I just bought a million dollar system that has all this bloat, of features and functions that I never intend to activate, I never intend to implement, and I'm paying for them. And they may not realize it, but they are paying maintenance on that stuff. And some of those dollars go to features that they'll never use.
We try to be pragmatic with our clients and tell them about these things and the realities. But sometimes Joe, you just you can't, you can't make those logical connections work for everybody.
And this is where mistakes happen. Right? This is where you see companies over buy or get into really bad situations during a technology buy or implementation. And it shuts the business down because there's something just existential that they didn't think about, or the consulting company or the software vendor, everybody's culpable here in in terms of a project. But there's a lot of stuff that can happen to derail that for sure.
Joe Lynch 32:12
I am wrong to say that when you talk about tech. Now, first off, this supplier who's created that technology is probably always updating. So there's whatever you started to implement last year, has more capability right now than you were sold. Is it right to say that they should really never stop? Maybe there's a little break, but there should be another technology project, maybe it's just training, maybe it's just turning on new fields.
But it should never stop. Because here's I said this before we hit record more time on it. At some point somebody calls you and says, Brad, last year, you sold us that and we're just not getting everything we want out of it. We think we should get a new technology and you're like, No, you should use this technology you have completely use 60% of it, you 70% of next year use 80% of this.
Brad Forester 33:03
Yeah, we see this all the time. And we will point them back to the charter, right? We'll say when we started this project, here were your goals and objectives. And we selected the technology to satisfy those goals and objectives over a period of time. And that's the implementation period. So now you've got the foundation up, right?
Here's the house analogy, again, you've got the foundation, the concrete basement walls are up and you've got some sticks above you. That's not a finished product, right? This is there's no home, there's no roof over your head, but you're moved in. And this is the reality that we see with a lot of clients. And it's a tactic is totally fine to go live with an operational tool that is half baked, if you want to call it that, but it's not okay to move into a house without a roof. But the analogy still works in that the client that has bought the technology need to continuously keep putting walls up, keep expanding, keep enhancing, keep extending the product, because it is very rare, Joe, that the first drop in implementation satisfies 100% of the Golden objective, then even requirements that were expected or desired upon initiating the program.
And this is where also we're trying to teach a different set of tactics and playbooks to our clients with regards to what they should be doing at day zero, which is continuous improvement. You're a retailer or you're an automotive company. As soon as you buy that transportation management system. You're now a piece of your organization is now a software company. And you need to have a product manager and you need to have developers and you need to have people that can really leverage the system, leverage the data, understand the integration, figure out how to resolve issues that they come up. But not only that to know how to tweak that application to satisfy the changes in your business, or to accommodate for black swan events like COVID. And we have to ship stuff directly to the customers do we need it done in two weeks, to be able to do that, from a system capability perspective requires a lot of knowledge, and the right philosophy at the leadership level within a logistics organization.
This is where clients often fail, and we don't have any numbers. This is what we see working with logistics clients is that implementation are pretty easy. If you get the software vendor selection done, right. Implementations usually go much more smoothly. Implementations from our perspective, our labor, their effort, there's not a lot of gotchas and risks and surprises in implementations.
From our perspective, they're pretty much this is a drop in, we're gonna build a house. At the end of it based on what you've given us, we're done with the job. Now phase two comes and now we want to extend it now we want to go after the money and the saving and the investment. And we're like, Okay, here's what we need to do. And that is not something that is normal.
A lot of clients think as soon as I buy the iPhone, I know everything about the iPhone, and there's no way for even for me, at my age, I don't know, I probably know 40% of my iPhone capabilities. And the rest of it is a mystery to me. And that's okay, I just don't have the time to invest in it. But clients need to know what they're capable of what their systems are capable of. Because the the downside to not knowing is every 10 years, you're gonna go back and rip and replace. Let's pick a new TMS, let's rip it out, put a new one in. And that's not effective. And it's not a good use of capital. Yep,
Joe Lynch 36:54
I remember I talked to somebody that's so long ago about this. And they said, We're going to pick a supplier, there was a 3PL. And our thought process is we're going to pick someone we who could do the work. But we also have to have a cultural fit. And we want them to be really effective to start meaning all of our shipments, and then we want to work on the costs over time. I don't want to cut my cost. I don't want to say, Oh, they saved me 30% Right away. But my business is a disaster because everything's later, if not arriving. And I think the same thing with this technology vendor.
It used to be thinking back in the olden days, you would implement and then once a quarter, you would get some CD. Look it up kids, right? Look it up on YouTube, you get CDs, and you would update. And there would be a maintenance update, and maybe some new features. But they weren't involved in it. They and I work for a software company, I Silicon Valley and one of my neighbors convinced me to go work with him. And he done very well for himself yet lived in a mansion. So I figured, alright, he knows what he's doing. And he said, I remember one day, we're driving and he said, all the money is in the maintenance. And those are still Steve's CD ROMs. We were sending. And I was like, what today, those suppliers are usually stuff is in the cloud.
So those updates are happening daily. And you don't really have a chance choice, whether you update usually, it's a much better way. But I think also those suppliers want you as a long term customer, and use them use JBF. And keep getting better every day and be able to say yeah, we we get new software last year, and we're using 30% more of it this year. And next year, we're going to even use even more.
Brad Forester 38:41
Yeah, that's a great point, Joe, in the thinking. Over the weekend, we had apparently we had a Microsoft Update that impacted email or Outlook Exchange Server, it impacted teams and impacted our users access to these tools. And it took the better part of Monday morning to figure out what happened and how to remediate. And a lot of settings just got wiped out and reset back to default through this background cloud update.
And if that were to happen with clients running a multimillion dollar TMS that they've invested two years of their time to implement, and a patch or an upgrade comes out that they're unaware of.
Just think of the ripple that could have to the business in the impact that this operational tool a transportation and logistics systems are very much operational tools unless they're just used for modeling or problem solving purposes. They can shut the business down easily. So the new cloud reality is very frequent upgrades.
Most software vendors will be specific and tell clients that you have, we're going to do four releases a year, and you have to take three of those, you have to stay at least somewhat current on our releases. And that is a full time job. That's a continuous upgrade burden for clients that is in unspecified, unmarketable, not talked about cost of the cloud is Perpetual Testing, perpetual preparation, perpetual feature function delta training, hey, we just launched a new UI, oh, let's stop that I used to look at my load bench or my workbench.
Last week, I come back in on Monday and everything is upside down. Everything is redone, I don't know where to go to look at the orders that are unfulfilled and the loads that are late.
So you constantly have to stay on top of the features and the enhancements in the releases, and do regression testing perpetually and do quarterly releases and figure out which releases you want to take. And every time they make an enhancement or an upgrade. They're often adding new stuff. They're adding features, though things can be valuable, but they're not going to be valuable unless you implement them and take advantage of them.
That type of new reality for the shippers is becoming better known. And now we have a set of tactics and playbooks to help them address those types of things.
Joe Lynch 41:25
I love it. I love it. I'll tell you, it's this, the technology is awesome. We obviously love it. We want to continue to use it when I can. But it doesn't come without the care and the maintenance. And I love what you said about the pregnancy is yeah, there's a brand new playbook once that child is in the world. So I'm going to summarize and I want your final thoughts on the topic. I'm here with my friend Brad Forester about freight tech reality check. So first thing we talked about is a lot of churn in the space. Some companies getting bought some companies struggling, also, a lot of people being forced to get new systems because maybe their old system got purchased. Lots of challenges there. We talked about AI and ML and the impact real and or imagined. We talked about the implementation and post implementation that's again, the pregnancy and the child rearing two different things. You have to you need a playbook from both. And then we just talked about these quarterly releases patches, all this challenges. This is really the care and maintenance of that system once I get it.
Final Thoughts Brad Forester?
Brad Forester 42:35
I would say from a shipper perspective, just technology is not something you can run away from it is a critical part of the effective execution of logistics strategy. So it's not going to go away anytime soon. So don't put your head in the sand and think that once you've gone live, everything is roses, right? Because it's going to require a lot of additional time and attention.
And somebody has to keep the lights on from a systems perspective. And that's not always just the IT groups IT departments responsibility. Don't bury your head in the sand technology is critical.
Joe Lynch 43:12
Two questions for you. First enough, again, one more time, who do you serve? And what problems do you solve for them?
Brad Forester 43:20
Sure, we serve shippers and 3PL that are anywhere from $50 million annual freight spend to over a billion dollar freight spend it across whatever industry, we are industry agnostic. And we help those clients with the proper strategy selection, implementation. And Karen feeding or maintenance, for lack of a better term of those logistics technology.
Joe Lynch 43:45
Awesome, Brad, I like to interview smart, interesting people like you people who are killing it in the space. Who else should I interview?
Brad Forester 43:53
I love what what Thomas Moore is doing. He's got a couple really good software companies in his portfolio. He's I believe he's an ex Princeton professor of optimization. And we interact with with Thomas and his his son, who runs one of his companies in the forecasts conference just three or four weeks ago up in Chicago. And he's doing some really cool stuff in the space.
Joe Lynch 44:23
I was just talking to John Larkin, the famous investment guy in our space, and he was talking about all these optimization companies all of a sudden, and you're just describing one of them. And when two leaders in the space in basically less than a week tell me optimization because we didn't talk so much about that was just execution stuff. So I would love to talk to Thomas so it's still relevant. They'll important.
Yep. So what conferences will we see you in the JBFers at?
Brad Forester 44:57
Our next conference is the Descartes user conference for their TMS and and routing and scheduling application. But I think our conferences there are pretty much done for the year for us anyway. But there could be some some other pockets.
Joe Lynch 45:21
I'll see you Manifest in 2024. I've been telling everybody I will be there again this year. I hope so. Did you go last year, by the chance?
Brad Forester 45:30
We found a couple people I didn't know personally attend. There was so many people there.
Joe Lynch 45:34
I always say I've got to do a better job of connecting with all the folks who are out there because it's one of those 3000 Plus, way to go. Yeah, who do you see? I was like I saw 300 people that I know.
Brad Forester 45:44
Yeah, up everybody. That's the problem. Exactly.
Joe Lynch 45:49
Anyway, what I'll do, Brad is I'll put a link to your LinkedIn profile. I'll link to your website. Any other links you and your marketing team? Give me I'll put those in the show notes. And Brad, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.
Brad Forester 46:01
Thanks for having me, Joe. It's great talking with you as always, then, pleasure being here.
Joe Lynch 46:05
Awesome. And thank all of you for listening to my podcast. Your support is very much appreciated. And until next time, onward and upward. You have been listening to the logistics of logistics podcast where we engage with leaders in the logistics and supply chain community. If you like what you hear, please subscribe, hit the like button and leave us a nice review on Apple or Spotify or wherever else you listen. Also, please check out our videos on YouTube and connect with us on LinkedIn. We're very big on LinkedIn. And you can also reach us on the logistics of logistics.com our website
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