From Legacy Providers to Web-Native Technology
As JBF celebrates our 20th anniversary, we thought it would be interesting to look back at shipper-focused Transportation Management Systems (TMS) from 2 decades ago. Given the billions of dollars that have been invested in logistics technology over the past 20 years, there certainly has been a great deal of change. However, surprisingly, many of the same problems that we were looking to address then continue to some extent today.
Many younger readers may be surprised to know that shipper-focused TMS systems have been around since the early 1990s. ITLS/i2 and Manugistics, both of whom were acquired by JDA/Blue Yonder in the mid-2000s, were over a decade old by 2003. These applications were very sophisticated, but also expensive and suitable only for the very largest shippers.
During this time, a new breed of technology providers entered the market. Companies like Logistics.com, Lean Logistics, Nistevo, Red Prairie and G-Log were all being built using web-native technology and real-time integration protocols. The new breed emphasized carrier connectivity, multi-shipper collaboration, continuous (vs. batch) planning and solution usability, all which were deemed lacking to some extent in the legacy provider solutions.
There certainly has been a great deal of change in logistics technology over the past 20 years. Surprisingly, many of the same problems that we were looking to address in 2003 continue to some extent today.
In an article published in 2003, Jean Murphy, writing for Supply Chain Brain, identified a number of innovative abilities that were being actively developed. Let’s look back at these ideas to see if they are still relevant and if so, how the tech providers and their shipper customers have adopted them.
For this evaluation, we grade the process from 2 perspectives:
- Have the technology providers built out capabilities to effectively support the process?
- Has the process been adopted by shippers?
In hindsight, Ms. Murphy did a great job of identifying significant areas of improvement across an array of process areas and significant progress has been made. However, varying degrees of adoption indicate that work still needs to be done by both technology providers and shippers.
Additionally, new areas of opportunities have arisen, including integrated fleet management, real-time visibility and event management, parcel management and TMS interoperability with adjacent processes including warehouse and yard management. These areas hold the potential to unlock even more value as freight logistics continues to evolve.
Mike Mulqueen is a leading expert in logistics solutions with over 30 years managing, designing and implementing freight transport technology. His functional expertise is in Multi-modal Transportation Management, Supply Chain Visibility, and Transportation Modeling. Mike earned his master’s degree in engineering and logistics from MIT and BS in business and marketing from University of Maryland.
About JBF Consulting
Since 2003, we’ve been helping shippers of all sizes and across many industries select, implement and squeeze as much value as possible out of their logistics systems. We speak your language — not consultant-speak – and we get to know you. Our leadership team has over 70 years of logistics and TMS implementation experience. Because we operate in a niche — we’re not all things to all people — our team members have a very specialized skill set: logistics operations experience + transportation technology + communication and problem-solving skills + a bunch of other cool stuff.