Open Road For On-Demand TMS

As companies search for solutions that increase efficiencies-in the face of higher operational issues-on-demand TMS is meeting great expectations.


Real Time Freight: Hybrid, Closed-Loop Solution

Real Time Freight Services offers a "hybrid" system, says Jim Vrtis, CEO of the Chicago-based company. "We are a crossover of transportation managements systems, load-matching systems, load board technologies and supply chain management solutions. We connect direct shippers with over 12,000 carriers in our Web 2.0 network that offers both communities the benefits of centralized and closed-loop communication of freight transportation information."

Vrtis adds that while the Real Time Freight system is not a traditional TMS, it is designed to integrate with a company's existing software and extends beyond other similar solutions to enable better decision-making within the freight transportation function.

"As a portal community, it is important to us to improve the communication between shippers and carriers. We eliminate the information silos and provide our customers with a closed-loop cooperative network. Capturing all information in a centralized Web-based system allows companies to share their information across their business in real time."

The system includes many features of a traditional TMS. Vrtis reports that one customer was close to choosing a TMS when it discovered and ultimately chose Real Time Freight. "It met their transportation management requirements at significantly lower costs and at a reduced change management effort."

Supercharging Supply Chain Activities

Vendors report their customers desire the rich data on-demand TMS solutions deliver for business reporting. Johns at HighJump notes that when a client wants to develop a new report, the client itself can do this or HighJump can.

"If it makes sense, we can leverage that new knowledge to our whole user base, as long as it's not intellectual property and as long as we have the permission from our client to use that leverage for the user base. In such a case, this is like having a users group, or a benchmarking group, so as new knowledge is developed, we can offer these improvements to our entire base."

Gonzalez at ARC Advisory Group notes that an emerging trend in the industry is evident in vendor partnerships like LeanLogistics and CHEP and others, even though this means vendors are "walking a tightrope" but moving in this direction nonetheless.

"A lot of software companies are treading slowly in thinking about what kinds of services they might want to offer because they don't want to be in conflict with logistics services providers or with some of their consulting services partners. But, at the same time, they recognize that this is the direction in which customers want them to head and they also recognize this is where future growth and profitability is for them."

On-demand TMS, although still an emerging area, eyes global expansion and adoption. "This is something the CHEP acquisition will give LeanLogistics, in the ability to expand globally," says Forrester's Connaughton.

"These solutions have done a great job meeting the requirements of many companies; but these solutions are just limited to locations predominately in North America," Connaughton adds. "There is a huge opportunity for this industry to grow globally; companies want to integrate with their global trade compliance solution because of the big buzz around total landed costs, which are being used as a measurement to understand supply chain efficiency."

Over the next five years these solutions will be re-architected to handle global applications that will support multiple languages and currencies, continues Connaughton. Companies will then have the advantage in their on-demand TMS solutions of having one instance across countries, eliminating the need for separate or siloed installations.

Vendors in this space are attempting to differentiate themselves from others. For example, Sterling Commerce is taking a different approach to a vendor like LeanLogistics, notes Connaughton. "LeanLogistics' customers view them as much as a service company as a software company and they look to Lean for their expertise for the ability to put into their hands the actual optimization, or some of the day-to-day management of their transportation.

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