Executive Briefings

Opinion: Supply Chain Visibility Acquisition Market Is Heating Up

News of Descartes Systems Group's acquisition of MacroPoint LLC hit me right in the middle of a research effort vetting several of the more notable players that dominate the exact same solution space. I walked into the project wondering why there hadn't been more M&A activity; more specifically, why the market's Transportation Management System (TMS) vendors seemed to have conceded all-things-track-and-trace-related to this booming group of upstart "supply chain visibility" solution providers.

And while I had half-settled for an answer that says, "TMS software companies needed a third party to do this," it's now clear that I should have trusted my gut.

For background, MacroPoint provides technology that visually plots the progress of shipments on a map. It does so in near real time. It also combines lots of additional risk data like weather, traffic, temperature, altitude, etc. and applies analytics aimed at providing shipper companies a way to predict and optimize their logistics supply chains.

Why are truck icons moving on a map important? Because the underlying data enables all kinds of goodness — everything from the kind of shipment milestone tracking information we consumers have come to expect from carriers like FedEx and UPS, to the kind of where-is-my-package-now information that e-commerce customers have come to expect, to new levels of capacity management aimed at helping shippers and carriers operate far more efficiently, for example, allowing shippers to optimize their docking operations and carriers to load match more timely so they can keep moving — full.

“Consumers expect to see the location and progress of shipments from the point of order to delivery,” said Ken Wood, EVP of Product Management at Descartes. “With leading e-commerce retailers and other shippers demanding that their transportation providers provide real-time location-based information, the business-to-business market now has the same expectation of full visibility into transportation moves. To meet this expectation, MacroPoint has established what we believe is the preeminent network of connected vehicles and location-based content in North America.”

Here’s a market where size surely matters. MacroPoint is one of the largest, managing a network of over 2 million trucking assets and drivers. They’re connected to trucks through via a variety of techniques, including integrations to on-board electronic logging devices (ELDs), GPS-enabled smart phone applications and location-based mobile phone triangulation.

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And while I had half-settled for an answer that says, "TMS software companies needed a third party to do this," it's now clear that I should have trusted my gut.

For background, MacroPoint provides technology that visually plots the progress of shipments on a map. It does so in near real time. It also combines lots of additional risk data like weather, traffic, temperature, altitude, etc. and applies analytics aimed at providing shipper companies a way to predict and optimize their logistics supply chains.

Why are truck icons moving on a map important? Because the underlying data enables all kinds of goodness — everything from the kind of shipment milestone tracking information we consumers have come to expect from carriers like FedEx and UPS, to the kind of where-is-my-package-now information that e-commerce customers have come to expect, to new levels of capacity management aimed at helping shippers and carriers operate far more efficiently, for example, allowing shippers to optimize their docking operations and carriers to load match more timely so they can keep moving — full.

“Consumers expect to see the location and progress of shipments from the point of order to delivery,” said Ken Wood, EVP of Product Management at Descartes. “With leading e-commerce retailers and other shippers demanding that their transportation providers provide real-time location-based information, the business-to-business market now has the same expectation of full visibility into transportation moves. To meet this expectation, MacroPoint has established what we believe is the preeminent network of connected vehicles and location-based content in North America.”

Here’s a market where size surely matters. MacroPoint is one of the largest, managing a network of over 2 million trucking assets and drivers. They’re connected to trucks through via a variety of techniques, including integrations to on-board electronic logging devices (ELDs), GPS-enabled smart phone applications and location-based mobile phone triangulation.

Read Full Article