To understand the transportation software market it helps to look at things as either buy-side - shippers, exporters - or sell-side - carriers. Simply stated, the buy-side’s challenges are to procure freight services that are safe, expeditious and low cost; whereas the sell-side's challenge is to serve customers and their freight and to manage fleets and labor.
Diving a little deeper, there is a major “fork in the road” in the applications - domestic or international? Many TM systems focus domestically - for North America, that would be truck, rail or barge vs. internationally-focused software - ocean or air. International TMS, besides planning and execution, also needs to address customs and security filings. The air software market and services are distinctly different from ocean today.
A TMS for the buy-side should also have an established network or community of service providers - carriers, 3PLs freight brokers, freight forwarders and customs brokers relevant to the geography, mode and commodity of the goods to ship. In this way the manufacturer can manage selecting and procuring services, execution, and visibility of freight in motion to payment on a single platform. These solutions should also integrate to the content providers for carrier credentials (up to date and proper insurance and safety records of carriers), customs information, and rates.
Sell-side/carriers should be looking for fleet management, route optimization, labor management, customer relationship management, financial, and telematics and so on. Labor management has grown in importance due to new regulations and driver shortages.
The TM market is diverse. The TMS is a dominant capability. This includes planning and execution. The TMS should be your single window or platform into the freight world. This is an aspiration that major TM providers are racing towards. Development has happened so quickly that understanding the road map of the provider is important.
But not everyone needs the big TMS. Often one module will help fill in gaps.
The TM market also has a list of support players and functions that are unique such as Neutral Rating Engines, Parcel Management, Internet of Things and Visibility. Users are adding a layer on top to integrate and provide visibility across the world and their disparate systems to create a worldwide view of goods in motion and total transportation spend. Home delivery is another hot area that requires a different approach than a traditional TMS. Backing all this up are also load boards that help procure and sell.
Social platforms are also being included since the need to communicate and address issues only humans can solve will never go away.
Lastly, the geo-spatial with Complex Event Processing (CEP) elements are being added to the traditional TM platforms. Geo-mapping has been around for awhile. But now real-time data about events - weather, traffic and so on - is being added through the CEP.
In 2016, many firms will be upgrading some or all of their TM portfolios. Mid-sized firms will not be left out since the cloud provides them access to the best-in-class options. TM players will continue their race to acquire or build more modules to grab a higher place in market share. The market growth will continue at about 10 percent for the foreseeable future.
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