EFT’s 3PL & Supply Chain Summit Panel Recap Pt. I

Last week logistics professionals flooded the city of Chicago for EFT’s 3PL & Supply Chain Summit. project44 leadership was featured prominently at the event, as Founder and CEO Jett McCandless and President Tommy Barnes both participated in panel discussions. Below is a recap of the first panel, check out Part II here!

What Defines a Logistics Business in the 21st Century?

Featuring Jett McCandless – CEO and Founder of project44, Bill Goodgion – President of Ascent Global Logistics, Justin Hall – Chief Customer Officer at YRCW, Drew McElroy – CEO of Transfix, and Robby Nathan – CEO of Load Delivered Logistics.

The discussion started with the term “Freightaholic” being used to describe the panel members, all of whom have devoted much of their careers to the freight industry. It’s true, once somebody enters this industry they tend to stick around. With the industry going through some the most significant changes it has seen in decades, it’s crucial to hear what these industry leaders—freightaholics if you will—think about where things stand and where they’re headed.

Data is King

Logistics has always been data-driven, but modern technology systems now allow us to collect and leverage data in ways we’ve never been able to before. It’s at the point where data is perhaps the most valuable asset in logistics today. Those who can find the smartest ways to use data give themselves the best chances for success. Using that data to fuel predictive and prescriptive analytics will give companies the competitive edge, it all comes down to the tools these companies are using.

This kind of data collection and analytics isn’t possible with legacy technology. You need modern connectivity solutions like APIs if you want real-time data. As Jett put it, “If you’re using a legacy technology communication layer, you’re basically trading stocks with last month’s newspaper.”

Uber for Freight

Uber recently launched its freight product, and many other companies are producing something similar, so this was naturally a part of the discussion. We’ve covered this topic in the past, and many of our sentiments were echoed during the panel discussion, but there was something interesting, unique insights as well.

Companies need consistent freight, and the Uber for freight model is currently unpredictable. There will certainly be a market of on-demand freight orders, but without a level of certainty, companies will never feel comfortable relying on it.

Building Technology Vs. Buying Technology

Despite what some industry analysts have stated, 3PLs and shippers see technology as an enabler, not a threat. Though many have in-house capabilities and resources, outsourcing IT is often the best strategy for 3PLs. Subscribing to the right technology provider is a spectacular accelerator, and Build vs. Buy considerations are more important now than ever before, since technology is reshaping the industry. 3PLs are great at what they do, but they’re going to need help from technology providers to truly kick things into gear.

YRC’s Justin Hall understands that partnering with technology companies can often be more beneficial than building technology in house, “When it comes to APIs, if you want to integrate with a customer and give them a perfect order, where they’ve got visibility from the time they cut a PO from the time they pay the bill, the best way to do it, the fastest way to do it with the most integrity is with APIs.” He said, “Where there’s an opportunity for middleware companies like p44 to help large asset based companies is to say, hey, I’ve got enough IT personnel working on our projects. If I can come up with an economical way to outsource… Our ears are open.”

There are two types of people: those who want to know the truth, and those who don’t. The writing is on the wall—technology, data, and analytics are taking over—logistics companies who leverage progressive technology are going to win here in the 21st Century.