NEWS | October 24th, 2017
New era in transport management
Frank Erftemeijer has been on the front line of ICT solutions for transport management for 25 years. As a business development manager he was the driving force at several leading companies until he recently decided to take a new path. A road towards ‘the new world’ as he himself calls it, namely that of Simply Deliver, developer of ultramodern plug & play cloud solutions for transport and supply chain management. What is his motivation and what does he see happening in the market. An interview.
What are the major challenges that logistics companies are currently struggling with?
“With the rise of e-commerce last decade, we have all become accustomed to an extremely high level of visibility and ease of use. Everything is findable online and can be delivered wherever you want, super fast and at no extra cost. Sometimes you can change the delivery time and location up until the last minute. What we as consumers have become completely accustomed to has also become the frame of reference for logistics service providers in the B2B world. In order to comply with this, they actually have to drastically modernize all their processes; planning smarter, processing orders faster, exchanging real-time data with subcontractors, setting up visibility platforms, etc. This requires advanced ICT systems, but many logistics companies are reluctant to do so. Their experience is that it costs a lot of time and money and they are a bit fed up with that. They are tired of automation, even though it is precisely now that they need to take steps. That’s where I think the big challenge lies.”
How do you think companies should address this challenge?
“I think the key lies with cloud solutions and the implementation/payment model such as Simply Deliver offers. Most companies have invested a lot in standardized processes, integration and enterprise-wide ERP, TMS and SCM systems in recent years. What they need now are specific solutions that deliver rapid improvement and are easy to fit into their current IT landscape. No large implementation projects but targeted modules that you can easily call up from the cloud and that are so user-friendly that you can work with them immediately. Companies should also be able to decide for themselves what additional components they need and what they want to start with first. For example, if a customer wants to automate the manual entry of orders, they will choose the Simply Converter that allows you to read emails, PDFs, Excel or Word files directly into your TMS. If this works out well, they move on to other modules. They determine their own growth path and pace.”
A lot of software runs in the cloud anyway, why is this suddenly such a breakthrough?
“It’s a misconception that so much software now comes from the cloud. Many companies have their systems hosted by a cloud provider, but they are still working with their own expensive, customized software. That is not what I mean. With real cloud software, every company works with the same software and you pay purely on the basis of use. We call that Saas, Software as a Service. You don’t have to install anything yourself and you always work with the latest version. So you immediately benefit from all the functional improvements and security patches. The modules have standard plugs and are easy to connect, so that everyone still sees the whole as one integrated, individual system. For example, you can also equip your subcontractors with an app and offer your customers a single visibility platform, all in your own house style.”
But every company has unique software requirements, right, so how do you deal with them?
“Those specific requirements are mostly in the data model and the functionality a company does or does not want to use. With a good cloud solution, you can configure all that yourself. Every transport company needs an order management system, but the difference lies in the fields that a company wants to record with an order and which functions apply to them. In Simply Deliver’s order management software, you check that once and then the platform and the apps work exactly as you want. So a road hauler in chemicals sees different fields than a company in Fast Moving Consumer Goods, but the functionality can be the same for both companies.”
Is the transportation industry actually ready for the Software as a Service model yet?
“I think they are ready for it right now. The supply chain sector has invested a lot in standardization and electronic data exchange in recent years. Think of the development of the electronic waybill, the links with portals and the standard EDI messages between companies. Transport companies realize better than anyone that they are a link in a chain and that IT systems must communicate perfectly with those of other companies. In order to achieve this, they have recently put their backend processes in order and have become more mature in terms of IT organization. This is therefore the ideal time to start working with cloud software. Now they can harvest and benefit from all those efforts and investments they made earlier. They’ve had the sour, now comes the sweet.”
You’ve been in the business a long time, what gets you so excited about Simply Deliver?
“The industry is entering a phase where fundamentally different approaches to transportation management software are being taken. No more large implementations and investments, but expansion of existing systems with plug & play solutions that can run in just a few weeks. Solutions that are also compatible with systems from other suppliers, such as a TMS or on-board computers, and for which you only pay when you actually use them. That is the new world in which Simply Deliver wants to be a leader. The state-of-the-art cloud architecture and the applications we have developed have proven themselves in the meantime, with both large and small companies. It really catches on. Our first customers, the early adopters, saw a quick return on investment and are extremely enthusiastic about our approach. That is an incentive to continue with full dedication. I feel that a new era in transport management has dawned and I would like to be the pioneer in it again.”