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(With a special thanks to Reason #1: Jeremy)

A few weeks ago, more than 700 supply chain industry leaders — shippers, brokers, LSPs, thought leaders and more — dropped into Chicago to take part in what has become the supply chain industry’s biggest and most consequential event: FourKites’ annual Visibility conference.

In two jam-packed days, Visibility 2023 captured and amplified the special vibe of this incredible community of supply chain professionals. The positive energy was palpable. Sessions combined visionary thinking with pragmatic advice and best practice sharing. Attendees lived the theme of the show — Connected — through the countless formal and informal interactions and conversations that are so critical to this industry’s transformation journey. For those of you who missed it, you can check out the highlights from Visibility here.

So I’d like to personally thank everyone who gave their time and energy to attend and contribute to our most important annual event yet. But one person who was not in attendance at Visibility 2023 deserves a special callout. Because even though he was not physically in attendance, he had an outsize influence not just on the summit but on the work we have ahead of us as a community.

I’m talking about Jeremy, a trucker who called the FourKites support line a few months back when I happened to be manning the phones.

Jeremy was not happy. Following a long haul, Jeremy had just arrived at his delivery site to find a very long line of trucks in front of him at the gate. He checked his FourKites CarrierLink app and his worst fears were confirmed. Anticipated wait time? 12 hours. Hence the phone call.

I still feel for Jeremy. 12 hours down the drain. Hours taken from him that he could have spent back on the road making that next delivery, or simply recharging with his family.

Worse still, Jeremy is one of millions of truck drivers who get stuck at facilities all over the country. Why? Because there’s no seamless connection between transportation and yards. It’s one of the countless disconnects that plague our supply chains. If you average 3-4 hours of delay at every stop, it comes out to 9 billion wasted hours per year.

Disconnects and waste are everywhere in our supply chains – in order management, warehouse management, inventory, transportation, procurement … everywhere.

And the knock-on effects are huge. As unfortunate as it is for a driver to lose 12 hours idling in a line, missing personal recuperation time and spewing more C02 into the atmosphere, Jeremy doesn’t suffer alone. What about the warehouse that’s waiting on Jeremy’s delivery? They might be facing a stockout risk with a specific product and now, because of the delay, it’s impacting their fill rate. If it’s outbound, that’s impacting top-line revenue.

If you add up the economic cost of all of these disconnects across the supply chain industry, we put the waste at around $240 billion.

That’s why getting more connected is so critical. More specifically, “connected” means breaking down silos between systems and teams so we can share data to generate insights, identify shocks before they happen, streamline operations and improve the customer experience.

It means tighter connections between geographies, because supply chain disconnects in one country impact suppliers and partners upstream and downstream, from ports to over-the-road to final destinations.

And it means connecting ecosystems because supply chains can’t operate in a silo. We’re all dependent on customers, vendors, suppliers, carriers and so on. In nearly every field — from finance to healthcare to tech — when ecosystems are connected, speed, efficiency and progress accelerate. When disconnected and isolated, momentum shrinks.

The good news is we’re making tremendous progress — and nothing is stopping our tenacious supply chain community from pushing forward. We’ve aggregated the largest supply chain data set on the planet in a cloud-native, multi-tenant SaaS application that enables data sharing between most of the Fortune 500 and their supply chain ecosystems. We’re breaking down the barriers between transportation and the yard and order management systems. We’re investing in platform localization, geo-based infrastructure and local partnerships. And we’re supercharging decision-making capabilities with AI like Fin (FourKites Intelligence Network) — leveraging all of the data in our platform to provide answers to supply chain questions faster than ever before.

Ultimately, we’re working together as a community to build a real-time decision-making platform for the supply chain industry — a platform that makes visibility actionable, so that the next time Jeremy faces a 12-hour wait at the yard, he can be proactively re-routed or sent home.

Thank you, FourKites community, for your commitment, and for making the “Connected” theme of this year’s Visibility Conference so tangible and meaningful. The work before us is imperative. Getting more connected is the linchpin to the supply chain industry’s future resilience, its economic health and the well-being of its many constituents. And FourKites is prepared to lead the industry on that requisite journey.

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