For several years now, I’ve been talking with supply chain professionals about the nearly limitless potential for real-time visibility to transform supply chain management as we know it. By finally shedding light on freight logistics – by finally freeing the industry from the time-sucking “Where’s my truck?” hairball – we are helping to unleash a new era in supply chain innovation.
As we enter the last few months of the year, I can say without any equivocation that this long-awaited transformation of supply chain management is well underway. Real-time visibility data has “unchained” the industry from decades of doing business, literally, in the dark.
As a result, the supply chain is collaborating and innovating at unprecedented levels, as is evidenced by a community that’s growing more rapidly than even we could have predicted.
Growth and Diversity
In 2017, 20 customers attended FourKites’ first user conference. In 2018, that number mushroomed to 120. This year, more than 250 supply chain professionals – from three continents and representing virtually every supply chain function – came to Chicago for Visibility 2019. The numbers don’t lie: The ecosystem is growing by leaps and bounds.
It’s also getting more diverse. We now have more than 200,000 drivers using the FourKites CarrierLink app, due in part to the fact that we didn’t just settle for an app with superior tracking precision. We took the time to personally meet with and talk to drivers, and then we incorporated their feedback into the product with features that make life on the road easier.
In addition, we are seeing tremendous growth in platform participation by carriers, brokers and 3PLs. We met with hundreds of them throughout 2019 at various Carrier Summits – including one just last week at a major summit in Europe, where we announced new investments in the region – and we are building out new programs and roadmaps to ensure the FourKites platform returns value to these indispensable partners. One example is our Premier Carrier List, which highlights the carriers who are achieving the highest levels of visibility-related data accuracy. Carriers love it, because they are finding that the reward for great data – beyond improvements in shipping dock turn times, reduced inventory levels and better labor management – is more business!
And of course, shippers. We have more than 260 of the world’s largest in our network, including 18 of the top-20 food and beverage companies, and nine of the top-10 consumer packaged goods companies. We’re now tracking more than 600,000 loads every single day.
It’s this kind of rapid community growth – not just in sheer numbers, but in terms of the diversity of the community, too – that is fueling a rapid explosion in positive “network effects” (i.e., the more connections you have within a given network, the more powerful that network becomes). Which brings me to…
Everyday Innovation and Collaboration Are Now the Norm
I’m both inspired by, and grateful to, this thriving community for the collaboration that is fueling our joint innovation.
At this year’s user conference, FourKites’ product managers and UX designers collaborated with customers on such everyday issues as track and trace, network collaboration, and operational metrics and trends. Their proposals are now built into our product roadmap.
Our Golden Kite Award winners – C&S Wholesale Grocers, PetSmart, Ryder, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Unilever, Ingersoll Rand, Land O’Lakes and Meijer – showcased their breakthroughs in delivering better customer experiences and achieving greater operational efficiencies. Land O’ Lakes, The Michaels Companies, Inc., Exide Technologies and Kimberly-Clark Corporation shared a combination of perspectives, best practices, and lessons for the audience to consider and learn from.
All of this collaboration is paying off in the form of tangible business benefits. Just over the last couple of weeks, C&S Wholesale Grocers announced its Delivery Alerts initiative to drive customer growth. In addition, a recent Forbes story put a spotlight on how visibility is benefitting one of the world’s most iconic brands: Change Can Be Refreshing: How Coca-Cola Consolidated Improves its Supply Chain Significantly with Real-time Visibility. Near the conclusion, Forbes contributor Steve Banker writes, “Coca-Cola Consolidated is still early in its journey, and there are still great opportunities.”
Indeed there are, for all of us. I couldn’t be more excited to continue our collaboration with this incredibly smart, engaged, diverse community of supply chain pioneers. Here’s to closing out 2019 on a high note and entering 2020 committed to tapping all of the opportunity in front of us, together.