Carrier Integration and “Too-Good-to-be-True” Marketing in Supply Chain Visibility

I am an engineer at heart. I’ve done more than my fair share of deep enterprise solutions architecture and integration work. Maybe that’s why it gets my hackles up when I see supply chain leaders out there being bamboozled by intentionally misleading vendor claims about what it really means to integrate with carriers.

So, let me try to be really clear about what supply chain leaders need to understand when it comes to carrier integration.

Carrier “Connectability” and true Carrier Integration are two different things. Being able to connect to any given carrier’s ELD is a prerequisite to integration. All it really means is you have a lot of work ahead of you to actually integrate a carrier.

You need explicit permission to connect, and then you need to do the hard technical integration work with the carrier’s operating system in order to share data with other shippers and carriers across the network. Hence, point number two….

When a vendor tries to get you to focus on connectability, it’s because they don’t have a lot to say about true integrations. I can confidently state that FourKites has built true, authorized, real-world integrations (via ELD and GPS) with more carriers than any other visibility player in the marketplace. You would expect that since FourKites has the world’s largest network of shippers (more than 200 Fortune 1000 shippers and counting, tracking 2,000,000 loads per month) and has therefore done more heavy lifting to integrate carriers than anyone else out there.

The reason you don’t see us touting connectability on our website, or pushing it in meetings with supply chain leaders, is that it doesn’t actually help shippers get their job done. What really matters is how many of the shippers’ carriers or potential carriers are actually up and running on the platform, and how quickly you can get their other carriers up and running. That’s what will save you time and headaches as you deploy and begin using your visibility platform.

Carrier onboarding is a “thing”—and no one is more experienced or better at it than FourKites. Getting value out of a visibility platform requires the successful onboarding of any given shipper’s carrier partners. Technical integration is one critical component that needs to fit within a broader onboarding program.

You want a vendor who has deep understanding and experience in the onboarding process and how to effectively partner with shippers on an end-to-end program. This includes things like working with procurement, setting up the right teams to manage the process and drive to deadlines, facilitating ongoing communication with carriers, compliance tracking and reporting. And a lot more. We have done all of this over and over with the world’s largest shippers and carriers.

We recently had our annual customer meeting, and it’s exciting to see how quickly this shift to real-time visibility has gained traction. It’s a real movement that’s underway, with very tangible opportunity to reduce costs, optimize execution and grow revenues. We would hate to see “too good to be true” marketing get in the way of progress. To that end, we intend to keep our marketing in line with FourKites culture — i.e., real, honest, authentic and collaborative.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and perspectives—I always appreciate hearing from you.

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