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Megan UithovenMegan UithovenSenior Director, Community & Product Operations, FourKites

We always talk about how our customers form the backbone of our innovation engine here at FourKites. They’re our biggest advocates, and also our greatest source of ideas for new products. This was one of the central motivations behind the FourKites IdeaExchange, an initiative we recently started to achieve our business objective of capturing product feedback and new product ideas from customers.

Essentially, the IdeaExchange is a feature within our online customer community where customers can request new features and product enhancements, upvote other customers’ ideas, and help guide FourKites’ product roadmap toward the projects that will deliver the greatest real-world value to our customers. Since our product managers review and provide status updates for every idea that customers submit, this creates a direct feedback loop between FourKites’ product development team and our customer base.

This sounds great in theory, but how is it all working out in practice? Better than ever. In fact, this quarter we had a 22% delivery rate, with another 35% on our near-term roadmap. In other words, one out of every five ideas suggested by our shipper community not only ended up on our roadmap, but it is already live on FourKites!

Taking Feedback to the Next Level

As was mentioned in our latest feature from Built In Chicago, we’ve built our digital shipper community on a foundation of trust and collaboration, and this is ultimately what makes the foru so successful in generating new ideas for FourKites products.

By giving our customers a dedicated place to provide feedback on existing features and functionality, and to collaborate directly with our product managers and designers, we’re also giving our customers a sense of ownership over our products that just doesn’t exist with most technology companies.

Here’s an example of this process in practice: Several months ago, at the start of the COVID pandemic, we rolled out a new, free dashboard designed to help global supply chain professionals better understand the rapidly changing congestion levels in their network. It offers real-time updates on border crossing times, port delays and more, all drawn directly from FourKItes’ global database of live, in-transit shipments.

This dashboard has met with a great amount of success, generating praise and headlines throughout the industry, and helping companies of all shapes and sizes adjust their operations to better weather the COVID pandemic. It was so popular, in fact, that one of our customers even requested, via the FourKites Community, that we make our Network Congestion Map company-specific. That suggestion has since been reviewed, approved and added to our product roadmap, and it will be available to all FourKites customers later this year.

That’s the power of the IdeaExchange.

Expand and Succeed

Our digital shipper community has been so successful over the past several months that we’ve expanded the model to our carrier community, as well. Earlier this quarter we kicked off the first general council meeting for our new digital carrier community, during which we discussed some of the major visibility-related challenges facing carriers and brokers around the world, and what FourKites can do to help.

We’ve even recently been able to start helping these two communities jointly share their expertise on various topics. For example, our recently released carrier-updated ETAs feature was devised not only based upon feedback from our shipper community, but the use case was circulated among our carrier community members, as well. This not only gave them a degree of ownership over the development cycle for a feature that they would be expected to use; it also helped us identify areas where we could further refine the idea into something that would be even more helpful to all stakeholders.

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The global logistics industry has an undeserved reputation as a slow-moving, technology-resistant dinosaur, but this perception couldn’t be further from the truth. In just the short time that we’ve had our shipper and carrier Communities live and contributing feedback on our platform, I’ve seen both the spirit of innovation and the thirst for optimization that I now believe defines this industry. In giving our shippers, brokers and carriers a centralized forum for discussing the viability, limitations and possibilities surrounding our product portfolio, we’ve also given rise to a self-sustaining center of disruption and innovation, the likes of which this industry has never before seen.

Now that we’ve done so, the possibilities are literally endless.

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