This is an important week for the FourKites community, as a record number of the world’s supply chain leaders come together for FourKites’ annual user conference, Visibility 2020 – this year, a state-of-the-art virtual summit, given the ongoing pandemic and the associated travel risks.
To state the obvious: What a year it has been! Even pre-COVID, we were experiencing tremendous market momentum, with a growing and increasingly diverse ecosystem of shippers, carriers, brokers and 3PLs from every region of the globe. We were releasing industry-first innovations at a faster pace, and witnessing our community realize ever-greater value and efficiencies from real-time freight logistics data and predictive analytics.
Then, the pandemic hit. Ironically, even as it upended societal and business norms all over the world, it also made the case for real-time freight visibility in a way that nothing else could. A world dependent upon a complex, fragmented, shambolic supply chain for its critical goods could no longer keep doing business in the dark. Too much is at stake.
And so as we convene for Visibility 2020, real-time supply chain visibility is now, inarguably, mission critical. And if the movement felt like a runaway train pre-COVID, it now feels like a spaceship traveling at warp speed.
The proof is in the numbers. In 2019, we were tracking around 600,000 loads per day. Today, we track over 1 million. In 2019, 200,000 drivers were using our Carrier Link app. Today, the number is 330,000. In 2019, we were tracking the world’s freight over 3.6+ trillion miles. The 2020 number thus far? Nearly 20 trillion miles.
With all of that said, for me the supply chain headline of 2020 is not about company or market growth. The spotlight belongs to the millions of everyday supply chain heroes on the front lines – the truckers, warehouse workers, yard managers, logistics teams and customer service reps, to name just a few – who continue to work long, difficult hours, and put their own health at risk to keep food, medicine and essential goods (and yes, popcorn and mac and cheese, too) flowing to a world in crisis.
And so I am really looking forward to this year’s conference. We’ve never had more work to do, and the work has never felt more important. Here are some of the themes I look forward to exploring with the community this week.
How do we build a more adaptive supply chain? The pandemic laid bare the inflexibility and brittleness of our global supply chains during a crisis. How do we create incredibly intuitive tools that empower our supply chain workers to quickly adapt to situations on the ground? How do we deliver the precise data needed, to the person who most needs it, in the way that’s easiest for them to consume? And ultimately, how do we deliver meaningful insights that can help supply chain workers take the right action at the right time?
How do we build a more global supply chain? Our data show a clear trend toward lengthier, more complex multimodal shipments that span the world. It is FourKites’ vision to be the single pane of glass for door-to-door visibility, with connectivity across every geography and mode, whether ocean, dray, road or air. You name it, we want to be there.
How do we build a more interconnected supply chain? Global supply chains are, by definition, about interdependencies. How do we put visibility at the core of supply chain operations, linking up transportation management, warehouse management, yard management and fleet management?
And, my favorite part: We’ll also announce this year’s recipients of our Golden Kite Awards, and celebrate the individuals and companies that are leveraging real-time visibility to make things work better for a world in crisis.
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We’re looking forward to seeing you online in a few days! As we move into our biggest year yet, we are more excited than ever to create the future of supply chain visibility, together.