Throughout recent years, Cerasis has covered the expected trends for the use and implementation of a transportation management system (TMS), as well as the shipping industry top predictions. With the coronavirus fresh on our minds, it is time to approach the topic from a new perspective that is built on rapid sourcing and better management—software as a service (SaaS). For this year, Cerasis will take a further look into the top SaaS-related TMS 2020 trends and how they will influence the future of freight management and risk mitigation.
Artificial intelligence enables “an advanced degree of responsiveness and interaction between businesses, customers, and technology, driving AI-based SaaS trends 2020 onto a new level. There are numerous features developed by modern software providers based on artificial intelligence such as data alerts,” says Datapine. The application of artificial intelligence in SaaS platforms as part of the TMS 2020 trends’ insights will promote continuous improvement and scalability within operations. For years, the use of a SaaS remained largely based on individual systems, but in 2020, shippers should look for artificial intelligence tools to become synonymous with best-in-class SaaS TMS software.
The proliferation of SaaS platforms remains among the top TMS 2020 trends. The proliferation of platforms has also changed how organizations view investment and consider upfront costs versus time to ROI. Furthermore, software vendors now offer multiple launch options, including free or low-cost options. For example, Eric Johnson of Journal of Commerce explains:
“That proliferation has coincided with the rise of the so-called “freemium” model, whereby browser-based software providers offer two versions of a system: one free or low-cost version designed to gain traction from buyers and induce them to eventually pay for a second, premium version designed to drive revenue for the vendor and provide higher value for the user.
For shippers, especially small to midsized ones, this creates a market with many more options. That’s a double-edged sword, of course. Whereas before, the number of TMS providers was manageable even if those systems were out of reach financially (or if a shipper lacked internal capability to fully leverage it), now there are so many choices it can be difficult to determine the right fits in terms of cost and functionality. It can be a paralyzing situation.”
Part of the interest behind SaaS lies in the ability to effectively replace human workers in the freight management process. Such abilities could replace traditional freight brokers with an automated, virtual process. Of course, companies with limited resources remain reluctant to the full exclusion of humans in freight management. It is important that shippers realize the use of a SaaS TMS does not necessarily replace all relationships. Instead, it serves to augment the collaboration and reduce delays in freight quoting and booking. As a result, it holds additional value for more than SMB shippers. Its use can help freight brokers, freight forwarders, carriers, and business-to-business partners better manage freight. In a sense, the SaaS TMS is on track to fully replace traditional freight brokers, but for 2020, it is likely that the systems will serve to augment the services of freight brokers more than an all-out replacement.
Another of the leading TMS 2020 trends surrounds the implementation of systems and their ability to connect with legacy platforms. As reported by Johnson:
“A modern TMS can use application programming interfaces (APIs) to plug into other software providers to extend their capabilities. Trucker Tools, which uses data from a driver-downloaded app to power its load-matching algorithm, partners with a number of TMS providers.”
At the same time, implementing a traditional TMS incurs much more than just investment costs. It requires IT resources and advanced coding knowledge. Depending on the level of modification, i.e., customization of the system, IT costs can easily surpass the cost of the system. As a result, companies forgo implementation and rely on increasingly older systems. Fortunately, this is another area where the TMS 2020 trends involving SaaS stand apart; SaaS platforms are based on user-friendly systems and an easy to implement the process. That includes integration with existing systems.
The value of an advanced TMS is clear, and while organizations may differ in the level of deployment of TMS functions and capabilities, those that need an upper hand must start thinking about rapidly upgrading their systems through a SaaS-based TMS. Such systems are the easiest, most affordable, and most adaptable. Remember, SaaS platforms reside in the cloud, so they naturally have a wide degree of scalability and performance-critical functions to keeping your supply chain operating despite the coronavirus’ disruption.
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