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Digital Transformation in Transportation – Part 4: Onboarding a SaaS Solution for Growth & Security

In previous parts of our deep dive on digital transformation in transportation, we examined how to get started with software as a service (SaaS), how SaaS solutions enhance cybersecurity and how organizations can find the right SaaS solutions. In this final piece in our series, we’re looking at the onboarding process for Trimble’s SaaS and cloud-based solutions, such as TMW.Suite and how organizations can prepare themselves for the transition away from on-premise technology to achieve enhanced productivity, connectivity and security. 

Addressing the Fear of Cloud-Based Solutions

Whether it’s a roll-out of a brand new solution, or a conversation from an on-premise version of a solution to a cloud-based version, migrating to a cloud-based infrastructure can create efficiencies, layers of security and a direct path to new integrations and add-on solutions.

But like with all change, the prospect can be daunting. Mike Skraba, a sales support engineer at Trimble, says the most common fear among customers when transitioning to a SaaS environment is giving up control. “It’s understandable when companies are considering new technologies, they don’t want to cede control to a third party,” remarked Skraba. “But once they see that they are still in control of their data, the value of cloud-based solutions becomes plain. More flexibility, efficiency, resilience, insight. These solutions can greatly empower a team to do their best work.”

As Supply Chain Connect reported in a recent article, cloud-based tools provide innumerable benefits to the transportation industry: streamlining and improving accuracy of inventory records, minimizing miscommunication among teams, providing transparency into shipping and delivery times, lowering IT costs, scaling businesses, adding more security and other benefits, facilitating innovation and much more.

And an added benefit Skraba emphasizes: organizations no longer have to worry about managing the tiresome and tedious tasks required of an on-premise environment, such as installing server patches, maintaining security updates, replacing end-of-life operating systems and responding to system faults and cyber threats.

The Step-by-Step Conversion Process

Once a customer has done their research and internal due diligence and contract agreements are in place, it’s time to start transitioning operations to a SaaS solution. Under the guidance of an expert project manager from the Trimble Conversions team, a project plan is developed based on each customer’s unique requirements to ensure a strong kick-off and utilization gets underway.

Here’s an example of the typical steps involved to convert a Trimble TMS (TMW.Suite, TruckMate or Innovative) or a TMT Fleet Maintenance installation from an on-premise environment to our SaaS offering:

  • Customer Database Handoff – With the infrastructure in place, Trimble securely receives a customer’s confidential database to upload into the new, secure SaaS environment.
  • Third-Party Products Upload – The TMS and TMT Fleet Maintenance are equipped with approved third-party integrations that are automatically available to new customers. Non-approved third-party products must be loaded on a hosted server, which is available through Trimble. Other options include API integrations and high bandwidth VPN tunnels to connect multiple networks together.
  • Customer Validation and Testing – Testing is critical to the success of a SaaS conversion. Customers are equipped to test their TMS or TMT Fleet Maintenance instance and validate it through standard use cases.
  • Conversion Readiness – Once the testing period is completed, Trimble aligns with customers on their conversion timeline.
  • Cutover and Go-Live – During the final steps, Trimble hosts a pre-live call, and another copy of the customer database is shared with Trimble to transfer the data to the SaaS system for the go-live! Once the solution is officially up and running, Trimble moves to a support role.

Skraba says the most successful conversions take place when customers identify all existing integration points up front and have them well organized. This helps ensure all of the necessary components are allocated for the SaaS environment. 

Industry Leader in Cybersecurity

The most common customer questions that we receive throughout the transition to cloud-based solutions are related to data access and security. Trimble offers various levels of data access when using a SaaS solution, including the ability to modify database objects through SQL Server Management Studio and SQL Execute tools.

As for data security, Trimble takes every precaution to ensure that data is secured to the highest standards. This includes SOC 2 Type 2 certification, one of the strongest cybersecurity certifications available. Plus, backups are made throughout the day, including hourly transactional logs to provide additional peace of mind for customers.

We use a two-pronged approach to security to ensure fool-proof protection. Trimble has its own cybersecurity team, which utilizes tools to keep products secure, such as the industry leading CrowdStrike platform and the Microsoft security platform, which utilizes technology such as OpenAI to identify threats and provide patches when they are uncovered.

According to Conan Sandberg, global business information security officer at Trimble, their team is leading the way and investing heavily in cybersecurity tools and best practices to help protect the transportation industry.

He says customers who move their operations from on-premise to the cloud can rely on the resiliency of the Trimble Transportation Cloud, supported by Microsoft Azure. With ransomware attacks on the uptick, the Trimble cybersecurity team has the ability to quickly cut over to a completely new architecture and site for safety. Plus, with endpoint detection tools, if a security alert or attack arises, Sandberg and his colleagues are able to contain it in real time.

“Customers moving to a cloud environment have a pretty large security blanket around them, along with multiple layers of inspection points. If anything concerning were to be in the environment, we would catch it,” says Sandberg.

When compared to an on-premise solution, Sandberg feels integration, scalability and availability set cloud solutions apart. He also pointed to the cost aspects of running your own data center, maintaining your server equipment and HVAC system, managing power outages and other investments that go into keeping up hardware independently. He also believes it’s harder to restore operational services and workflows when they go down on premise than in the cloud.

For a small or midsize trucking company considering a SaaS solution, Sandberg says it can be a benefit to access both the native and third-party services and licenses that are built into Trimble SaaS products, such as TMW.Suite TMS or TMT Fleet Maintenance and for any remaining gaps, those can be built by design or outsourced to support their specific needs.

Power of Microsoft Partnership

Along with a high level of security, Trimble’s suite of TMS products that utilize the data stored in Trimble Transportation Cloud, backed by Microsoft’s Azure platform, are giving customers access to a wide range of tools and services during onboarding and beyond.

Sejal Kadakia, who oversees Trimble’s partnership with Microsoft, says whether it's a prebuilt integration, developer resources or ongoing support and training, working with Microsoft has enabled Trimble to streamline and shape a positive SaaS onboarding experience for customers.

Furthermore, Microsoft has put cutting-edge technology and innovation in Trimble’s hands, including the latest advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, so the Transportation Cloud infrastructure and industry are at the forefront with best standards and capabilities.

The companies that build a team and culture that embraces and invests in technological advancements will be the ones that keep up with the transportation industry’s radical pace of change and innovation.

To learn how Trimble’s cloud-based solutions can help advance and protect your transportation or logistics company, contact us to discuss your business and arrange a demo.