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A Winning Strategy: Shifting to Cloud-Based Technology

Before life in transportation and the world changed, Gartner Vice President Analyst, Ed Anderson, summed up a shift to the cloud this way: “Organizations embracing dynamic, cloud-based operating models position themselves for cost optimization and increased competitiveness.”

And, more recently, life and transportation industry experts continue to watch as Anderson’s assessment is ringing true.

“The shift has been happening gradually for the past ten years,” said Trimble Transportation VP of Technology and Cloud Services Keith Weitz, also noting an acceleration over the past months.

“We’ve seen more companies shift from making large capital expenditures for their transportation management systems (TMS) to cloud-based solutions. In tandem with Microsoft Azure, our SaaS software provides a more predictable cost so our customers can spend money on their operations without incurring ongoing or unpredictable expenses for managing and maintaining their IT infrastructure,” he said.

The Winds of Change

“Transportation and logistics companies are moving away from perpetual license to subscription-based models for other benefits as well,” Weitz continued. “The solutions meet the same business and management needs but this technology puts responsibility for functionality and updates, database maintenance and security, and backups on the cloud services supplier.”

The advantages of a TMS SaaS have been front and center over the past two years as transportation companies have worked to enable connectivity for remote workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In many cases, TMS SaaS has become a necessary capability for accessing tools and data. Going forward, the benefits of being able to connect from anywhere at any time is certain to remain important for supply chain stakeholders.

Never Put Off Until Tomorrow

The right time to decide to shift to SaaS is not when a tipping point forces you to consider that option. With foresight, you will be able to recognize inefficiencies between your operation’s current functionality, in-house expertise, resources and your future needs. 

In short, one of the burning questions to float among your leadership is: Can our business afford to continue operating in the same manner?

Another way to effectively decide when to move to a TMS SaaS involves putting your operation to a SWOT analysis to determine its dependence on technology and susceptibility to harm in its current form. Those can include factors such as:

  • Natural disasters/destruction of or no access to IT infrastructure

  • Internet or power outages

  • Hackers and cyberattacks

Further considerations include losing institutional knowledge when employees with the necessary skill sets leave; it takes time to bring new hires up to speed. Last but not least, if expansion is in your company’s future, can your current IT system, the employees that support it and the physical space available, handle your growth?

With answers to those questions, an industry-leading provider can create a proof of concept for a TMS SaaS or fleet maintenance platform and determine which threats are mitigated or removed by shifting from on-prem to cloud technology. A deep dive will tell you if and when a change to the cloud outweighs the benefits of managing your own system.

Next Steps

Once the reasons to move to the cloud are clear, the process of finding the best solution for your business is straightforward. The right fit for your TMS is Trimble Transportation and Microsoft Azure. There is no substitute for domain knowledge and expertise—professionals possess the depth of knowledge needed to match services with customer business objectives.

An understanding of cloud options is important, too. Public cloud services like Microsoft’s Azure can be appropriate for smaller entities to very large-scale operations. For most transportation and logistics companies, though, a private cloud has the perfect mix of capabilities, expertise and state-of-the-art equipment. It can manage your entire network, set up and maintain firewalls and wireless solutions, solve connectivity issues and offer streamlined, one-stop support.

More importantly, the partnership between Trimble and Microsoft Azure offers the convenience, efficiency and comprehensive knowledge of a single provider for both your IT infrastructure and core TMS needs. The resulting 360-degree visibility enables optimum performance and integration. Simply put, it provides the best of both worlds: highly-qualified IT solutions to support your operations and extensive transportation and logistics industry experience.

Entrenched in the Digital Transformation

A study published by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) exploring the future of the trucking industry as it goes through digital transformation provides some insight into why this choice is being made. 

Key findings in the IBV Truck 2030 Executive Survey include that 64% of truck executives said their company’s future success depends on digitally reinventing themselves. In addition, 48% said customized customer experiences, enabled by digital technologies, will be an important competitive differentiation for 2030.

The report noted that trucking companies are participating in a variety of platforms, including those to manage their assets, business processes, data, fleets, and technology. The ability for companies to quickly engage in platforms is a benefit.

If those are reasons the cloud continues to be a very active playing field for IT development and growth in transportation and logistics, today’s cloud is also more secure than most on-premise systems. Also, it is increasingly the only place to access the latest and most innovative technologies.

At the same time, as businesses increasingly rely on hosted business solutions, the price for delivering them continues to come down. Simultaneously, the cost of hardware and staff needed to maintain, upgrade, secure and service on-premise solutions continue to rise.

Gartner Research indicated the public cloud services market is estimated to top $206.2 billion this year, a 17% increase from 2018. With businesses progressively choosing to go to the cloud for IT investments as well, more money is expected to be directed toward cloud-based services than traditional IT solutions, especially, but not exclusively, through 2022.

Customer Profile: Premier Refrigerated Transport

“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” may be sound advice in many instances, but for Houston-based Premier Refrigerated Transport (PRT), the change from on-premise to the cloud with Trimble’s TruckMate SaaS has brought more of a good thing.

“Trimble SaaS gives us consistency at all of our fleet locations, including our 24/7 dispatch operation,” said Pete Novembre, IS manager at PRT. “Especially with the challenges of the past year, we need to be even more confident that our people who need to access the TMS have consistent performance and information through remote capabilities.”

Formed in 2017 when the private carrier for Monterrey Mushrooms was spun off into a for-hire trucking company, PRT operates over 100 refrigerated trucks from seven terminals in California, Texas, Illinois, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Florida and in Mexico. The carrier covers the lower 48 states plus Mexico and travels over 17 million miles annually.

One year ago, PRT moved TruckMate from its own infrastructure to TruckMate SaaS from Trimble. Today, about 40 users across the company from front-line dispatchers to directors of operations use the software.

“We originally chose TruckMate because it had every capability our management team needed for operations workflow and financial processes, connections with customers and mobile communications integrations,” Novembre stated.

“Monitoring, updates, back-ups and security gives us reliability,” Novembre said. “With TruckMate in the cloud, Trimble took a good system and made it better.”

Get the Facts on Moving to Cloud-Based Technology

While the benefits of moving to a TMS SaaS on the Azure cloud are clear, you're wondering: how can you make the change in your business? Our experienced team at Trimble Transportation is here to help.