Eliminating data silos has long been a primary focus of freight’s technological revolution. As players across the supply chain continue to adopt high-tech solutions — and more and more tools are introduced — that same principle is being applied to platforms. Historically, digital platforms and transportation management systems (TMS) have largely existed in their own, individual spaces. Now, platform integrations are taking center stage.
The sheer number of technological tools available has made integration necessary for reducing tech overwhelm, increasing adoption rates and driving out inefficiencies. While born of necessity, this focus on platform integration aligns well with the industry’s emerging appreciation for data sharing and collaboration in general. This unique combination of factors should help reduce resistance across the supply chain.
“In the past, it was almost like technology platforms and TMSs would operate in isolation,” Trucker Tools CEO Prasad Gollapalli said. “Now, we are integrating them together. TMSs have become smarter when integrating with digital platforms, and they are looking for platforms that match up with their needs.”
Strong integrations provide a wide range of benefits for both the TMS provider and the digital platform involved. Ultimately, however, it is the customer that stands to gain the most when two well-suited companies combine their talents. Customers gain access to new tools without having to do extra legwork, streamlining their operations and providing opportunities for optimization. This is especially true as the demand for automation grows.
“Platform integrations are key for creating efficiencies. When a carrier books a load with a digital freight matching tool and the carrier’s information doesn’t float back to the broker, the automation process fails,” Gollapalli said. “It’s like buying a Porsche and pushing it around.”
The push toward automation has gotten stronger over the past year, and that is not expected to stop anytime soon. For digital tools to provide full automation of any task, they must be integrated with the other platforms involved in the execution of that task. Otherwise, the task is not really automatic at all.
While every member of the supply chain stands to gain something from a well-executed platform integration, it is important to remember that not all partnerships are meant to be. Choosing the right platforms to integrate with is important for both digital platforms and TMS providers.
“We have to consider if our companies work well together and if they are leaders in their space. As an example, Trucker Tools is certainly a leader doing innovative things our customers can benefit from right now,” MercuryGate Chief Strategy Officer Jeffrey Varon said. “We’ve got a wide variety of customers and partners across the board. Each one brings something different to the table. If both companies are focused on delivering value to customers, we’re going to have a win-win situation.”
MercuryGate and Trucker Tools recently teamed up to provide customers with access to the best suite of services possible.
“Our clients expect us to constantly improve our solutions, creating digital process advancements that increase utility and efficiency,” Varon said. “Integrating with Trucker Tools is an example of how MercuryGate innovates with key partners for competitive advantage.”
According to Gollapalli, Trucker Tools has worked hard to become a digital platform worth partnering with.
“Digital platforms need to perform multiple functions in order to limit the number of partners a TMS has to integrate with,” Gollapalli said. “It is important to bring three or four functions together seamlessly.”
When it comes to choosing which TMS providers to partner with, Gollapalli emphasized the importance of innovation, direction and network.
“You want to be working with a TMS that most of your brokers and shippers have adopted,” Gollapalli said. “You want a TMS that is not just integrating with all the tools in the world, just for the sake of it. They should have priorities.”