Why Access to Visibility Technologies Should Always Be Free for Carriers

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Why Access to Visibility Technologies Should Always Be Free for Carriers

How often do you think about how your operation can improve visibility? The COVID pandemic created massive disruptions in 2020 that have plagued the industry in early 2021 as well, among other disruptions, such as the Suez Canal blockage, semiconductor chip shortage, and geopolitical challenges.

According to leading media houses, supply chain investments topped $52 billion in 2020. With the increased emphasis on capacity, staying strategic, and reducing overhead, there’s ample opportunity to find more visibility. Why? 

As e-commerce activity increased exponentially over the last 12 months, it created a shift in freight flows, creating a need for multiple modes used between the origin of the shipment and the final destination. Freight market participants, amidst this increasing complexity, still want visibility into the entire journey, at any time. Additionally, it is a carriers’ freight market in every mode of transport, and carriers are looking to reduce any friction in their experience with brokers, forwarders and shippers. Carriers with visibility into freight are more likely to have positive relationships with their shipper customers. After all, carrier visibility amounts to shipper visibility, which amounts to keeping end-customers informed. 

Meanwhile, that visibility is paramount to building strategic value and enabling both automation and optimization in the network.

Carriers are the backbone of the transport industry, and providing them the ‘right’ technology is critical to the ecosystem’s functioning. Joining a network and having access to the latest technological developments must be easy and should provide value for every participating carrier. Without these fundamentals, carriers are not likely to embrace new technologies and participate in supply chain collaborations. 

Moreover, since predictability and visibility play an essential role in providing the best possible service for carriers and their customers, it is critical to provide access to the technology free of charge. 

By eliminating the cost of the technology for carriers, expanding the network is inevitable. The value created for the carriers is enormous, prompting them to be a part of the network.

For carriers joining the project44 network, there are several gains in store, including:

  • Immediate expansion of carrier networks through collaborative resources
  • Increased visibility may lead to carrier-of-choice status and new partnership opportunities

These carriers come in all shapes and sizes, and we are proud to make room for all of them. We welcome big companies with hundreds or thousands of trucks and a large staff and small family-owned businesses that operate a single truck. 

Top-performing carriers can negotiate better rates or get in touch with better-paying customers by simply having the right technology and visibility at their fingertips. The carrier’s visibility and tracking data can also be used to improve performance, gain valuable business intelligence, or otherwise improve their service.

As Gartner mentioned in the article “How to Assess the Benefits and Return on Investment of a Real-Time Transportation Visibility Platform,” the key to success in any visibility initiatives rests with carrier adoption and use of such as real-time transportation visibility platform (RTTVP). Therefore, carrier benefits are critical pieces to consider. The benefits make a carrier more desirable to work with, making it easier for the companies to find quality long-term carrier partners.

In an article published in September 2020, Jett McCandless, the founder and CEO of project44,  argued why it is important to not charge carriers to join a digital freight network. Visibility within operations is imperative today, bringing three essential arguments to the fore:

  1. The more extensive the network, the more value for the entire ecosystem
  2. Charging the carriers doesn’t necessarily mean visibility is free for shippers  
  3. An expansive network enables improved supply chain collaboration

The value is related to the network effect. As more carriers, shippers, and LSPs use a community-driven network, the value they gain grows exponentially. By being a part of an extensive network, carriers can leverage it to gain more insights into market behavior. 

That said, the current industry trend of charging carriers for visibility and making it free for shippers does not necessarily translate to the latter getting ‘free’ visibility. On one hand, the existing business model discourages carriers from participating, reducing the effectiveness of the carrier network, and on the other, it forces carriers to increase their freight rates in every possible way to cover their operational costs. 

An expansive network enables improved supply chain collaboration. Trust is the lynchpin around which supply chain collaboration efforts revolve. Collaboration must be built upon trust, and it requires cooperation from the entire ecosystem – the customer, the shippers, and the carriers. Visibility and transparency are still delicate topics to some. It sometimes involves education and trust before carriers are willing to share data and feel safe with their customers. 

Gartner put it best, saying, “visibility will continue to be one of the top technologies supply chain end-users will invest in by 2023.” The strategy of building an extensive carrier network is a top priority. It should be handled with trust throughout the ecosystem, as there would be no visibility without carriers providing tracking data. 

With all that in mind, it comes as no surprise that more companies are looking for the low-hanging fruit of visibility. And it further solidifies the need to leverage and offer a valuable, insightful, and easy-to-access RTTVP for carriers without an added expense. 

At project44, we know the significance of carriers’ participation and having an extensive carrier network. And we appreciate the value carriers give to our customers. We will continue to support our carriers and keep our carrier services free of charge. And that will always be true through disruption and growth—through evolution in the supply chain and its eventual demand shocks wherever they may occur. Because it is the right thing to do.

Photo credit: Project 44

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