Discover, Disrupt, and Deliver (Takeaways from LeanLogistics ClientConnect 2016)

“There are no sacred cows here,” said Chris Timmer, Chief Commercial Officer at LeanLogistics (a Talking Logistics sponsor) in his opening remarks at the company’s ClientConnect 2016 conference last week. He was referring to the “Discover, Disrupt, Deliver” theme of the conference, which is also LeanLogistics’ guiding philosophy today: continuously work to discover what customers need and what LeanLogistics can do to better to meet those needs; be willing to disrupt themselves by continuously questioning the status quo in everything from their products and services to how they hire, train, and develop employees; and deliver ongoing value and benefits to customers in a timely manner.

This philosophy, coupled with the return of key executives, has reinvigorated LeanLogistics, leading it to double-digit growth in business and employees over the past year. And this year’s ClientConnect conference, with over 270 attendees, was the company’s largest ever.

Echoing the theme of the conference were several keynote speakers, including Josh Linkner, Founder and Chairman of EPrize on Harnessing Innovation – Turning Raw Ideas into Powerful Results; Larry Burns, Professor of Engineering Practice at The University of Michigan on The Future of Transportation; and Seth Mattison, Founder and Chief Movement Officer at FutureSight Labs on The Future of Work Today – Insights from the New World of Work.

As the saying goes, you really had to be there to fully appreciate the ideas and information they presented, but if I had to boil it down into a brief summary, what they all talked about is that big and important changes are upon us — such as the emergence of new technologies like driverless vehicles or the growing influence of millennials in the workforce — and if companies continue to cling to yesterday’s best practices instead of thinking of tomorrow’s “next practices,” then they will get left behind. Or as Josh Linkner put it, the creative will beat the complacent in the years ahead.

Tom Albrecht, Managing Director at BB&T Capital Markets shared his outlook of the transportation market — in short, a lot of factors are leading to weak demand today, including the current state of commodities, but he expects supply and demand to balance out by the end of the year, with capacity maybe tightening in 2017. And in a panel discussion, several carriers shared their perspective of the market, including what keeps them up at night: labor and regulations.

Chris Johnson, Chief Technology Officer at LeanLogistics, highlighted some of the new solutions the company delivered this past year, as well as those it plans to roll out in the coming months. He began by reviewing the five elements of LeanLogistics’ product strategy:

  1. User Experience and Effectiveness
  2. BI Enablement for Actionable Intelligence
  3. Unified Workflow for All Transportation
  4. Innovation Lab Leveraging Services
  5. Canopy of Visibility

Over the past few months, I’ve seen the fruits of this strategy in demos of the company’s newest solutions, LeanGlobal and LeanFleet. First, the user interface and experience of these solutions are noticeably improved over what was standard in the transportation management systems (TMS) market just 2-3 years ago. One great example is built-in tutorials. Are you a new user and don’t know how to create a new load in the TMS? Click on the tutorial link and the system walks you through the process, just like you might find in a consumer application.

For more on LeanLogistics’ perspective on user experience, including how the company uses eye-tracking software to gather insights on how users interact with their solutions, check out the video clips below from my recent conversation with Josh Hunt, Director of Integration Software Systems at LeanLogistics:

How is “the consumerization of business applications” coming along? What types of improvements have been made to user interfaces and how are user benefiting?

On the use of eye-tracking software to gather insights on user behavior:

Second, as I wrote about earlier this month in The Transportation Management System Barbell, LeanLogistics is moving aggressively to create a unified workflow for all transportation. The addition of global and fleet management capabilities in recent months are just the beginning. Later this year, the company will formally roll out LeanParcel, with rail and air cargo capabilities on the roadmap too. Chris also highlighted several backend IT projects the company has completed or is working on, including projects focused on disaster recovery, accelerating software upgrades and integration processes, and the ability to populate data marts in real time.

There may not be any more sacred cows at LeanLogistics, but it seems to me like the company is going back to its roots in many ways — that is, going back to loving transportation management. Some of that love or focus was arguably diluted following its acquisition by Brambles in 2008, but with some of the original executives back at the helm, LeanLogistics has certainly regained its momentum, as evidenced by its strong growth and what I’m hearing from customers. If the company remains true to its philosophy, it will discover where to go next by listening to its customers and employees, and if getting there means disrupting its business, then it’s better to do it proactively than being forced to change by a competitor.