Stuck at 33%: The True State of TMS Deployment

When I first started researching the transportation management systems (TMS) market more than 18 years ago, industry analysts (including me) often stated that only 33% of companies had implemented a TMS. Fast forward to today and the same statistic is still being quoted. For example, according to an article published last month by Logistics Management, “Transportation management solutions have been around for a while, but the most recent survey of Logistics Management readers shows that just 35% of shippers are using these systems as part of their overall supply chain management strategies.”

Has TMS adoption really been stuck at 33-35% over the past 18 years? If so, why no progress? Where did the original data point come from? Is it even possible to know, with any statistical confidence, the true market penetration of transportation management systems?

All debatable questions, primarily for analysts and vendors to wrestle with. But for users of TMS solutions — manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and logistics service providers (3PLs) — those questions don’t matter much. What they should question, first and foremost, is their status quo:

Do we still need to use two, three, or four different TMS applications to manage our transportation operations?

Do we continue to invest in our own proprietary solution or should we evaluate third-party solutions to see if they’re now able to meet our current and foreseeable future needs?

Is the TMS we implemented five, seven, or ten years ago still best-in-class and aligned with our requirements moving forward or are there newer, more sophisticated solutions we should consider?

Are we on the most current version of our TMS? If not, why haven’t we upgraded? Should we implement a new version or application in-house or deploy a cloud solution?

Why are we still using faxes and paper invoices in our operations? How quickly and accurately can we answer “Where’s my shipment or truck?” and “How much did we spend on transportation today or this week, this month, this quarter, or this year?”

What is the true state of TMS deployment? Each company has to answer that question for itself.

There are companies of all sizes that have no systems in place, others that are using proprietary or third-party solutions that are outdated and need to be upgraded or replaced, and still others (probably in the minority) that have the perfect TMS for their current and future needs.

Which category do you fall in?

Stay tuned for upcoming research on transportation management systems, which will provide insights, analysis, and advice about the vendor landscape, new product innovations, and what it takes to get the most value and benefits from a TMS from companies that are already leading the way.

In the meantime, for related commentary, see Why Are Companies Replacing Their TMS? and 4 Questions Before Investing in a Transportation Management Solution.