TMS: Everybody’s Favorite New Partner

Transportation management systems (TMS) have never been more popular — not among shippers, but among other technology vendors and logistics service providers.

Yesterday, for example, C.H. Robinson announced “industry-leading connectivity integrating an unprecedented 19 transportation management systems (TMS) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems into the company’s single, global multimodal transportation management system, Navisphere.” Here are some details from the press release:

This integration offers access to real-time pricing and capacity assurance and nearly eliminates the time required to get market quotes and book loads, making this a virtually instantaneous process. In effect, that saves customers an average of one hour for every shipment. This automation also provides greater flexibility and efficiencies for shippers at a critical time when they are faced with changing customer buying habits and supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19. C.H. Robinson’s digital transactions are up 55% compared to a year ago – reinforcing that customers have a desire to further automate.

Convoy made a similar announcement in recent days too. As reported by Logistics Management:

Seattle-based digital freight network Convoy heralded new partnerships with various transportation management system (TMS) service providers. The TMS partners include: Blue Yonder (previously JDA), FreightPOP, Recon Logistics, Shipwell, and SwanLeap.

Convoy officials said that this announcement now brings its total TMS integrations to 12, which, it added, makes the Convoy digital freight network (DFN) pricing capability the most widely available in the industry,” adding that through the integrations, transportation teams can instantly book backup and spot freight with Convoy’s real-time rates and 100% coverage guarantee, saving thousands of hours annually and up to 21% compared to spot rates.

Over the past year, Uber Freight has announced TMS partnerships/integrations with BluJay Solutions, SAP, MercuryGate, and Oracle

Let’s not forget all of the TMS partnerships announced by project44, FourKites, MacroPoint, Trucker Tools, and other real-time freight visibility providers.

What is going on here? Why so much interest in partnering with TMS providers?

In the case of digital freight brokers and logistics service providers, connecting with multiple TMS solutions boosts their access to shippers and their demand for freight capacity. For real-time freight visibility providers, shippers are demanding those integrations because, as I wrote last year in TMS Visibility: See, Observe, Then Do, “the reason companies want visibility is not just to see and observe, but to do something with the data and insights collected. It’s the doing, the actions taken to improve their transportation and logistics operations, that ultimately delivers value.”

Simply put, transportation management systems are like the athletic kid everybody wants to play with at the playground because they will make your team better and provide you with a better chance of winning.

Or if you prefer a Hamilton analogy, these partners all want to be “in the room where it happens” — that is, they want to be in the app where transportation happens for shippers, which is their TMS.