Data-Driven Decision Making: Real-time Transportation Market Intelligence

How can companies unlock new value in transportation management? By becoming more data driven in their decision making.

That is the focus of a multi-part video seminar we are producing in partnership with Transporeon (a Talking Logistics sponsor) on data-driven decision making. The seminar is based on the research report “From Gut Feelings to Data-Driven Decision Making: How to Unlock New Value in Transportation Management.”

The first session was on Real-time Transportation Market Intelligence. Why is it important? How can companies use this market intelligence to improve their transportation operations? What is the business case and how do you get started?

Those are the main questions I explored with Rob Moen, Truck Lead at Cargill, and Mark Schueller, Business Development Manager, Market Intelligence at Transporeon. I encourage you to watch the full video for all of their insights and advice, but here are some highlights from our conversation.

Why is having real-time transportation market intelligence important?

As you might expect from a company as diversified and global as Cargill, its transportation operations span almost all modes, including trucking, rail, barge, and ocean. Within trucking, Cargill utilizes different types of equipment too, including temperature-controlled, palletized, and bulk.

With so much complexity and volatility in the transportation market today, “we want to be more data-driven because there is simply no time to try to [figure it out] yourself,” said Rob. “We need to have data at our fingertips.”

“We need to know if we are competitive with the market,” he added. “Transportation is a large component of the cost of goods sold.” In today’s market where transport prices continue to fluctuate and securing capacity is sometimes a challenge, “the business [senior leadership] is asking us on a more frequent basis how we compare to the rest of the market.”

Having real-time market intelligence helps Sales, for example, have data-based conversations with customers to explain what is happening; it also helps them to develop the right strategy moving forward to secure capacity at the right price for the company. 

Considering how quickly the market changes, “if I compare myself today versus the market, it has a value for all my stakeholders within Cargill,” says Rob. “Next month, however, that benchmark is obsolete,” which is why having ongoing access to market data is important.

What types of data/metrics/insights are companies looking for?

“Most of our clients want (as real-time as possible) contract and spot market data, with the latter becoming more important today,” says Mark. This includes both price and capacity data, and they want data “at the most granular level in order to understand the dynamics of the market and be able to compare themselves regularly with the market and peer groups.”

Mark adds that companies also want to understand why rates are going up or down in certain markets and lanes, or why capacity is getting tighter. “If possible, they want the ability to anticipate these types of trends, or at least recognize them at a very early stage” in order to take proactive action, says Mark.

Rob, Mark, and I discussed other questions, including:

How is Cargill using real-time transportation market intelligence in its operations? Who uses the data and how? What have been some of the benefits achieved to date?

What is the overall business case for using real-time transportation market intelligence? In what ways are your customers realizing business value from it?

What advice would you give to other companies that are looking to use real-time transportation market intelligence? How should they get started? What should they look for in a solution? Any mistakes they should avoid?

Again, I encourage you to watch the full video for all their insights and advice. Then post a comment and share your perspective and questions about this topic.