Transportation Forecasting: Time to Give It Another Look

Transportation Forecasting — which basically takes demand forecasting, promotions, point of sale data, and other demand signals to create a forecast of transportation requirements — is one of those ‘white spaces’ in transportation management systems.

I said that back in 2013 in a Talking Logistics episode titled, “Revisiting Transportation Forecasting.” Rather than repeat myself here, I encourage you to watch the episode, embedded below, for my perspective and advice on the topic.

A few years later, in March 2016, e2open (a Talking Logistics sponsor) acquired Terra Technology, one of the first providers of transportation forecasting capabilities. I discussed the topic with Gary Barraco from e2open in a February 2020 Talking Logistics episode, “The What, Why, And How Of Transportation Forecasting.”

Fast forward to today: Mike Mulqueen from JBF Consulting highlights in a LinkedIn post that “Oracle is building out the ability to generate and disseminate short-term (2-4 week), lane-level forecasts to their carriers. The forecast will leverage both historic information (e.g. seasonality), as well as supply chain planning forecasts, to generate the lane level forecasts for a shipper’s TL carriers. This enhanced visibility will allow carriers more time to plan in the event of volume surges or lulls in lane volumes.”

As I discussed in the 2013 episode, there are many benefits to transportation forecasting, but also some “change management” hurdles to overcome. That is why transportation forecasting still remains a “white space” in transportation management today — that is, an opportunity that shippers and carriers haven’t fully explored and exploited.  

Has the time finally arrived for transportation forecasting to become a standard practice?

Like in so many other cases, technology sometimes gets too far ahead of what companies are ready or willing to implement — especially when multiple stakeholders are involved to make it work (in this case, shippers and carriers).

But we are not in 2013 any more. The volatility and uncertainty of the past few years in the transportation market has led many shippers and carriers to question the status quo (“the way we’ve always done it”) and seek new opportunities to reduce costs, improve service, minimize risks, and just work smarter.

I think it’s time to give transportation forecasting another look. What do you think?