Guest Post: The Uberization of Trucking
Uber’s taxi service is cool, right? Moving dots on a map tell you the location of the nearest taxi. Hop in and off you go, without handling cash. And now venture investors have placed bets that the $60 billion truck brokerage industry of agents and phones can be disrupted with applications like Uber.
So what is the Uber magic anyway? Three things: 1) set up, 2) transact, 3) done. Uber is first and foremost a logistics application, one that eliminates transaction friction and makes better use of assets. The current truck shortage is the biggest real-time asset problem in America needing a smart, uncluttered answer. The current state of industry technology? Unfilterable bulletin boards, incomprehensible transportation management software that requires training to use, no price information and everyone drowning in paper. It is no wonder 30% of backhauls go empty.
Set-Up is about simplifiying and automating the complexity of a transaction and placing it behind the scenes so that the transaction is front and center. To do that you need great data and handling, standard processes and documents, and of course, real time location. Transact is the real Uber magic. It’s genius Uber Experience (UX) that places the complex stuff behind the scenes and makes it effortless for users to oft in and hit “go.” UX will be a brand new competency required of logistics professionals to compete going forward. Done is realtime location that means trace for mobile dispatch, time-stamped delivery and accrued detention, putting “fuel surcharges” (a catch-all for additional brokerage charges) on death notice. Better visiblilty means actionable data for enterprises, better margins, shorter miles, and the chance to be home for dinner.
Once all this Uber magic is in place, hard to do by the way, carriers get more offers, shippers get faster, cheaper shipments. That broker taking the most out of a transaction with an unknown spread fee becomes a relic.