Specializing in research and insights, Ian is a member of the Strategy team here at RevUnit. He is a writer, content creator and digital strategist who is passionate about driving the narrative of products, brands, experiences, and people
You’ve probably read the headlines:
Digital Transformation: Are you prepared?
Eight Ways Fortune 500 Companies Are Transforming—And How You Can, TooDisrupt or Die! How Innovation Can Save Your Failing Company
Okay, that last one was a little harsh.
The truth is, things are changing—fast. This is especially true in the Transportation and Logistics (T&L) industry. T&L companies are facing an era of unprecedented disruption ignited by emerging technologies and evolving customer expectations, and Digital Transformation (DT) is driving the disruption. It’s the digitization of process, products, and assets to improve efficiency, enhance customer value, manage risk, and uncover new monetization opportunities.
While this sounds great, not everybody is on the same playing field. Enormous pressures are being put on by incumbents to use digital technology to change the way they conduct business. Most are leveraging digital technologies to power more profitable and scalable business models.
Over the last 2-3 years, more than $1.5 billion has been invested into core T&L startup segments in the U.S. These Disruptors pose a serious threat to established T&L organizations.
All that is to say that there’s a need for change. Senior T&L leaders have a decision to make - either transform or die.
As a member of the Strategy team at at RevUnit, I’ve amassed quite a bit of industry research that led us to examine disruptors who are making shifts in how businesses fundamentally operate—often creating better, more successful models for the rest of the industry to follow.
Here are four organizations in T&L that we believe are disruptors to watch:
The phrase, “the Uber of _______” often comes up in conversations around disruption, simply because many new organizations are using a Network Orchestration model where they deliver value through relationships. These companies create a platform that participants use to transact with the many other members of the network. In Convoy’s case, they’ve built a digital freight brokerage that matches trucking companies with shippers that need to move freight. This is done through its own algorithm that connects shippers with truck drivers effectively. The company works with 450 shippers, but utilizes a national network of more than 20,000 carriers to carry out the shipping service. Since its inception in 2015, Convoy has raised a cool $80 million in funding from investors including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. Lastly, the company raised $185 million in funding from Google parent company Alphabet Inc.—bringing its valuation to upwards of $1 billion in late 2018.
Of the four disruptors we’ve outlined here, Peloton would be the best fit in the Jetsons’ pipe-dream vision of the future. The California-based company promises boosts in safety and fuel efficiency for its users via a “collision mitigation system.” In this model, one driver is able to command a “platoon” of trucks across long distances via active safety systems via Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC). Peloton avoids the drastic driver shortage problem in T&L by navigating around it; one driver can command many trucks, which means fuel savings for 4-5 percent for the lead truck, and 10 percent for the second truck. Currently, Peloton is struggling with legislation for commercial deployment of “platooning,” but, so far, 18 states are onboard. The company is working on expanding that number, and hopes to jump into fully autonomous trucking as that technology continues to develop.
It’s important to note the size, complexity, and scale of the T&L industry. We shouldn’t overlook shipping, which has seen sizable growth in the last two years with the proliferation of ecommerce that’s driven by giants like Amazon and Walmart. Like Convoy, Roadie uses the Network Orchestration model, but puts it in the consumers’ hands; Roadie is the “on-the-way” shipping service that uses an algorithm to match people and businesses with couriers who are already heading the right direction. Since it was founded in 2015, Roadie’s network has grown to more than 50,000 drivers, and it’s delivered to more than 9,000 cities (more than Amazon Prime!). Roadie was recently selected as one of four partners to partner with Walmart to pilot grocery delivery, and hopes to eclipse 80,000 drivers in 2019.
Last-mile delivery is a pain point many T&L organizations are trying to mitigate. Bringg’s logistics management system (LMS) has alleviated some of those pains. With companies such as Walmart and McDonald’s as users, Bringg’s SaaS-based customer-centric logistics platform enables businesses to optimize on-demand and last-mile deliveries. A good example of this is the Spark delivery operation that Walmart launched late last year. According to TechCrunch, it “gives the company the ability to optimize driver schedules, automatically dispatch orders, allow drivers to communicate their availability and in turn communicate to drivers by way of smart alerts to make sure deliveries are picked up, queued and delivered on time.”
Bringg recently raised $25 million in funding. Investors are interested in Bringg because of its data transparency and automation. It equips companies with an Amazon-like toolbox of logistics services. With the global logistics market predicted to grow to $15.5 trillion by 2023, we think Bringg is one to watch.
As you’ve noticed—there are plenty of opportunities for disruption in the T&L industry. RevUnit believes these are the major players to watch over the next few years, whether it’s a platoon of trucks piloted by one person, or simply a marketplace to pair drivers and shippers. Take note of the strategies these disruptors use to leverage tech within the core of their businesses. Yours may depend on it.
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