Hoping to help IT shops in the transportation industry better manage supply chains and compliance risk, Oracle has delivered an improved version of its Transportation Management product, along with a new product to help importers and exporters meet compliance requirements.
An important advantage version 6.1 of the company’s Transportation Management package offers is the ability to help a company manage both its own private fleet of trucks or cars and those it manages for third parties, something Oracle executives claim is a first in the transportation industry.
“A lot of companies in the fleet management world use a mix of their own vehicles plus third party providers like independent trucking companies where they need two platforms," said Derek Gittoes, vice president in charge of Oracle’s Logistics Product strategy. "This system requires only one, which cuts down on costs and allows you to manage or plan the utilization of vehicles more effectively.”
Another important improvement in Oracle’s transportation management software was made to the product’s real-time communication capability that now allows drivers to communicate directly with dispatchers. For instance, this can help fleet dispatchers to drive process efficiencies by automating shipment monitoring and so better determine whether a particular event requires action.
“Having direct access to dispatchers in central offices gives both parties more visibility to the range of basic activities they are engaged in, like where to go next and what they are picking up,” Gittoes said.
Oracle also added extensions to the product to improve sourcing, planning, financial settlements, and the ability to see across several modes of transportation, including the ability to address sometimes complex ocean bids.
Analysts think some of the improvements made in 6.1 are necessary for user companies in the transportation industry, particularly the ability to look at the big picture.
“These global transportation management systems can give shippers and logistics service providers a holistic view into insightful and actionable information,” said Dwight Klappich, research vice president with Gartner. “The information is typically not only essential in controlling costs and managing assets but can be important in enhancing the environmental sustainability of freight sector companies.”
In concert with the updated version of Transportation Management package, Oracle also introduced the premier version of its Global Trade Management package, a centralized solution for user organizations to gain more visibility of their transactions across borders and to help them stay in compliance with a range of regulatory policies.
The Trade Management package is built on the same platform as the Transportation Management product and is designed to work in concert with it.
“With this product [Trade Management], because it can run on the same platform as the Transportation product, we can help companies get down to a single application platform for both functions, which is going to save cost-conscious companies more money,” Gittoes said.
Some users conducting international business are seeing an increased need for both packages to reduce costs and help them stay in compliance, but they say they will hold off on such buying decisions until later this year or next, hoping an improved economy will drive sales higher.
“The benefits from an administrative and implementation standpoint seem pretty straightforward and should add some value," said John Levy, purchasing agent for a trucking company based in Houston. "I’d like to see the business within and outside the borders pick up before I could consider something like this.”
Some users, however, anticipate enough short- and long-term value from the two packages to make a commitment now.
“The [Transportation] Management can provide us with a global platform to manage asset- and non-asset-based lines of business,” said Ted Gifford, a distinguished member on the technical staff of Schneider National. “This sort of insight on a single platform should help us reduce costs and become more efficient.”