Years ago when I worked at Accenture, I participated in a innovation contest sponsored by the United States Postal Service (USPS) account that I was on. The goal was to cultivate innovative ideas that USPS could leverage (or Accenture could use to sell additional work).
Looking back at that competition and thinking about my idea, it is still pretty valid. With the advancements in wireless, mobile and IoT, I would like to revisit and update my pitch.
After graduating from Morehouse College, I started a transportation company. It would be considered a Mom & Pop operation. The data at the time had some eye popping numbers.
In Transportation & Logistics:
- 90%+ of the companies are 30 trucks or less (Mom & Pop)
- that would be approximately 500k+ companies
- most of the technology that supports that industry is expensive and usually is targeted towards larger enterprises.
- at that time there were a lot of copying, faxing and using excel spreadsheets to provide analytics
USPS runs one, if not the, largest logistics operation in the world. Why not leverage the best practices and technical systems that have been created to offer a Software as a Service (SaaS) product to the 500k smaller logistic companies.
e.g. Think what Amazon did with Amazon Web Services (AWS) but for the logistics industry.
USPS could influence the logistics market from the bottom up to offer:
- Bid on USPS Loads
- Ship via USPS
- Driver Information
- Maintenance and Expense Tracking
- Routing Software
- Legal (IFTA, Driver Logs, etc)
All of these things are all logistic companies do on a daily basis but how much would this be worth? My pitch at the time would be 10% of the addressable market at $500 a month (or $6,000 a year). For USPS it would be potentially $25m a month in new revenue. (My next blog post might be announcing the launch of this actual product, lol.)
Whether or not this idea was possible, it sure sounded good and it was enough for me to share top honors with Blake Byrnes’ pitch for free first class mail driven by advertisement.
2015 Pitch and Advancements
Every so often I spend some time on Google to see if anyone has filled this lane for the smaller logistic companies. There are a few companies out there that have some solid offerings, but I really feel like a big fish should tackle this problem. USPS, FedEx, DHL, UPS or Walmart Labs could all benefit from a meaningful offering that empowers the smaller logistic companies. Also for those companies still using mainframes, its a reason to migrate off and into the 21st century of computing.
So, the core of my pitch remains the same but now we have advancements in technology that we can leverage.
No More Paper (mobile, mobile, mobile)
Let’s get rid of the paper all together, except for maybe post-it notes. Everything now happens digitally albeit on a computer or mobile device. Book the load, dispatch to the driver, proof of delivery, driver logs, fuel receipts all happen on a device.
Now we can leverage a few things thanks to the advancement in wireless networks and device computing power:
- GPS: Dispatch can know exactly where a driver is. As a driver I can leverage FREE mapping solutions for directions. Although, one would probably want to leverage a mapping solution that provides routes for large over the road trucks.
- Calendar/Notifications: Dispatched loads can be place directly on a drivers calendar with alerts for delivery times. It would not be hard to provide notifications so all parties involved based on weather and/or traffic data automatically. No need for the driver to call 5 minutes before delivery only to tell you that they are late and stuck in traffic.
- Proof of Delivery: Drivers can now take pictures of the trailer being sealed, the breaking of the seal and unloading of the truck. Also, the driver can capture signature of delivery directly on their mobile device. This means that we can invoice before the driver pulls out of the docks. Save time and money by not requiring the driver to return to the yard to drop off paperwork.
- Payment: With SDKs from Paypal, Stripe and Elevon I want my money now, not 30-45 days later. At least send an automatic email when the payment has occurred so that we can better track accounts receivables.
My initial feeling still remains, a large enterprise with focus in logistics needs to throw it’s weight and budget around. I believe taking the air out of the room and providing a feature-rich offering to the industry could be an effectively way to save time, paper, fuel and road wear. Who knows, a big name player could already be working on this. In the mean time I will continue to revisit this idea and wait to pitch it to the right company.