On a cool morning in Nashville, I placed a to-go order at the Waffle House off Tennessee 155. Then I walked over and knocked on the door of a private bus. A red-headed stranger opened the door. “Here’s your breakfast Willie,” I said.“Come on in,” he smiled, “I made a pot of coffee.”
I asked him how he came to write his signature song “On the Road Again.” He told me he wrote it on a cocktail napkin while he was on an airplane, not in a truck. But everybody knows life on the road has influenced a lot of Willie Nelson’s work. My personal favorite is “Still is Still Moving to Me.” There is something downright philosophical about that song. While I was there, I installed a computer on Willie’s bus so he could work his new interactive CD-ROM and play computer dominoes. That was 1994. Mobile computing has come a long way since then.
Transportation management software is designed to create efficiency in the movement of goods. But it is still subject to the old adage, “garbage in, garbage out.” If you don’t have the right information, you are in a world of hurt or worse, you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong stuff.
In order to get the right information, you need to make sure you have smooth-running data flows between all of the backend systems involved, from the customer relationship management (CRM) software where a salesperson takes an order to the enterprise resource planning (ERP) softwarewhere the accounts receivable team maintains the bill-to address. When a company uses a solution like Roadnet Transportation Suite for transportation management, it can stay connected to these backend CRM and ERP systems with Magic Software’s iBOLT Integration platform.
Roadnet needs contact information that is up-to-date, complete, accurate and easily accessible. This information is often maintained in ERP and CRM systems. This creates challenges for IT managers tasked with managing all the contact data and other business processes between applications and existing systems. The great thing about the integration platform is that the IT managers can connect the systems without having to write new software. There is no computer programming required.
The Roadnet Transportation Management system adds an element of accountability that helps reduce miles, vehicles and overtime. Some truckers may not like hearing that, but vehicle capacity can also be better managed and in the end, we’re talking about efficiencies that help create a greener planet. That is something everyone can appreciate. With a transportation suite like Roadnet, re-routes can take days not months, and routing time and loading time can be significantly reduced. By working with organizations that use these kinds of technologies, you’re more likely to have happy customers, and happy customers mean repeat business and job security.
Mobile application development is changing too. With a reliable mobile enterprise application platform, programmers can write software that will work on any smartphone (BlackBerry, Android, iPhone, Windows, etc.). So instead of having to change your phone to match the program written by your company, the company can give drivers the option of using the smartphone of their choice.
And what is being called “cloud computing” means that the companies involved don’t have to own expensive hardware. Roadnet Anywhere is a cloud-based solution that can help small fleets achieve the benefits of transportation management systems. With cloud computing in general, you can run software on shared servers where you lease time or simply access software-as-a-service (SaaS) over the Internet. This reduces the cost of owning a transportation management suite or hosting a custom mobile application. Innovation in mobile applications and transportation management software will continue to bring efficiencies as you go on the road again. Of course, we all know that despite the changes in technology with new software, new mobile devices and new cloud-based delivery of information systems, “Still is Still Moving to Me.”
Glenn Johnson is senior vice president at Magic Software Enterprises Americas, where he is responsible for evangelizing cloud architecture, mobile application platforms and integration solutions
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