Supply Chain Expertise and Technology Blog by TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson

Don’t Let the Hype Eclipse the Cloud

Transportation Management System technology

A year or so ago, we were getting a lot of questions about cloud computing.  What is it? What are the benefits? Why is it a best practice? Today, some of you are asking the same questions…. But more than that, how many of you are just sick of all the commercials keying cloud computing?

In October 2009, I posted a blog eloquently titled “Cloud Computing” (notice the sarcasm?) to address everyone’s questions. Today, annoying commercials or not, I think the overwhelming prevalence of these ads really just underscore that this topic is as relevant as ever.

As it pertains to operations in transportation management and TMS, it seems that many shippers view business intelligence, delivered via the cloud, as a white space in the category.

Beyond TMS and specific to business intelligence in general, I recently read a report from James Robbins of Accenture, stating “High-performance businesses — those that substantially outperform competitors over the long-term and across economic cycles — are five times more likely to use analytics strategically compared to their peers.”

Accenture also conducted a survey of 600 executives at more than 500 top organizations in the United States and United Kingdom and their research found, just over one-third (35%) of U.S. respondents said they apply analytics in their operations area. Given the clear need for analytics, business intelligence tools and specific to the technology available today via cloud computing, I thought I’d talk a little bit about BI and analytics via the cloud and why we think it helps you to achieve your goals faster.

Visible and Accessible

First off, it’s about visibility and ease of access. In particular, cloud computing supports the collaboration necessary to manage local, regional, and global supply chains. The information is delivered over the internet in an on-demand manner –how you want it, when you want it. Furthermore, large multinational companies that once had to piece together reports from different continents and deal with related language, currency, availability, and even resource challenges now have the information available at their fingertips.

Return, without the investment?

Okay, there is some investment, but nothing compared to the budgets consumed by traditional IT technology deployments. Typical BI or non-SaaS models require heavy capital outlay on various items including hardware, licenses, and implementation fees. Cloud computing or SaaS models typically limit your investment to just implementation fees and these fees are also much lower than in a traditional TMS deployment. Why? The time to implement is much faster which lowers your fees and speeds your time to ROI. Plus, you gain the benefit of the larger client community. In other words, if you deliver your data in a standard format, you gain the benefit of the reports that are already built.

Not Just Fast, but also Flexible

I know, now who is starting to sound like a commercial? The speed to ROI, however, is real and those of you who spent or still spend their careers steeped in reporting tools will understand what I am taking about. These tools tend to be very user friendly. In addition, they quickly and easily allow users to deploy the information on their terms – change views, create new reports, drill down to more detailed information, and overall to use the business intelligence in an analytical manner. It’s not just the users who benefit though. If you have technical or IT staff it’s also easy for them to make changes or incorporate updates on the fly.

Many of you have used our business intelligence tools and experienced the cloud (whether you knew it or not). Others perhaps are newer to the tools. In either case, stay informed on cloud computing. Maybe the annoying commercials will go away — but the technology? It’2013-05-22 19:24:14’s here to stay.

- President, Managed Services
Linkedin Profile