Digital Supply Chain Series: Partnering with the right freight analytics provider

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With a market turn coming in 2024, it’s time for shippers to prioritize the power of freight data. Implementing data-driven decision-making across key supply chain functions is critical to planning for market volatility. However, it’s important to remember that leveraging internal data alone isn’t enough to effectively navigate the evolving nature of spot/contract rates, demand volatility, supply chain disruptions, mini-bids, and carrier relationships.

Partnering with a third-party analytics provider gives context by augmenting that internal data with timely freight market intelligence from the broader market. This generates real-time visibility into how a shipper’s freight network is performing in comparison to industry peers. With the right mix of external and internal insights, shippers can make proactive decisions around contract negotiations, cost allocation, budget performance, capacity management, risk mitigation, carrier relationships, and more. There are several different freight analytics providers on the market today — all of which have different capabilities, specializations, and objectives. Like any IT investment, shippers must navigate the provider assessment process with a proactive and calculated approach. Partnering with the right provider empowers organizations to optimize logistics operations, build supply chain resilience, and gain ground on industry competitors. It also provides an essential source of balance when market volatility is high. 

Keys for vendor assessment

Navigating the vendor assessment process requires a firm understanding of what to prioritize. Keep these considerations top of mind while evaluating freight analytics providers to help identify the right partner for your organization. 

Define your specific requirements
Before diving into the selection process, it’s crucial to clearly define your specific requirements and objectives. Consider factors such as the volume of your freight, the number of fleets by region, the complexity of your supply chain ecosystem, and the specific metrics or insights you aim to achieve. By having a clear understanding of these needs, you can effectively evaluate potential providers and select the one that best aligns with your transportation network.

Prioritize data integration
Ensure that your  freight analytics provider has the capability to integrate and analyze data from various sources within your supply chain ecosystem. The ability to consolidate and analyze disparate transportation management system (TMS) data sets generates a bird’s eye view of your operations that enables better cross-functional decision-making. With data from more than $150 billion in transactions annually and market insights on over 68,000 lanes, DAT offers more data and insights than any other platform on the market.

Consider scalability and flexibility
Consider the scalability and flexibility of the freight analytics solution. As your business grows and your supply chain evolves, the analytics provider should be able to accommodate increasing data volumes and adapt to changing requirements. Verify that the provider has a proven track record of serving shippers with similar needs and can scale alongside your business. DAT serves a vast collection of enterprise shipper customers differentiating in size and sector — ranging from manufacturing, retail and CPG to wholesale trade, chemical production, and more.

Evaluate industry experience and expertise
Evaluate the provider’s industry experience and expertise in freight analytics. Look for references or case studies that demonstrate their success in delivering actionable insights and driving tangible results. An experienced provider will understand the nuances and challenges of the transportation and logistics industry and can offer tailored solutions to address your specific pain points. Since 1978, DAT has been the source of market trends and data insight solutions for shippers, brokers, carriers, media, and industry analysts alike. In 2023, 13 of Gartner’s Top 25 Global Supply Chains leveraged DAT data.

Look for user-friendly interfaces
A user-friendly interface and intuitive reporting capabilities are essential for the effective utilization of freight analytics. The platform should provide simplified visualizations, customizable dashboards, and timely reporting capabilities. This empowers your team to access and interpret the analytics insights effortlessly, enabling quick decision-making and fostering collaboration across departments. DAT iQ products are uniquely designed for ease-of-use and streamlined functionality.

The importance of data transparency

Above all, your freight analytics provider should be transparent about how their data is collected and where it’s pulled from. Many providers claim to provide reliable insights, but the data source and engines powering an analytics platform will determine its real impact. If the data doesn’t reflect recent and long-term transportation market conditions, it will fail to deliver the context shippers need to navigate volatility.

Data should be pulled from multiple industries and segments to avoid any specific sources skewing freight predictions. For example, if data is over-representative of large retailers who partner with national carriers, then the view of the market will be skewed in that direction. If only EDI data is used, then it will be biased toward large fleets and shippers since most fleets on the road today comprise less than 20 trucks.

In addition, it’s important to keep in mind that different vendors have different objectives. Third-party logistics providers (3PL) and media companies often have underlying motives for the data they present. Leveraging freight data to shape a particular view of the market could help them drive sales in other areas of their business. Your analytics provider should be mission-oriented and only focused on objectively informing shippers with accurate and actionable freight market intelligence.

DAT iQ equips shippers with the most accurate and actionable insights into past, present, and future freight rates, allowing them to quote customers quickly and stay profitable with the most up-to-date market prices available. Furthermore, shippers can gain insights into their network, find new lanes to prioritize areas that deliver the most impact and repair the areas that are most at risk, and align rates with current market trends. Accurate rate insights add transparency to carrier negotiations and help navigate volatile markets by utilizing the latest rates and AI-enabled forecasting tools.

Contact us today to learn more about how dynamic freight market intelligence from DAT iQ helps shippers navigate market volatility. 


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