One of those axioms for success you always hear as a product manager is "Know your customer." So when TransCore brought me onboard in June to help ensure that our products integrate successfully with other companies' Transportation Management Systems (TMS), I wanted to learn more about the issues faced by our customers, including:
1. How widespread is TMS use among brokers and carriers?
2. Which are the most popular TMS programs?
3. How much do customers care about real-time integration of core services into the TMS?
I sent an online survey to a broad cross-section of our customers, and got an enthusiastic response along with some interesting results:
TMS is widely used. While I was not surprised to find that all the big enterprise-class companies use a TMS, usually a custom-designed system, it turned out that a large majority of small to mid-size carriers and brokerage companies have a TMS, too. For small shops with fewer than 10 trucks or 5 brokers, that number exceeded 60%. Among the mid-size firms, more than 75% have a TMS. Those numbers were higher than I would have guessed.
Customers are satisfied with their TMS solutions. Customers who use a commercial TMS, as opposed to a home-grown system, are largely satisfied with the solution. Brokers were looking for additional support, and they wanted more options to integrate external services and data sources. That last bit is part of my job, so I found this news encouraging.
Integration is rated "very important." The survey respondents see a lot of value in integrating key functionality into their TMS. A majority considered it "very important" to be able to post and search for loads and trucks in real time, directly from their TMS, for example. Again that was great news for me personally and professionally, since that's why I'm here at TransCore!
While I realize I can't learn everything I want to know in a single survey, I took away some great insights into our customers' needs. I've been talking to customers regularly about their needs, and many of their ideas are already influencing our plans to improve and broaden integration of TransCore's data and services with the products offered by other companies. I'll blog more about our plans in the future, so watch this space!