“Cloud-Enabled TMS” – Like Bolting Propellers to a Mail Truck

The world is anticipating a revolution in the shopping/consumer experience as the technology seems nearly ready for widespread drone delivery of online purchases.  Oddly, none of the traditional parcel delivery companies are rushing to bolt propellers and wings to their panel vans.  There simply isn’t much demand for three ton, flying mail trucks.  Similarly, when it comes to TMS solutions, there are still many organizations (either willingly or unwittingly) comfortable with an equally absurd proposition: implementing cloud-enabled TMS solutions (old school on-premise applications skinned with a web-enabling interface) instead of cloud-native ones.  Why?

Just because a process, practice or technology was once the pinnacle of achievement at the cutting edge of its industry, there’s no good argument for embracing it once a new paradigm has supplanted it at the forefront.  Look no further than the decision to engage a web-enabled TMS solution instead of today’s cloud-based TMS options.  The market leaders from a generation ago were all on-premise solutions.  But the advent of cloud computing changed everything.  Many leading names in TMS software are still on-premise solutions that – having realized the fundamental shift in technology and customer preference – built web interfaces to skin their aging offerings.  This is like putting propellers on a mail truck.

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Old-school solutions will require ever-greater levels of effort to remain effective in their non-native environment.  In the end, they’ll grow increasingly unable to flex and adapt at the rate necessary to help their users stay competitive.

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Solutions built from the outset to be native to the web (or cloud solutions if you prefer the modern jargon) are almost always faster than their web-enabled counterparts which is better for end users.  Web native solutions are what your IT people may refer to as “thin” clients meaning they require minimal network requirements, which is better for busy IT departments who aren’t interested in supporting yet another implementation.  Because the cloud-based TMS delivers full functionality from a web browser without the need for the organization to buy the software and hardware to run it, the associated costs are greatly reduced which thrills the CFO.

Web-enabled logistics solutions may provide the ability to access the tools using a web browser, but the main portion of the software resides on an on-premise server while the web-enabling piece runs on each user’s computer.  This makes changes/upgrades difficult because administrators must not only update the server, but each user computer as well.  Add to this the typical per-user license fees charged by the web-enabled providers and you can see how the costs start to pile up.

Additionally, all the newest logistics IT tools and services – from rating engines to track-n-trace automation to order management systems and more – are built with web APIs and leading cloud technology.  See this recent InformationWeek article that illustrates how serverless applications are the future.  The article makes it clear that all the innovation driving the future state of enterprise software is happening in the web-native environment.  As this trend continues, old-school solutions will require ever-greater levels of effort to remain effective in their non-native environment.  In the end, they’ll grow increasingly unable to flex and adapt at the rate necessary to help their users stay competitive.  In short, they’ll be about as effective as a mail truck with a propeller bolted to it.

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