McLeod Expands Data Analytics, Introduces New Web User Interface

McLeod CEO Tom McLeod outlines product updates and industry trends at the 2022 McLeod Software user conference. (Seth Clevenger/Transport Topics)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — McLeod Software is expanding its data analytics and business intelligence capabilities along with other tools designed to help its carrier and freight broker customers navigate an uncertain business environment.

The provider of transportation management software also announced plans to roll out a new web-based user interface across its PowerBroker and LoadMaster product lines in the next few years.

At the company’s 2022 user conference, held here Sept. 25-27, CEO Tom McLeod pointed to mixed signals for the trucking industry, including rising truck tonnage and less pressure on driver recruiting and retention, but looser capacity and freight rate volatility.



He also cited high inflation, rising interest rates and recent declines in U.S. gross domestic product, along with disruptions caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine and some analysts’ predictions of an economic recession on the horizon.

While all this uncertainty presents challenges for businesses, he reminded attendees that it also can enable well-positioned companies to gain an edge over their competitors if they are properly prepared.

“Uncertainty and disruption create opportunity,” McLeod said.

McLeod Software’s aim, he said, is to equip its customers with the information and technology capabilities they will need to prepare for whatever disruptions the future might hold.

“It’s our goal to help you run a better operation — to up your game and take your company to the next level,” McLeod said.

To help do that, the company has expanded its service and support staff and ramped up its investments in technology development. McLeod Software has grown to more than 600 employees and reinvests about 30% of its product revenue each year back into product development, McLeod said.

The company said its annual user conference drew more than 1,500 attendees this year, the most in the event’s history.

On the product development front, McLeod is investing in data science and machine learning to help customers better understand industry trends and make better business decisions.

One example is more decision support for pricing. The company’s MPact Pro product, introduced in April, is designed to give fleets and brokers deeper insights into market rate dynamics.

McLeod

“If you charge too much, you lose out on freight that you would otherwise win,” McLeod said. “If you price it too low, you’re leaving money on the table that you need to have for the sustainability and the health of your company.”

McLeod plans to add other artificial intelligence and machine learning functionality in the future, including operations support and predictive pricing capabilities that project rate trends a few days into the future.

Meanwhile, McLeod’s new web browser user interface will not merely be a new “skin” for its software but will open the door to an improved user experience, McLeod said.

“We’re taking the time to completely re-engineer workflows and completely re-engineer role-based processes to take full advantage of the new user interface,” he said.

The first release of the new interface will be PowerBroker Web. A core group of early adopters will implement PowerBroker Web in the next couple months, with a general release to follow in early 2023 for all McLeod customers that wish to upgrade their systems.

From there, McLeod plans to extend the new web-based user interface across its entire product line, including LoadMaster and LoadMaster LTL, in the next couple years.

McLeod also has been working to expand and improve technology integrations with other vendors.

The company has introduced an open application programming interface, or API, to serve as a streamlined integration point for mobile communications systems, electronic logging devices and trailer monitoring systems.

The first two integrations deployed through this open API are Isaac Instruments’ tractor telematics and driver workflow system and TGI Connect’s trailer telematics technology.

McLeod also continues to grow its business process automation capabilities. The company has added Carrier Invoice Processing, a new feature in its Logix Solutions product line, to help freight brokers and third-party logistics providers more efficiently collect, index and match carrier documents electronically to accelerate the carrier payment process.

Addressing another key industry topic, McLeod said transportation companies appear to be making progress in their efforts to defend against cyberattacks. The company has noted a significant decline in cybersecurity incidents among its customer base, with the frequency of such incidents dropping to less than one per month now after seeing roughly one per week just three or four years ago, he said.

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Meanwhile, more transportation companies have been moving their software applications from on-premises systems to the cloud. McLeod said 27% of the company’s customers are now utilizing McLeod’s cloud computing services to host and deliver applications.

McLeod also discussed emerging commercial vehicle technologies such as battery-electric and hydrogen-powered trucks, which will factor into the broader push to reduce emissions.

“Some of your shippers have carbon reduction initiatives and they want you to be a contributor,” he said.

At the same time, McLeod continues to engage in conversations with autonomous truck developers, many of which are focused on automating certain hub-to-hub lanes as they continue to test and refine their self-driving systems.

“We are standing by to interface with those companies,” he said.

 

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