HOUSTON — Trimble has acquired some of the biggest names in the trucking technology sector over the past several years. Now the global firm is taking steps to more closely unite those businesses, including PeopleNet, TMW Systems, ALK Technologies and 10-4 Systems, to create an end-to-end technology platform under the Trimble brand.
The company will move forward as “one Trimble,” said Bryn Fosburgh, president of Trimble Transportation’s Enterprise division, which includes software firms TMW and ALK.
By acquiring major companies with different but complementary capabilities, Trimble has been assembling a technology ecosystem designed to improve the entire industry workflow from beginning to end, he said.
The opportunity to connect all of those pieces is why Trimble first decided to enter the transportation industry, Fosburgh said in an interview with Transport Topics.
“We believed, like other businesses or industries that we got into, that there’s great value in integrating the work process,” he said. “We think we’re in a unique position because we have all of the pieces that integrate into that ecosystem.”
The company shared this vision with fleet customers on Sept. 10 here at its In.sight User Conference and Expo.
“The point is not to simply bring products to market to address specific challenges in the workflow, but rather to break down the information silos that exist in the workflow and leverage opportunities to provide complete transparency and enable decisions based on good information,” Trimble CEO Steven Berglund said.
To better connect its various product lines, the company’s Transportation group is working to bring all of its capabilities together on a data platform it is calling the Trimble Transportation Cloud.
This cloud will provide a common data processing pipeline and data warehouse to streamline integrations and the flow of information, said Mark Botticelli, Trimble Transportation’s chief technology officer.
The company also recently restructured elements of its transportation business as part of its move toward a more unified platform.
First, the company has moved the entire Transportation group under a common chief technology officer. Botticelli, who previously was chief technology officer at PeopleNet, now has assumed that role for the Mobility division, which includes PeopleNet, and the Enterprise software division. That move follows the recent departure of Tim Leonard, who had been TMW’s chief technology officer.
Trimble also has combined the data analytics divisions of PeopleNet and TMW into a single unit led by Keith Mader. Previously, PeopleNet had its own analytics unit known as Vusion, while TMW had a separate analytics operation under its Business Intelligence unit.
Although Trimble has been working to more closely link its properties for some time, these latest steps are “really taking it to the next level — a single architecture, single strategy, single view,” said Tom Fansler, president of Trimble Transportation Mobility.
As Trimble continues to pull together its various transportation businesses, the company’s branding and marketing will reflect that change.
“Our goal is to move to the Trimble brand,” Fosburgh said.
The duration of that transition, however, will vary from business to business, he added.
At the same time, the company will seek to retain the identity and brand equity of its existing product lines. For example, Innovative, one of several software platforms within the TMW portfolio, will be known as Trimble Innovative moving forward, Fosburgh said.
Although Trimble has a long-standing presence in industries such as agriculture and construction, it still is a relatively new name in transportation.
The company entered the trucking technology sector with its 2011 purchase of PeopleNet, a major supplier of telematics systems and in-cab communications. In 2012, Trimble purchased TMW Systems, the largest provider of transportation management software, and then acquired ALK Technologies, a vendor of routing and navigation software. Last year, Trimble added freight visibility firm 10-4 Systems to its family of trucking technology companies.
Fosburgh, a 24-year veteran executive at Trimble, assumed leadership of the Transportation Enterprise division after the unexpected death of longtime TMW President Dave Wangler in April.
“Dave was very much a visionary within the Transportation organization and very much a visionary in the industry,” said Fosburgh, who was a driving force behind the company’s entry into the transportation industry and who worked closely with Wangler to further develop that business.
Fosburgh previously held executive roles in other Trimble divisions, including construction, agriculture, survey and infrastructure, and geomatics and engineering.
Despite the move toward a unified platform, Trimble remains committed to supporting integrations with outside technology suppliers that offer competing products and services.
TMW, for example, maintains important integrations with onboard technology vendor Omnitracs, PeopleNet’s top competitor. At the same time, PeopleNet offers integrations with McLeod Software, a major rival of TMW.
Fansler said this “coopetition” model will continue.
“We believe as we bring these parts and pieces closer together, we will create unique value in the ways those integrate and in the functionality provided, and we expect that will, over time, create more gravitational pull toward the ‘one Trimble’ set of solutions,” Fansler said. “But that isn’t to say we won’t support other vendors. We have, and we absolutely will continue to do so, because customers have made other decisions and we have to support our customers’ needs.”
Fansler also said the company remains open to further acquisitions “that have the right strategic fit.”
“Acquisitions are still on the table,” he said, “and I don’t see that changing any time soon.”