Transparency Waves 2019 – Day 3 Recap


And that’s a wrap!

The final day of #Transparency19 was equally as action-packed as the first two. The morning started off with the FreightWaves Market Experts delivering their daily insights and moved quickly into the morning keynote by David Rowan, Editor-at-Large and Founding Editor-In-Chief of Wired UK. Rowan spent the first part of his talk acknowledging some sources of innovation happening around the globe – including drones saving lives by delivering blood to areas that are difficult to get to by vehicle. He then went on to share what he believe the future will be. Here are two significant takeaways:

The Future will be Smart

Between AI and machine learning it is clear that the ability to track human movement and eliminate friction in various ways is only beginning to find its place in the market. From Warner Brothers offering a record deal to an algorithm to Mcdonald’s investing $300m in AI – it is clear that this smart technology will dominate the future.

The Future will be Data Rich

Rowan shared how the China Post is getting involved in collecting data related to purchases in Chinese villages. This level of information will inform how shippers direct their products and how capital is directed into various industries and markets, among other impacts. The fact is, data isn’t created it is collected. Data is the result of behavior already occurring; our ability to capture and harness data is the difference. For instance, a satellite company began capturing data related to how many cars are parked in a parking lot and discovered that car count is directly proportional to stock price.

However, success in this future will rest upon our mindset. Leaders must architect organizations that are willing and eager to change, even when things are comfortable. Innovation has to come from the top and can not be passed off on a role or a department – it is a way of being and a way of leading. The world right now is full of companies that are playing what Rowan calls “Innovation Theater”. Basically, this is the practice of running a pilot program or gathering RFPs just to give shareholders the impression that innovation is happening.

The truth is, our human biases are what will slow us down the most – and fear of the unknown is key.

Rowan then moved to a time of Q&A which was highlighted by his three questions he asks before investing in a business:

  1. What is motivating the team to do something impossible or difficult that is likely to fail? I has to be more than making money or having an exit.
  2. Is it a real problem they are trying to solve?
  3. How big is the market? It must be scalable.

Following the morning keynote was a series of “Sector Talks” that focused on several niche areas within the industry. Before lunch the winners of the Rapid Fire demos were announced – congratulations to all! Post-lunch we listened to a multitude of debates and predictions about where the industry is headed. As always, there will be more questions than answers. Yesterday, SwanLeap CEO Brad Hollister sat on a panel of high growth CEOs at the 2019 Transparency Waves conference put on by FreightWaves. Some feathers were ruffled as Hollister asserted that April 28, 2019 was the day the music died. On April 28th FreightWaves broke the story that, as anticipated, Amazon is indeed entering the transportation space at scale. Hollister shared his vision that transactional brokerage as we know it, is on its way out the door. Will this happen overnight? Of course not.

For the brokers and 3PLs that are forward thinking – this opportunity will be a land grab. Amazon has a strong history of observing and then overtaking a space that is complementary to their other offerings or that is beneficial to their overall business. The curious thing about Amazon is that they don’t just take things and make them better, they have a way of reinventing entire products and processes. If brokers and 3PLs want to survive this disruption, they will have to understand and play Amazon’s game by reinventing their own offering.

Brokerage is the last industry that is insulated by a lack of transparency. We saw this play out with financial advisors in the late 90s as the Internet began to pull back the curtain on what was really happening.

SwanLeap can help.

We are currently having conversations with brokers and 3PLs on a daily basis helping decision makers to reimagine how they can continue to bring scalable value to their clients.