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-April 19, 2007


Supply Chain Software: Will a “Mashup” Enable Collaborative Transportation Management?


Design from Employee at India’s Tata Consulting wins Prize from Microsoft Competition


SCDigest Editorial Staff


A variety of pressures are leading a growing number of companies to look for collaborative transportation opportunities with other shippers to get better access to capacity and/or reduce transportation costs. Several software companies already offer collaborative capabilities.

Now, interesting news that a submission from Deepak Sharma of Tata Consultancy Services has won the first phase of a contest sponsored by Microsoft for the design of a “mashup” (defined below), which just happens to outline a collaborative transportation solution.

What is a mashup? There is no specific definition, but our take is that it is an offshoot of the so-called “Web 2.0” movement that uses a variety of technologies, such as web services, to aggregate content using the Internet from a variety of sources to meet a specific information need or provide a specific type of service.

In the Microsoft contest (see The Connected Services Sandbox), Sharma submitted a design for a mash-up that would “enable the concept of Collaborative Logistics. The idea is to share unused capacity in Trucks. Trucks which are not full can communicate the available space to the Mashup service, which will then broadcast the same to Mashup service subscribers using SMS.  Similarly, a Truck Owner can broadcast his unused space to subscribers through the Mashup service.”

“For small companies this will mean cutting high costs of half full truck shipments.”

In summary, this mashup would provide a web portal where shippers could use a web service to easily post shipping requirements, other shippers could do the same looking for complementary routes, and carriers could post capacity. For small shippers, this might mean posting they have a shipment going to a specific city that will be 50% of a truckload, and seek another nearby shipper with a load going to the same basic destination.

Existing collaborative solutions tend to target larger shippers. This design, it appears, is more specifically targeted at small and medium sized shippers.

The content continues as designs such as this move into the “Build” phase. We’ll keep you posted.

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