CLEVELAND — For decades, most shippers relied on knowing when an order was scheduled to pick up and deliver — and barely much else. 

Today, everyone from retailers to manufacturers and distributors wants to be informed about the status of their shipments all along the supply chain, said Bart De Muynck, the chief industry officer at project44.

“I really started to see through the COVID pandemic the demand for visibility and what data can do,” De Muynck said Thursday during an on-stage interview at FreightWaves’ Future of Supply Chain event in Cleveland. “There’s two parts to that: what promise data holds and what you can effectively do with it.”

Chicago-based project44 was founded by Jett McCandless in 2014. The company provides a global supply chain visibility platform for shippers and logistics services providers.

De Muynck joined project44 in April 2022 after spending the previous eight years as a vice president and analyst at Gartner, where his research focused on delivery processes, transportation planning, analytics, yard management and fleet telematics.

“As an analyst, you meet a lot of vendors. Some just want to talk to Gartner, get some of Gartner’s research. Then there’s customers that look for your advice and implement your advice,” De Muynck said. “I would say in general, those companies that implement your advice, those are the same companies that listen to their own customers. As a technology vendor, when you evolve, the worst thing you can do is stop listening to customers, because now your product is no longer in line with their needs.”

De Muynck said one of the more interesting aspects of freight visibility platforms is how young the sector is. 

“This is a journey that is going to evolve over years, but again it starts with the value,” De Muynck said. “If you’re happy to say, ‘Today I can create $20 million a year of value with visibility,’ that’s what you focus on. That’s where the promise is, and I can tell you that I’ve already seen it in the almost two years that I’ve been with project44.”

De Muynck said freight visibility platforms can provide a road map for all other types of supply chain data. 

“I’m seeing what the road map is. Of all these other things that you can do based on the data that’s in your planning systems, maybe it’s in your transportation planning systems, in your procurement systems, because you know, that whole partnership, the whole network of people that use the data for different reasons, it’s a little bit like Amazon, right? Amazon started out as a retailer. They became a data company because they know exactly what you buy,” De Muynck said.

De Muynck said more companies of all sizes will begin to utilize freight visibility tools in the future.

“I think visibility is going to continue to expand. We see more and more companies come in. It’s a very democratic solution in the sense that it’s not just for the biggest companies,” De Muynck said. “Visibility has been like that from day one. Everyone can use it.”

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