The Trimble in.sight user conference in Houston was different this year: the emphasis was on ‘One Trimble’, which is both a marketing effort to redefine and unite Trimble’s various brands and a more thoroughgoing business reorganization project. Specifically, the transportation technology companies that Trimble has acquired over the years, from TMW Systems to 10-4, PeopleNet, and ALK Technologies, are now starting to be integrated into a single comprehensive transportation software platform.
Trimble’s acquisition spree over the past decade-plus amounts to a playbook for large companies looking to make strategic acquisitions and find synergies between different software companies.
“We are unified by a common mission—to connect every facet of transportation—which is now further reflected through PeopleNet, TMW and 10-4's transition to Trimble,” said Steve Berglund, president and CEO of Trimble. “We’re not leaving behind the names of individual companies but rather honoring them as the foundation for our continued emphasis on supporting our customers and moving the industry forward.”
“This transition is an exciting reflection of the work we're doing to usher in a new era of transportation technology,” said Bryn Fosburgh, senior vice president for Trimble and president of Trimble Transportation Enterprise. “Trimble is leading the industry in delivering a comprehensive set of solutions, industry expertise and global reach, along with a strong legacy as a customer-first culture that will remain at the heart of what we do.”
FreightWaves spoke to Mark Botticelli, the Chief Technology Officer of Trimble Transportation, at the conference. Botticelli’s prior role was CTO of PeopleNet, but his new job is to figure out how to make all of these disparate companies and technologies work together—he told FreightWaves that his plan is to move everything to a single cloud-based platform so that a customer can on-board all of the services it needs at the same time.
“The awakening was not that ‘oh my God we have all of these properties within our sector’—that was very strategic, buying all the puzzle pieces. The ‘a-ha’ moment was realizing that they’re not as well integrated as we needed them to be,” said Botticelli. “If you look at 10-4, a visibility player who’s trying to integrate every carrier and shipper, well guess what? PeopleNet is trying to integrate every carrier and shipper as well. So we don’t need to integrate twice. We can integrate one time onto a transportation cloud.”
“If you look at the properties we do have within our sector, whether it’s a visibility player or a mobile comm vendor or a TMS… if you look at all of those, we’re really building a transportation exchange,” Botticelli explained.
“As most big companies understand, we acquired most of this technology, and when you acquire them, they come with their own platforms and technologies, and so now I have the task of figuring out how we bring them together. It’ll be a unique challenge, but it’s one worth going after,” said Botticelli.
Botticelli said that while the current capacity-constrained environment has proved to be a hindrance to the adoption of some kinds of technology, because shippers have very little leverage over the trucks they work with, shippers are in fact encouraging their primary carriers to participate in transportation exchanges and bring visibility into their operations.
“I want to integrate every capability in transportation and have every transaction running through our transportation platform so we can optimize it. We feel like we have an unfair competitive advantage because of all the companies we’ve bought,” Botticelli concluded.
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