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New Transflo President Michael Southworth sees opportunity ahead

Technology veteran says transportation industry still has room to grow with automation, collaborative technologies

New Transflo President Michael Southworth believes the transportation industry is ripe for further technological innovation, especially around automation and collaborative platforms. (Photo: Transflo)

Michael Southworth has an extensive background in technology, and that aligns perfectly with Transflo’s history of technological innovation.

“Michael’s deep expertise in emerging technology and mobility provides the perfect puzzle piece that Transflo needs to transform the supply chain for the 21st century,” Transflo CEO Frank Adelman said in a Nov. 19 statement announcing Southworth’s appointment as company president. “We are thrilled to have him join our leadership team and advance the company toward a streamlined, digital future.”

Southworth, who was most recently general manager of Verint Systems’ Intelligent Self-Service business, talked with FreightWaves about joining Transflo and what customers and employees can expect as Transflo builds toward the future.

“I love businesses that I can get my hands around, that are smaller and entrepreneurial and … Transflo fits directly into that,” he said. “Transflo is unique in where it sits in the overall ecosystem.”

At Verint, Southworth led a team that built conversational artificial intelligence and advanced analytics solutions to improve customer engagement and reduce fraud. Southworth previously was CEO of Contact Solutions, a Verint company, and chief operating officer of Corning MobileAccess. He is a board member of Finjan, a global cybersecurity company, as well as a board member of Quality of Life Plus Program, a nonprofit organization that works to generate innovations that improve quality of life for those who have served in the armed forces.

At Verint, Southworth worked with businesses in many verticals, including transportation. In Transflo, he saw an opportunity to join a company that is already technologically focused, but one with growth opportunities in an industry sector that is still adopting automation.

“The verticals are more similar than different,” he said. “Within transportation, I looked at the market and broadly, it’s early in the [automation movement]. In banking, for instance, it is heavily automated. Broadly speaking, transportation is not there yet.”

Transflo has a long history of innovation, beginning nearly 20 years ago when it developed scanning and imaging technologies. Digital document management came in the 2000s, followed by mobile workforce solution development in the past 10 years. Most recently, Transflo announced the acquisition of Microdea, which offers the paperless Synergize platform to manage document flow, including same-day billing, cash flow and days sales outstanding. The company offers billing, collections, accounts payable and accounts receivable, driver recruitment and file management, and rate confirmations and carrier pay solutions for enterprise clients.

Adelman told FreightWaves at the time that Microdea represents a complementary fit to Transflo with a similar business model.

“We saw this as an opportunity to expand our presence into a new region,” he said. “The industry has been steadily moving towards digital transformation, even more so now that the pandemic has disrupted essential businesses and the supply chain as a whole. The talent that Microdea brings to the table, along with its solutions, will facilitate the North American transportation industry’s transition into digital document management during a critical economic time.”

Southworth, who said he is interested anytime analytics and data are involved, said joining Transflo met the three criteria he believes are important for any company. They are:

  1. The people, and Adelman is “all in, a great leader.”
  2. The economic model. “It should be something that I can explain to my mom. It shouldn’t be complicated.”
  3. The move toward collaborative automation.

“You have a lot of independent parties that don’t like to share information despite the fact that it might be to their advantage … and that is a concern as you roll out technology,” Southworth said about introducing new technologies, noting that brokers, drivers and shippers can all be skeptical. “How do you drive them and show the impacts?”

Transflo customers won’t see any major shifts in philosophy, but Southworth promised they will be able to trust the products Transflo rolls out.

“I want them to know that I am open and they can trust me,” he said.

As for future products, Southworth wasn’t prepared to discuss any specific technologies, but noted that investments “are increasingly pretty substantially in the collaboration platform.”

“I’d like for new innovations to be enabled so all our carriers and drivers can connect to the platforms very quickly,” he said.

“I’m excited for the future,” Southworth said. “I’m here because I want to be here. I see the opportunity — maybe as an outsider — seeing the transformation piece in other markets and the benefits [they’ve driven] and I’m excited to bring that to the transportation markets.”

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Brian Straight.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected].