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  • OTRI.USA
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  • OTVI.USA
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  • TLT.USA
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  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
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  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
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  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
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  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
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American ShipperWarehouse

SEKO wades into SaaS global TMS market

Gelnius, a spin off of freight forwarder SEKO Logistics’ technology division, will provide an order-to-cash transportation management system for enterprises and a “Lite,” modular version of the TMS in late summer.

   SEKO Logistics is primarily known for being a global freight forwarder and non-vessel-operating common carrier.
   But the Itasca, Ill.-based company on Monday formally launched a technology division aiming to recalibrate how the global shipping industry thinks of transportation management software.
   The new entity, called Gelnius, is essentially a spin-off of the transportation management system (TMS) SEKO has used for years to serve its clients.
   The first version of the Gelnius TMS, called Enterprise, is designed primarily for large global shippers with complex order-to-cash requirements and a sophisticated understanding of their technology needs. Gelnius will release two other versions of the product, TMS Lite, and Marketplace, in the third quarter of 2017.
   The TMS Lite version is designed for small to mid-sized companies that want multi-tenant software with “pre-defined business logic, pre-book functionality, a consolidation tool, exception management, (and) a defined set of carrier integrations,” the company said.
   The Marketplace, designed to work in tandem with the Lite version, is for companies that want to build module-by-module.
   The launch version has been piloted by customers over the past year as SEKO has built on its capabilities and expertise in the freight forwarding space.
   “Intrinsically, enterprise deals are based on in-depth blueprinting of customer details,” Marc Gross, chief commercial officer at Gelnuis, said in a briefing with American Shipper. “We have to customize a percentage of our core. And that has always been about making our system work for the customer.
   “Where the Lite product differs is you’ll define your own path based on the products we offer you, whether you want to grow them rapidly, or whether you’re a small to medium entity and want a TMS and an order management system. It gives them flexibility and as they grow, we can grow with them. That Lite becomes equivalent of enterprise as you add more and more.”
   Gross said the Lite version is really the core of the Gelnius product, and a shift from the pure individual customer focus of SEKO’s forwarding engagements toward a suite with broader reach.
   “Having the marketplace will allow us to expand the product by building modular products,” he said. “When you look at the enterprise system, you build it from a core product. With Lite you will evolve it over time. They become a plug-and-play element to that core. You look at what the market requires instead of what the individual customer requires, what products the market actually want us to build.”
   The Gelnius TMS is designed to provide a range of global shipment management capabilities, from ocean, air and domestic transportation procurement, planning, execution, and visibility to global trade management functions like customs documentation generation and duty management strategy.
   The cloud-based system is designed to be implemented quickly, and to connect with a shipper’s existing systems, while leveraging point solutions (like around trade compliance automation). The system is also built around letting shippers connect to carriers and suppliers and other relevant data sources via application programming interfaces (APIs).
   “In any supply chain there are many different parties, people and roles – both internal and external – each with their own disjointed systems; freight forwarders, 3PL’s, parcel couriers, ERP systems, financial systems, in-house warehouse systems and so on,” Gross said in a statement. “They all need to work together ‘in-sync’ so Gelnius connects to each one and brings that fresh data into a separate environment, giving the customer an unprecedented level of transparency and visibility.”
   In the briefing, Gross spoke of the power of building a clean data set that is accessible by all relevant parties.
   “As order comes through, you see how these things are impacting them,” he said. “Legacy ERPs never really did that. They were siloed by regions and countries, and it created a disjointed process. The key is defining in that process who is responsible for the tasks.
   “It’s kind of a pre-blockchain principle. Everyone has a role within a shipment. You’re using the application to define the point at which you dip in and dip out. What are you directly responsible for, what is this person responsible for? What are my colleagues responsible for? It encourages people to actively delegate and manage. You’re using the hierarchy and tasks to encourage people to work the way they should.”
   Gross said Gelnius is actively building upon that concept.
   “Our future is, I understand what I should be doing, but does system understand if I haven’t done something, and how that impacts who’s next in the chain,” he said. “Where we want to get to it predicting failure. That’s a massive step change for logistics. Most people in logistics are very reactive. Best people in this business are those who are reactive the quickest. But how about it doesn’t go wrong, because you worked out what was about to go wrong. That’s something we’re keen to build rapidly, but it’s hard.”
   In the company’s release, Gross said the system is aimed at letting shippers engage in “virtual forwarding,” where shippers “are able to cut many elements out of the process, creating a carrier-neutral platform where they can buy how they want, and route how they want, on their own terms.”
   That includes connecting to a shipper’s suppliers, which may number from a handful to a few thousands parties that would ideally be tethered to a holistic global transportation management system.
   Brian Bourke, vice president of marketing at SEKO, said Gelnius should be particularly useful for the small to mid-sized global shippers who primarily use Microsoft Excel to manage global shipping processes that aren’t achievable through an ERP.
   “What is available to them in the market, a lot of folks don’t have time to adopt ERP upgrades or to bolt-on a system,” he said. “It requires cross-functional collaboration within their organization. And that doesn’t just involve logistics and transportation. It could have ramifications with purchasing, even sales and marketing.
   “We’re creating a platform to quickly onboard new technology to help streamline processes to help them grow quicker. Switches that can be flipped on – that’s the key in the Marketplace.”
   American Shipper research into global transportation management finds that at least a third of shippers predominantly use spreadsheets to manage ocean and air freight execution.
   Bourke emphasized there will be a “separation of church and state,” when it comes to the development of Gelnius within the broader SEKO umbrella. Gelnius is designed primarily for companies that want to run their own supply chain software, while SEKO will continue to deploy technology for its forwarding customers.
   As such, he said the Gelnius product is not about replacing freight forwarders but about empowering shippers to manage service partners more effectively.
   “A system isn’t going to ask, ‘why are you shipping a server from Africa to Israel?’” he said. “Talking to shippers about the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ are always going to be part of working with them on a strategic level. That’s where you get to the core of the skill set of freight forwarders. Our technology is not looking to replace that skill set. It’s looking to provide data to help them make better decisions.”
   The Gelnius TMS is a available as a software-as-a-service product. SEKO’s technology customers come from the retail, manufacturing, high-tech, medical, aerospace, defense, security and aviation sectors.

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