Unlike other comparable markets in which technology penetration has relatively been easy, the trucking industry has had some friction with adoption, primarily because the market remains extremely fragmented and banks on traditional processes like paper documentation and archaic AS400 green screens for operations planning.
The digitalization of processes and back office automation is a key to optimizing trucking operations, says Steve Divitkos, the CEO of Microdea. Microdea is an Ontario, Canada-based company that has been a mainstay in the digitalization niche for over two decades, helping companies manage documentation and automate back office processes to make them more efficient.
“We have created a single platform to manage all the documents and content coming out from an organization. So instead of fumbling with network drives, Dropbox accounts, and on-site and off-site physical document storage, every piece of documentation within the company is between one to three clicks away,” said Divitkos.
“In back office automation, we use software to make basic processes faster and less wasteful – like payables process, receivable collections, onboarding drivers and paying them. These processes tend to be very slow, people and paper-intensive, and highly error-prone. We let the software take care of all that to let people do more value-added work,” he continued.
Divitkos acknowledged the growing competition in the segment and welcomed it, as it validated the significance of the problem that Microdea is solving. Also, since Microdea has been an incumbent for 20 years in the market, Divitkos explained that it was not necessarily threatened by competition, citing that the company’s customer base accounted for a quarter of North America’s largest carriers, over one-third of the continent’s largest logistics companies, and over 80 percent of Canada’s largest transportation companies.
Unlike several general documentation management and process automation companies in the space, Microdea’s software is tailored to suit the transportation and logistics businesses, whatever their size. “We have clients who own 50 trucks, and ones who have 8,000 or more trucks, and they are all served with the same piece of software, which is designed to be flexible and scalable,” said Divitkos.
Microdea’s software usage amongst its clients is fairly frequent. Divitkos mentioned that 75 percent of its customers use the software daily, while 84 percent of them use it at least weekly. Most of the time, Microdea finds itself integrated within different systems at the back office – like the transportation management system (TMS), accounting system, recruitment system or the customer service system.
The company has come up with a new user interface that Diviktos explained is designed based on customer demand for a more secure and faster platform. The new interface makes it easier for clients to use and interact with the software, while providing them a streamlined user experience.
“When you have served hundreds of customers as we have, you can appreciate that part of our strength lies in the native intelligence baked into our software,” Diviktos said. “Since 75 percent of our clients use it every day, we have to make sure it is simplified enough for training costs to go down. Usability, speed, security and alignment with the current technologies were what drove us to design this interface.”
Diviktos believes that Microdea’s core software platform was essentially future-proofed with this update, and would help seamlessly integrate with the new products it has in its pipeline. After the re-platforming, the company has launched a product called LoadPal that allows businesses to begin the billing processes instantly upon the delivery of any given load.
“In a pre-LoadPal world, drivers will drive to truck stops and use scanning stations or wait until they return to the head office, to submit all of the relevant trip documentation. Only after the documentation is received would the billing processes commence,” said Diviktos.
“But with our LoadPal application, drivers can simply use their own personal mobile phones, take pictures using an OCR engine, and upon load delivery, all the relevant trip documentation including bills of lading, proof of delivery, invoices and receipts get sent to the headquarters immediately. This aligns with the core of our DNA – which is to make transportation logistics faster, more efficient and profitable.”