As you are reading this, I am attending the BluJay Solutions User Conference in Chicago, IL. This is the first conference since the re-branding, which occurred after Kewill acquired LeanLogistics. I attended the LeanLogistics conference last year in Chicago as well. And like last year’s conference, this one did not disappoint. The conference was named “SOAR” which seemed appropriate as the logistics industry soars into new and unchartered waters. This is due to the rise of disruptive technologies, the changing nature of e-commerce, better and more sophisticated analytics, and a host of other reasons.
BluJay put the conference in the hands of its customers, taking their feedback from past events and surveying them about what they want to get out of the conference. As a result, the conference was a combination of thought leader presentations and BluJay product-specific breakout sessions. There was even a Q&A with Mia Hamm, the most decorated female soccer player of all time. This was the company’s largest conference to date, with over 500 attendees across a wide variety of industries.
Along with their re-branding, BluJay has launched a new product strategy that groups products into portfolios, rather than simply stand-alone products. The different product groups are part of the Global Trade Network (GTN), which encompasses 40,000 participants, including shippers, carriers, forwarders, and technology partners. BluJay CEO Doug Braun gave an overview of the GTN, and added that the goal is to add 50,000+ new members to make it more robust. The GTN categories include:
- Transportation GTN: Transportation Management, Transportation Management for Forwarders, Parcel, Fleet Management, Yard Management, and BluDex
- Warehouse GTN: Warehouse Management and Yard Management
- Compliance GTN: Customs Management and Compliance Solutions
- Commerce GTN: Commerce
- Network GTN: Control Tower, Message Broker, Carrier Network, and Actionable Intelligence
BluJay’s Chief Product Strategist Doug Surrett gave a fascinating presentation where he outlined what the GTN is all about and then laid out the product roadmap. According to Surrett, the GTN is all about transforming your supply chain strategy. There are a number ways supply chain and logistics executives need to change their thinking about their logistics strategy in order to succeed. I’ll highlight a couple of his thoughts. First, your supply chain can no longer be managed as a cost center; instead, it needs to be managed as a strategic, competitive asset. Second, you need to move away from static, linear processes; instead, realize that your supply chain is a dynamic living ecosystem. The third point that struck me was to move away from micro-optimization and focus on macro-optimization and the network effect. Basically, he was saying to identify the things you are unable to do yourself, and that is where BluJay can help.
Three other topics that I found very interesting and informative were Mobility, Parcel, and Control Tower solutions. The mobility offering builds upon the acquisition of Blackbay last month. As I wrote a few weeks back, Blackbay is a provider of mobility-enabled solutions for the transport and logistics industry. Blackbay’s Delivery Connect solution is currently being integrated with BluJay’s TMS and TMS for Forwarders. The solution offers shipment tracking and proof-of-delivery capture. Blackbay will also become the mobile app platform for BluJay across the Global Trade Network suite. Mobile apps will be developed for other BluJay products including Warehouse Management, Customs Management, Control Tower, Yard Management, and Commerce. With so much attention on mobility today, this move is not surprising, and is one that should pay off in the long run.
From a parcel standpoint, BluJay has been very active. On a yearly basis, the company is shipping billions of parcels every year. The parcel solution enables customers to maintain visibility of parcels throughout the global supply chain. The global aspect is the key here, as more and more businesses are shipping internationally. A term that I heard throughout the conference was “frictionless borders.” This is a major component for the parcel product, as you can ship to international customers while minimizing compliance risks. Looking ahead, BluJay plans to add invoice reconciliation, milestone tracking, and optimization to the solution. The company is also bringing Deliv on as a carrier, ushering in the new age of crowd-sourced delivery options. The optimization part is the one that has me most intrigued, as optimization is a driver for cost savings and improved service levels. The parcel solution is already integrated into TMS.
The Control Tower solution provides visibility across the entire GTN. A few interesting notes about the solution: first, it is an external customer access portal. Second, it provides public track and trace. This is obviously an important feature when it comes to gaining visibility into the whereabouts of your shipments. Third, it has white label capabilities, which means companies can brand it with their own logo, or with a partner or customer logo as well. And fourth, it has POD capabilities through EDI feeds from carriers.
In conclusion, the conference was yet another example of where I had the opportunity to learn from my peers, which is the sign of any good conference. BluJay is moving in a new direction with an emphasis on expanding its GTN to connect more shippers, carriers, and forwarders, and have moved away from a fragmented, single solution-based offering. Instead, they are now focusing on solution portfolios which are all connected to the greater global network. It is a move that should pay off; and based on the reaction and response from customers, it already is.