TMW Systems president David Wangler addresses attendees at the company's Transforum user conference in Nashville. Photo: Jim Beach

TMW Systems president David Wangler addresses attendees at the company's Transforum user conference in Nashville. Photo: Jim Beach

NASHVILLE -- More than 1,900 trucking company executives, driver managers, dispatchers, IT managers and other personnel were on hand for TMW Systems’ Transforum 2014, the company’s annual user conference held here Sept. 20-24.

The event featured three days of classroom training for TMWs’ family of transportation management software offerings, including TMW Suite, TruckMate, Innovative, TL2000, Appian and the company’s maintenance management applications.

In the event’s opening session on Sept. 22, TMW President David Wangler noted that the trucking industry is more than trucks – although that is how most people think about it.

“The face of this industry isn’t the front grille” of a truck, he said. “It’s really the many faces of the people who make the transportation business work.”

Beyond the equipment, trucking is about people and relationships, he said. “Trucks may run on fuel, but trucking and supply chains can’t run without people. Transportation is a service business, after all,” and it’s the relationships people build that allow trucking companies to succeed.

Beyond the reliance on relationships and people, the industry and the technology providers that serve it are changing in response to the way people interact with technologies they use every day such as smart phones and tablets. When you download an app from the Google Play store or Apple’s store, you don’t have to download a several hundred page user’s manual to use it, Wangler noted. “You just expect it to work. You expect a user experience that guides you in understanding the app.”

And for all kinds of enterprise software providers, “the mobile app experience is now what customers are demanding from their business software. Even without an instruction manual, have you ever seen a teenager have difficulty learning to use an iPhone?” he asked.

Of course, trucking software providers don’t make products for teenagers, but Wangler said TMW does want to make their products easier to implement and easier to use. “It’s important for you to know that we get it. We understand that you expect more from us-- and with less complexity and cost--than ever before.“

Plus, the industry is changing and the lines that separated traditional industry segments have begun to blur, Wangler said, between carriers, brokers and 3PLs, between private and for-hire fleets. The technology fleets use in the near future should provide visibility of every load and the data about that load: stops, the power unit, the trailer, the driver’s hours, location and routing. And all of this data should be available to all the stakeholders along the way from dispatch to back-office planning to shippers and receivers. “It is our vision to bring this powerful concept of continuous visibility to working, industry reality.”