's first user conference, a three-day event at the Omni Mandalay at Los Colinas in Dallas, Texas, balanced keynote speeches by industry experts, educational breakouts, and a handful of product announcements.

The Connected 2015 conference, Nov. 9-11, featured keynote speeches by Bloomberg’s Lee Klaskow, Frost & Sullivan’s Wallace Lau, and Stifel’s John Larkin, discussing the influences on global supply chains and logistics, data, and the continuing evolution of transportation technology and infrastructure. Nöel Perry, a senior consultant with FTR, spoke extensively about the role of big data, both at the global and company level.

“Getting the data is becoming easier and easier. Forming that data into recommendations is the hard part, particularly when that data is contradicting long-held beliefs,” said Perry. “If you believe in big data, that means it’s more important than your judgment. That means the middle management guy who’s bringing you a report might know more about your business than you do.”

More than 150 attendees also participated in a variety of educational breakout sessions, covering topics such as fraud prevention, capacity management, and broker and carrier best practices. Panelists included representatives from Mode Transportation, Forward Air, NATCO, and King Farms, among many others.

“We’re not in the business we think we’re in; we’re in the people business,” said King Farms’ Brandt King, during a session on fostering better broker-carrier relationships.

One keynote session featured a product announcement in four parts: CEO Scott Moscrip revealed the launch of a new business intelligence tool designed to make both business and industry data more transparent and digestible; Real Time Freight General Manager Trent Broberg introduced the newest iteration of Rate Analysis, a powerful rate engine built to help customers “win the rate game;” CSO Bill Vitti revealed CargoShield, a comprehensive and affordable insurance product that protects loads from origin to destination; and Moscrip closed out the announcements with the introduction of LoadPay, a payment network designed to put more control, simplicity, and security in the hands of brokers and carriers.

“We’re all aware of the headaches associated with load payments – whether it’s storing carriers’ financial data or fielding payment inquiries or a lack of clarity between the parties,” said Moscrip. “With LoadPay, carriers are able to better control how and when they get paid and brokers can reduce their back-office work and risk of fraud.”

All four products are scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2016.