Connecting the world’s supply chain data with Brian Glick
Episode Transcript

One of the bigger issues in supply chain and logistics is that each sector tends to operate in a silo. And that’s no different in the supply chain technology sphere, either.

That’s why Brian Glick set out to start Chain.io to help connect each part of the supply chain journey with integrations specifically built on established processes. In addition to integration talk, we also get into the overall freight tech landscape, it’s strengths, weaknesses, and if someone like Elon Musk is setting the bar for how technology companies should operate.

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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Blythe Brumleve:

All right, welcome into another episode of everything is logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. I'm your host, Blythe Brumleve. And I'm happy to welcome in Bryan Glick. He is the founder and CEO of chain.io. And we're gonna be talking about the freight tech landscape, especially when it comes to the market challenges of today. So Brian, welcome into the show, I'm so glad to finally have you.

Brian Glick:

It's so great to be here.

Blythe Brumleve:

Now, I was talking with you earlier. So you kind of already heard this story. But for the audience sake, like I did, the way I found out about you and your career history, and all of that is from a fellow freightwaves podcaster, Nate Shutes, who hosts the Bootstrappers Guide to Logistics, and I was listening to that episode, and I had to press pause, the one that you were on, go to LinkedIn, find your name, and connect with you, because I knew I had to have you on the show. And it was just such an amazing conversation, and then came back to the podcast, and hit play to listen to the rest of it. So hopefully, we can be you know, just a smidgen of that, you know, sort of excellence that that Nate has established over there. But for the sake of the folks who don't necessarily know about you, and your career background, can you give us a little bit of insight on who Brian is as a person and how you came to work in the logistics tech space?

Brian Glick:

Yeah, absolutely. First of all, that's a that's a lot of pressure to live up to. So hopefully, we'll do it justice. The so I've been in the logistics and supply chain space now. Pushing 25 years, which is still weird to say out loud. So we're now ready to work though. So I feel like I've managed to avoid some of the traps. I got into it in the 90s dropped out of college and got a job literally running wires from the back of a mainframe to the old dumb terminals, the company didn't even have PCs, for a customs broker, and said, I'm going to do this for three months. And then I'm going to find a more interesting thing to do with my life than whatever this company I didn't know what customs even was, but they they offered me $1,000 More than the Philadelphia Art Museum who was going to do PC support. And I was like, that sounds like a really great plan for it's one year old. And I have, I'm still searching for something more interesting than this, I have yet to find anything more fascinating than then supply chain. And so over the last 25 years, I've done a ton of jobs, I've run a global infrastructure for three PL I've helped some of the largest apparel companies in the world manage their move to globalization and what that meant from a custom standpoint. I built this my second software company. And I've always been very focused on the international trade and compliance and ocean freight markets, but have done a little bit in the warehousing space enough to be dangerous. And a little bit with those apparently there's these these trucks that move in between those two legs. And I've I've also know a little bit enough to be dangerous in that space, too.

Blythe Brumleve:

So what was the catalyst? Because you are the founder of chain.io. So what was the catalyst for you to say that you've worked in all of these different roles within the freight industry or within logistics that supply chain as a whole. But what was that catalyst that said to you, I need to start this company.

Brian Glick:

So in 2015 2016 timeframe, I was working at a freight forwarder and customs broker called Vandegrift, who has since been acquired by Maersk. And when I was there, I was had a sales leadership role as an executive sponsor for a lot of accounts and that type of stuff was out with customers actively selling and running it at the same time. And I realized that the number one friction point when a freight provider wants to work with a shipper was how quickly can we get the systems to work together? How quickly can we do the EDI? Or how quickly can we get all of these complicated things together? And it used to be it was like How fast can we connect your mainframe to mine. And as companies started buying more online software and started buying more specific software, it became we have 14 internal systems that you know big company X and you have nine systems that your freight forwarding company and they all have to have this complicated dance of making all of this work together. And that was the number one blocker and friction point to progress and nobody was addressing that. And I was lucky enough to spend enough time understanding the tech industry and understand that that problem was gonna get a lot worse. As all these API's came in as all of these venture back. SAS companies came in to do very, very specific things. You know, the idea of of a company like Project 44, existing back then. And this was right around when jet was starting that company, but that was just going to do this one little thing about dates. Like before all the companies were like SAP, they did everything. And I realized there was no way that anyone was going to be able to get all this stuff to work together unless there was a neutral player who was only focused on getting this one friction point out of the process, which is, what do we do with our data? And I think it seems obvious 767 years later, but it was kind of to take a deep breath and say, I'm gonna take a shot at this problem that doesn't exist yet. Which was kind of where we were back then.

Blythe Brumleve:

And I would imagine that a lot of these companies are very apprehensive to share their data. How do you sort of work through, I guess, that concern of sharing their data.

Brian Glick:

So trust is extremely important. And one of the things that we did, every company has to make this decision on their own, is have a really open and honest conversation about what, who owns data, and what your role in a process is. So we take a really strong and extreme stance, which is that we don't own any of the data that's on our network. And what that means is we don't run analytics on it. We're not a company that aggregates a bunch of data that's moving across our network and publishes an index. And certainly, you know, organizations that are very open about doing that, like Fritos, or freightwaves. That's their business model, right. And you know that if you're putting your data into something like sonar, or you're, you know, exchanging data on the on the Fritos marketplace, those companies publish indexes on that data. And that's okay. And it's part of the value prop. And we took a position that if we're going to help large organizations connect to each other, the easiest way to answer that comfort question was to say that we don't look at the data. We don't, it's none of our business. You know, I always tell our customers, you can send purchase orders out to all of your suppliers over a network. And I can't tell you at the end of the year, how many dollars of product you bought, because we don't look at it at all. So we just took this very hard line that we were on, we were on the privacy side of the fence and getting no criticism of companies that are open and honest about being on the other side of that fence. It's the ones that get blurry, like kind of the Facebook use situations where you're like, am I? Am I the product? Or am I the customer? Here are our customers, our customers, they're not our product.

Blythe Brumleve:

And so I guess now's a good time to get into what exactly does chain.io do? What services what brought? What big problems are they solving.

Brian Glick:

So we help freight forwarders and shippers, and then the software companies that work that work with them to glue all of the systems together in a comprehensive data strategy. So think about all of the different interchanges that have to happen of data from the lifecycle of something, somebody wanting to buy something from a Chinese factory, to the fact to the point that it's in a in a warehouse or in a store. There's very tactical things like how do I get milestone updates on the shipment that's moving? And then there's very strategic things like, where am I going to put the data of those milestone updates inside of my company. So we're working with a really big retailer right now who's saying, Okay, I've got all this data coming in from visibility providers, I've got my purchaser management system, I've got all this and I've got armies of analysts out there. But nobody can get it out of this data that's moving around. And so we sit down and we look at the the plumbing and the pipes that they already have for this data, and help them organize them and structure that through our network so that they can very quickly add new components. Because our network has this engine in the middle of it, that takes data from one source, and puts it into this, what we call it canonical format, which sort of normalizes it and gives it to someone else. So what that means is two systems that maybe were built in different decades, or have different metaphors, you know, you take a trucking system and you take a ocean freight system. They don't even use the same words for things, you know, you've got job numbers and House bills and pro numbers and, you know, container numbers versus trailer numbers. We make it so that all that data can move between these systems smoothly. And then we help companies apply that to these really big problems. So at the beginning, we look a little bit like plumbers, right, because we're getting all this data together. But at the end, what it is is about getting a whole data strategy for your company.

Blythe Brumleve:

So what it sounds like, just almost like a magic brush that that maybe like fixes Everything but I imagine that there are a lot of steps and processes just getting the company to define their processes is all of that work done in initially like after you guys are hired or, or you guys kind of the the plumber and the construction company at the same time.

Brian Glick:

So we're the architect were the architect and the plumber and the construction company at the same time. And what I mean by that is we built this platform, based on the best practices that are experts, including myself and the whole team, we all come from the industry, what we realized was that there's a lot of different ways that people name things and a lot of different ways people describe their supply chains. But at the end of the day, we're all moving boxes of varying sizes and shapes from one point to another or buying things and having them delivered. Right, whether you're buying for 50 containers from a factory in China, whether an EECOM customer is buying one package of have a you know, just an envelope with post up, you know, a pack a post that's in it, the patterns are the same, you've got to buy things, you've got to procure freight, you've got to do rate management, you've got to do pickups and deliveries and put things into inventory and take them out. And we we modelled out there's about 15 different things. And we have the best practices built into our platform. So like the huge difference when companies work with us versus say, you know, go into, like just a generic integration company is take pricing as an example, we work with a freight forwarder. You know, it's one thing to say, how am I going to get this file that has all of my contracts with my carriers into my system? better question is, how am I going to make my E commerce experience as a freight company work well for my customers, which means how do I take the information that that they put in on my website, query my air freight, my ocean freight, and my trucking systems simultaneously, coordinate all of that data, get it back presented on the website, let the customer hit by now and get that purchase with the actual correct pricing into my TMS. We have an architecture for that we have a slide for that. And so instead of a company spending a year figuring that the answer to that question out, they come to us and they say let's implement the best practice implementation for rate management. And then we have all the plugins to all the tools that they use. So figuring out what to do is much harder than actually doing it and so we built that into the tool.

Blythe Brumleve:

This episode is brought to you by SPI logistics, the premier freight agent and logistics network in North America. Are you currently building your freight brokerage his book of business and feel that your capabilities are being limited due to lack of support and access to adequate technology? At SPI logistics, we have the technology, the systems and the back office support to help you succeed. If you're looking to take control of your financial future and build your own business, with the backing of one of the most successful logistics firms in North America, visit SPI three pl.com to learn more. So it sounds like hearing you break this down. It sounds like this industry has just come such a long way, technology wise just adoption and processes and honing both of those in. But you often hear within the industry that we're very slow to innovate that we're very slow to adopt technology. But it sounds like from what you're saying that it's it's it's happening. It's just not happening maybe at a rate that you know, other people would like it to happen at.

Brian Glick:

I was in Barcelona for the for actually for free doses conference or last year. And I listened for two days to all of these very senior executives getting up on the stage, but moaning, the lack of innovation, a lack of progress in airfreight. And when I had my chance to get up on the stage, you know, the first thing I said is you are able to take a package, put it in a box, put a sticker on that box and have it magically be transported to the other side of the planet in a few days with no meaningful effort besides going on your phone and typing in where you want it to be. That's incredible, right? And we were actually a very robust, technologically advanced industry that also has a lot of things that we can do better. But we don't give ourselves credit for the fact that we create magic. Like the magic of you know, before FedEx existed of saying I can take an envelope and in New York and literally put in a box and it's going to appear on the other side of the country in the next morning. That's insane. Right when you think about it before it existed, right overnight. shipping, or, you know, anything related to e commerce or the ability to coordinate and understand the traceability, which is what we're spending a lot of time on now of being able to take a particular bale of cotton from somewhere and actually draw the straight line to the t shirt that's sitting on the shelf at a store. That's insane, that we can do that. And yet we spend all day every day talking about how horrible we are at all this stuff.

Blythe Brumleve:

So it's very well said, because as I was listening to you break all this down, I'm like, gosh, this is the talking point that I've heard for so long is that we're so slow to enter the Innovate were so slow to adopt technology. But for I think for a lot of industry, especially industry executives that have been around for a very long time. You know, they're used to handling things, you know that in the way that they've handled them, because that's what they've always done. And now this technology comes into play. And they're not trusting of it. And but once they do embrace it, it sort of changes the lives of not necessarily the higher executives, but the in the trenches employees, which I think is probably doesn't get talked about enough, are those types of employees that benefit from the solutions that you guys are providing. So my next question is, so say I am a freight forwarder. And I sign up for your company. And after the integration is complete, what does that role look like for the in the trenches employee?

Brian Glick:

So the in the trenches employee who's actually the one I care about the most personally, they don't really know we exist. But they know that something, they don't have to do something that they had to do the day before. Right. As an example, we had a customer who was working with one of the really big E commerce platforms, and that E commerce platform had these 30 digit tracking numbers that were attached to every shipment. And that employee had to sit there and type those tracking numbers in every day. Because their IT department was struggling with the integration with the customer. And instead of going back to the customer and telling them to change something, they were essentially taking these huge technical files and dropping them into a folder. And then the employees were opening them and trying to transcribe all of these reference numbers. And then when they got them wrong, the Met the status messages didn't go back to the customer, right? And then employee get yelled at. And so when we're doing our job, well, it's about sitting down and saying you can't ask that huge econ platform to change how it works. You can ask this massive freight company to change how they work. But what we were able to do was figure out why the IT department was having trouble taking his files, which and that answer turned out to be literally they were sending them 60 days too early, and revising them a bunch of times and the company's TMS couldn't handle all the revisions. So we said, hey, what if we just look at the date and the file and don't send it to you until it's about to arrive? Because you're just doing dredge? And they were like, Oh, well, that would be awesome. And so like, in like three days, the problem is fixed, right? And that employees now no longer getting yelled at the executives who are going in and apologizing once a quarter at the QBR for the KPIs being awful, are no longer getting yelled at. And we fade quietly into the background. And everyone just like nobody logs into our system, except for IT people. But it's it's the the grease in side of the gears.

Blythe Brumleve:

I love that analogy, because it brings up my next question of what is the role of a modern, I guess, you know, freight forwarder? Or through PL What does their IT department look like? Because, you know, back in my day, when I was working as an executive assistant, a three PL, it was just one guy that was in charge of setting up email setting up new computers, phone systems. Now it feels like there's another level of complexity that you you have to have a whole team to really handle.

Brian Glick:

So back in the day, we used to use this there was this this period of time when it was very popular, just to separate the term it from is and it was boxes and wires and patching servers and what have you and is was the business layer software, right this information systems. And I think that while that term is probably not as popular anymore, that idea exists a lot more in companies where the companies that are doing things well, the people responsible for running the software that runs the business are not in the same group of people, as the people who are responsible for keeping the lights on and keeping the the I was set the blackberries for keeping the phones or the iPhones running. Right? That that distinction is important now and for a midsize or small forwarder. That can be really hard. We I was actually just before we got on this talking to one of my reps who's working with a small forwarder that were working on getting up and running down in the Caribbean. They don't have that right they have 90 people in their company and they're talking about integrating to a big multinational chemical company. And they're the IT guy, and it is still usually a guy is, is not equipped to understand how to do a, you know, Edi based integration with a multinational that has project managers and QA people and expects his team. So, you know, we're encouraging that company to work with us, because we become sort of the front end, you know, with our services group on top of the software to give the impression that that company is much larger so that they can interface with that big account.

Blythe Brumleve:

And so it's almost like a resource for the IT role in present day.

Brian Glick:

Yeah, yeah. And it's, it's, you know, when we work with larger companies, they have integration teams, and all of this. And we tend to do sort of long term strategic things like that rate management thing, and we work with smaller companies, oftentimes, we become the customer facing front edge of, really, we don't think of it as the front edge of the IT team, we think of it as the front edge of the sales team or the account management teams there. So that they don't have to go back to that IT team and ask someone who's not trained in managing a customer relationship, who didn't get into it, to have to go to customer meetings every day where they didn't it oftentimes to avoid that, right? So it's not fair to ask that person to also be a good salesperson. And frankly, when you're in freight, you're never not selling because the next load or the next, the next bill of lading, it's not guaranteed, right? There's no, nobody has these has like real enforceable contracts in this industry. So everyone who's customer facing needs to be good at customer relationships. And that's not a fair thing to ask of an internal IT person who just was never taught to do it. Right. And that's a real struggle for small and mid sized forwarders.

Blythe Brumleve:

I want to stay on the small in the in the midsize companies for our minute, because, you know, I'm thinking back to my days as an executive assistant, and we made a TMS switch in, I think it was like year two, that I was working for this company, and it was a disaster. I mean, the counting was messed up. Building loads were messed up. It was a lot of things were messed up during that process. So for folks who are looking to adopt a or for businesses who are looking to adopt new technology in the future, that their business, it's their lifeline, what steps should they think about before they make the call to someone like you or to another provider.

Brian Glick:

So rule number one in my life, is the only TMS worse than the one that you have is the one you're about to buy. Because often what you're thinking of as a TMS problem is really a business process problem, or it's, or it's the fact that frankly, a lot of the work that we do is miserable, and no matter what system you do, and if people are going to be unhappy, right like the driver not picking up the load doesn't change based on what TMS you have a guess on TMS may have a text message that reminds the driver, but that stuff often gets masked as a systems problem when it's you don't have good contract? Or if you don't have good relationships, or or you just don't run your office really well. You know, so this applies to big companies just as much as it does the small ones. If you're thinking about changing systems, or you're thinking about adding systems, you don't think of it as IT projects. You think of it as a business change management project, what am I trying to make better? And you really only get to have like two or three answers, depending on who you ask. I mean, they're going to try to make more money, more revenue, I'm going to try to make my operations more efficient, so I can have better margin, or I have a compliance issue or something where you know, I just have to do it. I think you work backwards from that. Right? So what are we trying to do? Is there an opportunity to do it without adding any more tech? You know, is it just hey, we quote badly, and we just need to like be more disciplined on not letting the pricing get too low? Or do we need a system to help us do that, and if you know those goals, and then you have to sign up at an executive level, that you are going to go through the change management process, that you are going to go through this thing called the J curve. And it is like it's a law like gravity is a law, that you will become less efficient as you implement new technology. And then hopefully, the second half is not guaranteed, which is you get more efficient as you come up through this J shaped curve. Most things that fail are either companies that don't accept that that's the truth and think they're gonna get better the first day or who are unwilling to tell people that you have to do your job differently because you are buying a new system that works differently. And if you try to make it work that way, the old The old system works, then we're not going to be any better. So we might as well just not do it

Blythe Brumleve:

is it almost like a, I guess, a universal sign when a company is doing a big change order to, you know, big switch from one, you know, software provider to another, that the whole company is pretty much going to hate it because they have to redo all of those things, like how much of it is, I have to redo my job, but it's more of a psychological level like that, that they have to retrain themselves.

Brian Glick:

So they'll hate it if they're not engaged in the process from the beginning. Right, and the more you can engage downstream, sort of stakeholders that matter, like accounts payables, people, accounts, receivables, people, you know, line level operators in the evaluation process, so that you hear, you know, so they a, they feel heard, and B, so they are heard and can help you avoid making a mistake, you know, then then change management gets easier. I would say there's a sales component to change management as well. And if you come in, and you just say we're doing this, people get really kind of resistant, if you come back and say, Hey, we heard and we understand that this part of your job is awful. And we're investigating and are evaluating a tool and we'd like you to help us figure out if this is going to make a job better. That's going to be a lot easier to change process. Right? So doing the hard work. You know, and this is all things I learned from the former CIO that I worked for her name is Katherine Cooper. And she actually runs a change management focused, consultancy firm. They do warehouse implementations and inventory systems, what have you called World connections, and she really taught me the hard way that it's the meeting before the meeting, is where the real work is done, right, the sitting down with people and making sure they understand why we're doing things and, and taking the time. And then frankly, whether it's China or not, getting boxes and wires and getting things connected together is that's technical, the computer will ultimately do what you tell it to do. The people are the fun part and the hard part.

Blythe Brumleve:

And I imagine that from all of your experience in your 25 years within this space, you've seen a lot of things sort of come and go as far as technology is concerned, what does the current sort of freight tech landscape look like? Is there is it like 7030 Positive? Or do we still have a long way to go for you know, efficiency and optimization and all the things that you know, a business operator wants?

Brian Glick:

There's, it's a little trite to say it's a journey, not a destination, but it's also true. If you look at what we can do today, and you look at what when the day I started in this industry, we have already surpassed what we thought were the goals were I literally sat down with, with a couple of customers in 2001. And we're building this new system supply chain tracking system where like, if we can find out what product departed three days after it leaves. That would be amazing. Right, three days after it leaves overseas, if we can figure out what was put into that container. And that was the goal that was like on the wall was three days. Right? So the freight tech marketplace is always going to be improving. There's no such thing as good enough, because good enough is everything you need is 3d printed magically in your house at the moment you need and and cost $0. Right. So if we can get there, that's that's the goal, right? Is that logistics doesn't spiral post keeps moving? Right? Like the goalposts is your we're all on a treadmill, if you take make peace with that, you know, I think one of the really cool things about being in or entering an economic slump, which, you know, people get really concerned about is it's very distilling, right. So what you're going to see over the next couple of years is a lot of tech that was promising, but not practical starts to fade out. And things that are delivering actual improvements for those people at the disk level and for the people who manage the balance sheet are going to continue and it's this kind of thinning, thinning of the herd, if you will I get not probably not the nicest way to say it. But you know, that's, that's the upside to kind of a little bit tougher times is that it really proves the mettle of things that work.

Blythe Brumleve:

And I guess Speaking of things that that kind of work that I say kind of because one of the other buzzwords that I hear all the time are logistics as a service and visibility. Are those just kind of fluff terms or the not lasting, that will stick around.

Brian Glick:

So logistics as a service, as far as I'm concerned is just the same thing as logistics. Like I don't, I, we were a tech company, I've worked for multiple tech enabled three peels in my life, we were using systems and had websites and visibility in 2001. Right. And certainly things have gotten better. And there's a lot more you can do with tech. And, you know, we weren't able to put the real time data on the map. But we were managing large global supply chains for things moving in every direction, with relatively good, you know, three PL or four PL type service on top of them for our customers for many, many years. So I'm not 100% certain that that term is not a marketing term for something that is all that is very important. And it's just being repackaged to just reexpress how important it is. As far as visibility, it is table stakes nowadays, like you can't, you can't have a customer call you and say, I need 24 hours to figure out where your stuff is because I gotta go call the terminal. And I gotta call the trucker and I got to, like, that's not an acceptable answer, you know, in today's world, so you know, what the visibility providers have done to start pulling together and aggregating that data and getting it into data stream so that logistics as a service type providers can then give that data back to the customers and help them make good decisions is absolutely a real thing. And absolutely, it's not the end of the journey. But it's like the, you know, it's like saying, you know, we're going to do, you know, complicated mortgage brokerage, but we don't have anybody who knows how to value a house, right? Like, you have to have this foundational piece and the visibility is the foundational piece that you have to have in order to do these 10 Really cool derivative things on top of it.

Blythe Brumleve:

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Brian Glick:

So watch this space. We're actually I can talk about it. But we are we are in the process of developing an integration. A relatively generic integration, I think the first CRM on top of it will probably be HubSpot. But it'll eventually grow to other things to be able to start reconciling some of that information with TMSs. And one of the big questions that some of our customers have asked us to solve for them is the opportunity versus yield question. Because one of the big things in the marketing in the sales side, more so than the marketing is, you know, it's very easy for a sales rep to say hey, I just closed you know, Walmart and say, Okay, well, are we doing all of Walmart's freight tomorrow? I got us a million dollars. Okay, and then you come back six months later, it's like we got three trial shipments, right? We made 80 bucks and I flew you to warm I flew you to Arkansas, and we made 80 bucks, right? So being able to reconcile that data and the hard part is that A generic CRM software or market more martech in general, is built around this idea of opportunities and deals and closed contracts. And that is not what we do in this industry. And so the data models have to be rethought because the idea that you are, you know, and again, I'll show my limits of my, you know, truckload brokerage knowledge here. But this idea that in a CRM, I'm going to open an opportunity for every load, it's just not what they're built for, or the idea that I have a closed one customer, and therefore I don't need to market at them anymore. Doesn't make sense, either, right? Like you're competing for every load or on the air freight market, every shipment, whatever it is, every day. And so where we're spending our time and why we're building this slowly is to make sure that we don't just take two things that look the same as I've got a I've got a shipment, and that looked like it was a bit at one point, and therefore that's an opportunity, you do that you're going to break your martech because they're not expecting 57,000 opportunities against one account, a year, they're expecting for right and so all the workflows, so you've got to say, okay, my opportunity is a year's worth of Li of yield, and we need to aggregate the shipments and think about it differently. That's, like, you know, that's where this stuff gets really interesting is how to, you know, is that there's plenty of our tech out there. But none of it's built for a highly transactional kind of world that we live in.

Blythe Brumleve:

That's fascinating. So it gets in the, in what you're building, we'll bring you back on in the future in order to talk about it because I'm in, I want to ask a lot of questions. But I also want to protect you know, what you guys are got going on? And so I guess sort of my next question is, you know, in your in your world and your perfect freight tech world, what is missing from the freight tech landscape today that you hope will be solved in the future, or that maybe you're working on solving in the future?

Brian Glick:

I think the thing that I'm going to pick two because I can't pick one. The thing that personally, I am trying to drive us forward on and I spent a lot of time working on kind of in my thought leadership outside of necessarily our tech is traceability and environmental and social governance, right, and the ability to use logistics and supply chain data to help make good decisions about who we're buying from and get that data exposed to the consumer. Right and help consumers drive change by buying low carbon footprint, sustainably sourced and ethically sourced products. So I think there's a huge, huge, you know, I talked to some of the biggest companies in the world in that space, especially in apparel, and they're talking, they do it all on spreadsheets today. Right? And there's lots of tech coming out. But that tech doesn't work with anything. So they still have to figure out how to load it in and and I will sit in these meetings and go, did you know that your logistics department has 90% of the data you need today? And they're like, What do you mean, I'm like they have every order all the bills of materials, all this stuff, but we don't know how to give it to you in a way that's useful. So you end up sending a survey out to the factory. So that whole space to me is the thing I want fixed. The thing that I think has more practical short term benefit is rate management and pricing. And I think we are at the just the tip of the iceberg, especially in the international I think I think domestic and truckload is an LTL is a little bit more advanced. But this, this getting it dynamic pricing and getting out of custom annual contracts and spot market versus, you know, versus contract market and all of that, that there's a there's a world where getting a quote from a freight forwarder you know, the time we're talking about orders of magnitude difference, and it will make that make everyone more profitable that, you know, if you want to buy an online advertisement, like a single pop up in a single window on time, you know, there are software companies that run auctions for that space. Like they do all this stuff in the background of that they resolve those pricing auctions in five or 10 milliseconds, right, possibly less I haven't looked at in a long time. Meanwhile, we're going How do I take a quote process from a week down to an hour? Well, someday we're gonna get to that 10 millisecond thing. And how do we make sure that we're on a journey there that doesn't stop at an hour or stop it? I can type it in on the website and a bunch of things spin and then I get back a page it looks like Expedia and get to the point where, when a large forwarder wants to reconcile that or large shipper wants to reconcile that amongst their community, that this stuff is instantaneous and automated in a way that still protects the margins of the forwarders. And of the carriers, right, that we shouldn't see when this is all perfect. In some dream world, you shouldn't see these big swings in the market as badly because you won't have carriers chasing rates down to negative numbers, you won't have, you know, you'll have a more stable world where things are more liquid. And if you really want to get into this, Zvi, who runs Fritos, this is his favorite topic in the world to talk about. So my next guest for you?

Blythe Brumleve:

Yeah, I'm gonna be writing that down. I just made a little note to myself. Now, when we talk about bringing it, I guess back to sort of more of a last few questions, but but before I let you go, you know, Elon Musk obviously has been in the news seemingly every hour of the last, you know, six months, but he you want it one of the bigger I think story points that affects the freight industry is him cutting the stock gutting the staff of Twitter down to you know, I think it's something like 20% of the original staff proving that you can run a tech company with, you know, improved processes, and probably just focusing more on talent. I'm sort of paraphrasing here. But from the aspect of freight tech, we've seen a lot of layoffs, you know, in the last couple of months. Is there any correlation between what's going on in freight tech? And also how Ilan is choosing to gut the staff of his, quote unquote, technology company? And how that might affect the future of freight tech? Is it? Is it going to be kind of like a dangerous world and freight tech for the foreseeable future?

Brian Glick:

So a parse out a couple of things there, one, there are the there's the right way to do things in the wrong way, from sort of an ethical and treating people purpose. So his behaviors I vehemently against our corporate culture, and I am dude, I think they're the the there are polling, in my opinion, right. So the way he went about doing things, some of the things that are true, and if you look at them, from even what Salesforce or what Microsoft is doing, or, you know, other companies in tech, there, there has been this freeze in the market, as far as tech valuations, they were basically cut in half over the last year. And every tech company, who is privately held, and venture backed is being asked by their VCs to what we call extending runway, which is essentially spend less money, because we don't know when the market is going to come back. And you want to make sure you don't run out of money if you're operating at a loss. And if you're a publicly traded company, it's hey, we've got to kind of keep the numbers where they are so that we don't get hammered to the point where it can really damage employees, either because they have shares, or because you go to zero, and you're out of business, right? So companies are looking at that. And they are definitely trying to figure out how to either do more with less, or rationalize some, you know, and, you know, poor decision making, as far as maybe over hiring, when things were a little bit overheated. You know, Marc Benioff got a lot of trouble for the way that he framed all of this, because, again, not terribly empathetic in the framing, but it's this, you know, this, this thing that, you know, it's really hard as a CEO to sit there and say, Hey, I need to pull the plug on an unprofitable project. And it's, while it's hard as a CEO, it's, it's harder for the people who, you know, are subjected to that, and people who lose their jobs and who have to go home to their families and, and talk about that, that's what really matters. So the lack of empathy really upsets me. The reality that we made, you know, or that companies made some overly aggressive plays and have to pull back from them is is is out there. And what you're going to see specifically in the freight tech market, is a number of companies that will either sell to that will either sell to larger conglomerates for maybe pricing that they would have not expected to because they're getting low on cash or who adjust their business models to maybe bring cash forward in their sales cycle and, you know, do bigger partnerships with larger companies up front so that your, your cash flow looks better. Like these are things that venture capitalists weren't talking about a year ago, like cash was not a word you heard a lot in the VC space. You talked a lot more about growth. And so that change is very jarring and happened very, very fast. Now, those of us who are Want to add 25 years into this had been through two and a half down cycles in tech, right with the.com bust in the early 2000s. We had 2008. And then there was a littler one in 2016. This is a cycle and cycles. Also cycle back the world is an ending the fundamentals of why free tech isn't necessary or not, not changing. And frankly, the really good news is that when I talk to people in the broader venture community, and Jason Lemkin, who runs Sastre, which is a big events and blog, and podcast, for the SAS market, he said this, on the 20 vc podcast the other day, he said, you know, there are industries that are absolutely necessary, that are the ones who want to invest in and he called out healthcare is one of them. But logistics and supply chain and free Tech is one of them where, you know, we don't we, as I said earlier, we all move boxes, and the boxes aren't going to stop moving, there might be less of them, we might get paid less to move them for a little while. But you know, you can, you can certainly cancel your zoom subscription and use something cheaper, but you're not going to get rid of your TMS, right when in a downturn. And so, we are in a really good position as software companies in this industry, because what we do is vital and the best of us have really rapid ROIs, you know, an RPA company can come in and have an ROI. That's like a week, right? That's what you invest in, in downtime, which don't invest in is, hey, I'm going to use some sort of autonomous AI chat GPT magic thing that in three years is going to make your marketing 1% Maybe more effective. If all the stars align, and this technology evolves in a certain way that I'm assuming is going to happen is you're gonna go out of business,

Blythe Brumleve:

you really think so you really think like, maybe like a chat GPT is not going to operate? Well.

Brian Glick:

What I mean by that is that's the latest buzzword, right? So if somebody can come in and say, Go walk into a CFO, and that's really the person you sell to in a downturn, not the CIO, and say, We're gonna use chat GPT. And I'm gonna guarantee you 3% Better close rate on your calls, at the same margin, in the next 30 days that I want 50 grand? Absolutely. If I say, Hey, I'm going to use GPT. And it's going to make your content better. And that's your sales pitch, get out of my office, right? Like, there's, there's a difference there. And you got to be able to say, we're going to do this thing, and it's gonna return you this value. And when things are all overheated, you don't have to say stuff like that people are like, oh, yeah, I have an innovation team. They would love to talk to you, and they'll give you 100 grand to go play with this. Nobody's gonna do that anymore. That's that's, that's more what I'm saying. Right?

Blythe Brumleve:

You have to prove profitability, not burn. And you know, what is it $3 million a day, I think is what jet GBT is burning,

Brian Glick:

right? Something like, yeah, like that's, and I understand that they're investing in the long term, right? sure that there is likely value there. But it's not. But people like to kind of put the edges of the business case together and then sort of wave their hands, and never finished the last piece of math it says, And how is this going to help me do one of those three things I was talking about at the beginning, make more money, save money or be more compliant? Right? If you can't answer one of those three questions, you're, you're not surviving a downturn.

Blythe Brumleve:

Do you see any any sort of similar tools or technologies related to AI, similar to what sort of chat GPT is the buzzword? And I guess, in regards to taking over with marketing, for example, do you see anything similar in the freight tech space that we're in AI language model tool could really come in and revolutionise or is that a false false hope?

Brian Glick:

So I think the language model piece, I don't know, what I do think is the the, if these tools can do what they appear to do, which is understand context better, or at least give the illusion of understanding context better. That opens up the ability to start coming after the jobs of the people who thought their jobs were safe, right? Like, what is my pricing strategy for next year, where like the next, the directors, the VPs, are now you know, we always said that this level employees job is at risk. Because we don't need 50 people doing data entry we can do with two people in an RPA tool, if they can understand the context and be able to realize that I need to go out to Apple and talk to them about this unfolding thing that we see related to the chip market and the impact of the chips act moving onshoring chips and do that in a more aggressive way that actually creates more sales or says Hey, because of the chips act in two years, this trade lane is going to go down. So maybe we shouldn't make this acquisition of a forwarder, who's based in Taiwan, based on the fact that they move all of this product for Qualcomm and Qualcomm's gonna probably move this to Texas, because this news article says that Congress is going to sign this agreement in, in the next Congress, or whatever the case may be that contextualization, if they can do things like that. And, God, we're miles and miles away from that, and the shine will come off of this, and it'll be a long journey to get there. But if that is theoretically possible, then yeah, then a lot of things can happen.

Blythe Brumleve:

Yeah, I think it's just it's one of those things, that it's fun, it's a fun tool to play around with chat GPT being one of them. And you know, it can help with like getting a different viewpoint on your own words, but it still takes that nuance that that level of experience that you've had to be able to look at something like that and say no, that's way off. That's way,

Brian Glick:

I can tell you one of the one of the secrets of how we do our marketing and blog posts on social media that chatbot GPT has a potentially a very big impact on when I write my blog posts for the company, oftentimes, I have trouble because I don't have a lot of time in my day to like, get my brain into that mode of like, thinking of the structure of the story, where the of what we're trying to do, and I will record like a three minute just audio, send it off to someone on our team, who will write a blog post on it. Now, that blog post never sees the light of day. And I then open up another blank window and rewrite, you know, I use that as a starting point to kind of get the shell together and say, okay, and then it helps me think oh, no, no, no, applying my 25 years expertise. This isn't right. And this should I should talk about this other thing. And it should be kind of the thoughts should be reordered, or sometimes I take it in a 90 degree different direction. Using that person, when I record that three minutes of audio, if they can just upload that to chat GPT and send me back the, you know, as as my head of marketing called like the thing that a 10th grader would write. That's enough, like that piece of that step, we can likely start to automate and we are experimenting with it. But I chat up T is a long way from at risk of sounding ego maniacal like a long way from reading that finished piece that I'm going to do that brings that nuances subtlety

Blythe Brumleve:

100%. I've tried it with blog posts, and I'm like, it's not so good. But I did take a transcript from a blog or from a conversation from a podcast conversation. And I said, Can you write a summary based on it? And that was probably 80%. There, there were a couple of things that I was like I never mentioned, you know, influencers in this piece, but yet it wrote about it. And I was like, Well, you know that that's where the proofreading still comes into play, the nuance the expertise, it's a tool in your arsenal, it can't be the the entire toolbox,

Brian Glick:

you know, and it's funny bringing it back to TMS is same thing, right? That, you know, this this magic theory that your TMS is going to run your forwarding business. It's a tool in the toolbox, right. And RPA is a tool in the toolbox and rate management tool and toolbox. But you versus the forwarder, who's sitting in the next office over from you, you know, in the office building, you guys have you each have to decide who you are. And then pick the tools that work to be the company you want to be like are we the people first relationship driven, high value white glove selling to, you know, to a tough industry, or we the I'm going to move your generic widgets in a generic container really cheap really fast, right. And based on that you pick a lot of different tools. If you're that second company cheap and fast. Let's have GPT ratio marketing because all you're trying to do is turn out SEO, and let your TMS deal with all of your customers and let a robot automate all the responses to them. If you're the other company, you're investing in pricing tools, you're investing in something like winmore to do RFP management because you're out there taking risk of traveling to go visit your customers and get better when those deals. You know, it's like a whole different set of tech for two companies that are moving boxes. Right and so knowing who you are is really important on every scale of that for for tech investment.

Blythe Brumleve:

That was a perfect way to bring the whole conversation full circle because Brian, I know we're up against the clock here you got to you got to run. But real quick, tell folks where they can follow more of your work. I know you got the podcast that you're starting back up again. give folks a sense of where they can find your work.

Brian Glick:

Oh yeah, absolutely. So chain.io And then everything we do is on LinkedIn. We are kind of firing back up the podcast this year, which is usually me and a bunch of interior industry executives getting real nerdy on on real, real complicated topics and also trying to human Ask them a little bit. So that'll also be on the LinkedIn stream. That's, that's really the best place to follow us. And then, you know, the website is the company names. So that's pretty easy. chain.io

Blythe Brumleve:

Brian, it was a pleasure to pick your brain for an hour. And looking forward this conversation for a while, so hopefully you won't be a stranger to the show. But thank you again for joining. It really was a pleasure. Thanks for having me. I hope you enjoyed this episode of everything is logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. If you liked this episode, do me a favor and sign up for our newsletter. I know what you're probably thinking, oh God, another newsletter. But it's the easiest way to stay updated when new episodes are released. Plus, we drop a lot of gems in that email to help the one person marketing team and folks like yourself who are probably wearing a lot of hats at work in order to help you navigate this digital world a little bit easier. You could find that email signup link along with our socials and past episodes. Over at everything is logistics.com And until next time, I'm Blythe and go Jags

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan.

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.