Solving Logistics Problems with the Right Technology
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This episode provides insightful perspectives on logistics technology from Brian Glick, a technology leader with over 25 years of experience. He discusses AI, Internet of Things, integrating systems, and key considerations for implementing new tech. He also provides valuable advice on leveraging technology to solve logistics problems and drive business value.




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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Blythe Brumleve: 0:05

Welcome into another episode of everything is logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. We are proudly presented by SPI logistics and I am your host. Blythe Brumleve, I am happy to welcome back in for the second time in 2023. Brian Glick he is the CEO over at Chain. io and I was just telling you this. I was sort of fan-girling for a little bit here, but anytime I see your name as far as like an interview guest on a podcast or, you know, a YouTube video, it's an immediate save to my library because I'm going to learn something new every time. So thank you for coming back on the show and excited to dive into this conversation.

Brian Glick: 0:42

I'm flattered and also now a little nervous to have to live up to that introduction, but I'm sure we'll make it happen.

Blythe Brumleve: 0:49

Yes, definitely Now. Now, for folks who may not be familiar with your career history, you sort of give us that eagle eye view of you. Know your history within logistics space. I believe you're a former freight forwarder. You know also, you know, involved in technology across the space, I think for about 25 years now. So vast amount of experience. I don't think I covered it all, but did I come close?

Brian Glick: 1:15

Pretty close. So again, I'm a college dropout who got a job running wires under desks at a customs broker in 1999, and they had to explain to me what customs was and what broker was and really genuinely said I'm going to do this for three months and then find something more interesting and 24 years later haven't found anything more interesting yet. Then this whole global logistics space. I had a software company at one point before this one that did customs related tariff management for big global brands and worked inside of forwarders. Lucky to be one of the few people, I think, who has run IT and sales activity and really kind of has always been able to kind of bring that all together.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:03

Since you brought it up. I was going to save my fifth grader questions for later on in the show, but you brought up that you know that you were explained to like what a freight forwarder is and I think for a lot of my audience they're more on the US-based freight brokerage side of things. Can you explain as a fifth grader the differences or there's a lot of similarities between freight forwarders and freight brokers, but what are maybe some key differences between those two fractions?

Brian Glick: 2:28

So probably, the biggest difference between a freight forwarder and a freight broker from a domestic versus international side is that when you're a freight broker, you live very much in this kind of transactional world of I've got to buy and sell and I'm load to load and it's you know, whereas a freight forwarder on the international side, you're managing a process that has a lot more parties involved. So there's customs, there's you know, you're working with a customer across both air and ocean, and you're become more of a travel agent, which is an analogy that people like to use, and then it breaks down really fast. But so you're dealing with a more complex process that starts in another country and has a lot more parties that you're trying to coordinate than domestic brokerage, which tends to be. You know, it's you, it's the trucker, it's the customer and the facility, it's being picked up and delivered, but you don't have 150 different companies involved.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:32

And so it's a lot more moving parts.

Brian Glick: 3:34

you know, for the sake of the industry, but it's also a little more stable in the sense of you tend to be doing repeat business and you're not like bidding on every load and, like I've worked with freight brokers as well, that you would what freight brokers do is a much more intense process. What freight forwarders do is a more complex process, so you're more consultative with your customers.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:03

Oh, interesting Because I would imagine, with you know everything that's gone on in the market over the last few years that it's just been a situation of where forwarders and brokers are like are explaining what's going on in the world to shippers and trying to help them understand rate fluctuations.

Brian Glick: 4:20

Oh yeah, absolutely, I think. I think really the different. I've always felt that, like freight brokers still live in a world that feels like a boiler room all day, every day, right, where's fuel going? Where's what can I get? How can I fight for this load? It's like it's a very intense process and certainly all of my forwarder friends are going to be mad at me for saying that what we do is less intense because we have entire vessels stuck in ports and airlines that aren't moving things and you can't get it in and out of this airport and this and that and the other. It's still chaotic, but it's more. The relationships tend to be a little bit more longer and stable with you know you're saying, okay, well, I'm going to help you with this trade lane over a period of time in a way, that is, you know, you're able to kind of step back from it a little bit than that kind of raw intensity of you know that you see, sometimes on the brokerage side, yeah, because I would imagine, with brokers, that you might be even lucky to have a conversation with your shipper.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:21

It's more or less like you're playing defense instead of being on the offense. Is maybe that a safe comparison?

Brian Glick: 5:28

Yeah, and then when you and then when you look at like a customs broker, you are in a very long term decade or multi decade relationship because you're dealing with compliance and you tend to be doing quarterly business reviews with your customers and you often have 100% of their business or you know you're one of two or three people. So you're even another step back from that transactional world and into a deep so there's like all sorts of different levels of relationships in this industry, depending on kind of how commoditized the thing you do is to the customer you're doing it with.

Blythe Brumleve: 6:01

See, this is why I love having you on the show, because you could break down these complex things that feel complex from the outside, because you know and this is part of you know your goal as a company, chainio. You know connecting the industry silos, because there are so many silos within this space. I spent the better part of the last, you know, decade working in an asset based freight brokerage and I had no idea about maritime, I had no idea about customs brokerage and freight forwarders, and so you just shed a light on, you know, a whole other set of perspectives that I wouldn't have even thought of. So great start to today's show.

Brian Glick: 6:36

And here's where the humility comes in, because I do want to be very honest about what I know and I don't know. I've worked in companies that have had freight brokerage arms, but I've never had to live the life and the one thing I've learned in this industry everything that seems simple, someone else, there's like a thousand foot hole of complexity under it that you have no idea about, and then every one of those has another thousand holes underneath it. Right, like I say, oh, customs, there's like a million subtopics under customs, and I'm sure that everything, everything that the person at the desk across the hall from you in a big company that you think looks so simple, like accounts, payable or receivable or whatever they're all infinitely complicated, and so we all have to bring a lot of humility to like the fact that, oh yeah, that other thing is always easy and what I do is always very complex.

Blythe Brumleve: 7:28

And I was just. I was going to save some of these questions for later, but since we're already on the topic, you know I saw that you had posted on LinkedIn a little while ago talking about some tips for forwarders to, you know, have these conversations with their shippers and what kind of topics that they should be talking about. I'm curious as to you know how are, what are some of those strategies, and I wonder if there's any similarities between brokers and and forwarders that they can kind of borrow from each other to continue to have these educational conversations with their customers.

Brian Glick: 7:58

Well, the good news is, as you and I are recording this, we just did a webinar about an hour ago on that topic, so it's very fresh in my mind and we'll we'll get you the link for the for the notes. But the the big topic that we see for any logistics provider who's going out and talking to a shipper now about next year, is remembering that, like 2018, 2019, we were talking a lot about innovation and then the world fell apart. And then the world fell apart and all we were talking about was we can get stuff done for you. We can get loads moved, whether that load doesn't matter, what mode that load is on, we can get something somewhere, was a good enough answer. And then we all hit a downturn and then it was okay, we can, we'll, we'll figure out how to be cheap and get the loads moved. And now there is some indications that we're heading towards, potentially, some sort of recovery sometime in the year, or at least a new norm like a stabilization, and that it's now time to go back to those customers and start thinking a little bit more, like we were talking in 18 and 19 about. Here's how we're going to help you be better as a company you know, be more on time and full, be more reliable to your customers. And we're going to bring tech to the table. But we're not going to BS you and say that, okay, tech and AI or whatever is going to fix everything but it that I think the customers are now going to be in a position where they're more open to real business value from their providers. That, as long as you bring it to your customer with a business term first, not with a tech term first, we're going to help you be more on time and full. We're going to help you be more cost effective, more reliable, and here's the tech we're going to bring to the table to do that.

Blythe Brumleve: 9:51

What kind of I guess the technology solutions that there's because we're going to talk about AI, of course you know later on in this episode. But I'm curious as to what you think. You know the perceptions have evolved around technology over the last 25 years. You know, over the last few years it feels like it's just been a wave of hope and decline. Hope and decline. But I'm curious is that the normal, is that the sort of the normal attitude towards technology? Or is it very slow to change, slow to that resistance?

Brian Glick: 10:26

So in 2001, I had supply vendors telling us XML files are going to fix everything. All the things will be better because of XML files. You know, in 2007, I had software vendors telling us and people don't even use this word anymore but service oriented, architecture, oriented architectures are going to fix everything. Give Oracle or IBM a million dollars. They will implement a service oriented architecture, will reenvision your company and it will fix everything. So these cycles are forever. There's no time where we won't be in a hype cycle on something, and but at the same time, every one of those things makes us incrementally a little bit better. So, as long as you don't get too excited or too disappointed when the cycle doesn't turn out to reach its full potential, you can see this steady progress over decades. And I mean, I think, the biggest difference, though. The people in the industry that I grew up with who said I don't want to change are not in the industry anymore, like even the people the you know quote unquote old people in the industry now grew up in a generation where they already had a home computer or they already, you know, knew about innovation. There was a time where we had people who would come in every day and say I don't want to change. I just want to drive around the country and visit my customers and get them drunk and get us another load Right and that was how business was done. That just so like we don't have to fight that fight anymore. Everybody understands that tech is helpful, which just now. The question is which tech is helpful?

Blythe Brumleve: 12:17

And that's that's. That's a perfect segue into my next question because, you know, I really, as we sort of end out, we're in Q4 of 2023, everybody's budget budgeting and looking forward to, you know, 2024. What does you know sort of the current tech landscape look like relative to the biggest logistical problems that we're facing?

Brian Glick: 12:40

I think what's really interesting and exciting, but not sexy, is that the tech landscape is more mature than it's ever been. So pre pandemic, 2018, 2019, everybody was talking about new things. I was at a conference earlier this year I can't remember which one and somebody was really disappointed. They're like there's nothing new here. These are all the same vendors that were here last year. They're all just telling us the same stuff. And I'm like that's a good thing, because now you can start asking about our OIs right, and you can start like having mature conversations with the vendors that are still here, because a whole bunch of them aren't because they've gone out of business or because they've been gobbled up into other things, or because their idea wasn't that great or it was too cutting edge. And now we're in a world where you can talk about a business problem and there's probably a vendor somewhere Once you've identified the thing you want to improve. I want to be cheaper, right? Well, here's all these automated rate management or rate calculation engines that are going to help you always have the lowest bid that still gets you margin right. Or I want to be the strategic solutions provider? Well, here's all these software that can help you help your customer with network planning right and get up to that next level in the C level conversations about where they should be putting their inventory so that you can move it more efficiently. You don't have to like it's not all about what's the new tech, it's about picking the tech that aligns to your business, because there are mature software companies now, whereas I think we went through, maybe I would say there was a bunch of software companies in the early 2000s who did amazing things in TMSs and order management and all of that, and then there was sort of this gap where, like there was nothing new and then there was all this new stuff around machine learning and AI and APIs and all of this. Well, now those companies are more mature and now's the time to be able to like start delivering on projects that actually show value.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:46

Are you in freight sales with a book of business looking for a new home, or perhaps you're a freight agent in need of a better partnership? These are the kinds of conversations we're exploring in our podcast interview series called the Freight Agent Trenches, sponsored by SPI Logistics. Now I can tell you all day that SPI is one of the most successful logistics firms in North America, who helps their agents with back office operations, such as admin, finance, it and sales. But I would much rather you hear it directly from SPI's freight agents themselves, and what better way to do that than by listening to the experienced freight agents tell their stories behind the how and the why they joined SPI? Hit the freight agent link in our show notes to listen to these conversations or, if you're ready to make the jump, visit spi3plcom and so you know. As you were talking, you know you had mentioned a couple different phrases because I looked at your LinkedIn. I pretty much stocked it earlier today in order to come up with some good questions, and I loved this article that you posted about a blog back in 2018 talking about logistics tech buzzwords for 2019. And you mentioned words like blockchain, ai, apis, internet of Things, etc. And for AI, you called it back in 2018, you said it's real, it's here and it's going to be everywhere.

Brian Glick: 16:05

I did and I also said, if I recall correctly I don't know the article in front of me that I caveated that with you, know, but you have to find the right solutions for it, right that nothing fit like it. Like I said before, nothing fixes everything, right? So, you know, my prediction on blockchain back then was that it had some very specific use cases, but they weren't universal use cases, right, and there was going to be some things around compliance, some things around digital twins where it might be interesting, and with AI, I think it is going to be pervasive. In the same way that we don't talk about software now that has databases, right, Every software has a database, it has a data store. Well, there was a time when that was a new concept and now it's literally in everything, right, like everything you have can store data and retrieve it. Like you don't. Like. There was a time when that sounded weird or innovative. Ai is going to end up like that, like it's going to be in things, but it is not, in and of itself, a thing that you don't buy AI. You buy a solution, and this is the one thing I'm going to bang on for the next 25 years. You buy a solution to a business problem, and if your software vendor uses AI to solve that problem, great. If they don't use AI to solve that problem and they still solve that problem, also great, Right. So ask them why they're using AI and what value, what extra value, it's bringing to you.

Blythe Brumleve: 17:38

Yeah, because I think that for a lot of business, especially over the last year you know, chatgpt was launched about a year ago. It was the fastest app to 100 million users. So it's becoming that just sort of like a common phrase of oh AI is going to take all of our jobs that just sort of doomerism around just the concept of technology. But if you were calling these shots back in 2018 and some of the freight executives that I've spoken to, they're already using AI, but not in the same way that chatGPT, large language models, that sort of infrastructure. So if you could maybe highlight some of the use cases that AI is playing a role in logistics tech right now, is it mainly just parsing through all of the different data sets?

Brian Glick: 18:27

So AI is a marketing term, right. So people put a lot of things underneath it right. So the thing we were using in 2018 was generally machine learning, and it was about taking past information and trying to predict the future. Okay, so this has been all the loads we've ever moved, and so therefore, we think, based on combining that with weather data and demand data and economic data, we think that the next load is going to be this price. That was the machine learning revolution, and large companies that have enough data or software vendors who aggregate data, have kind of like that's already an accepted thing. What we saw with chatGPT in these large language models, is this idea of getting closer to solving creative problems or filling in kind of finishing thoughts, right. So before we connected, I was writing a blog post, and every blog post I write now I use AI to help me think through the problem. So you know, I'm writing a blog post about our position as a neutral software company and what that means for our customers. So I gave AI, I gave chatGPT like six bullets of kind of what I wanted to get out, and then let it write a longer blog post for me based on my original thoughts, and it kind of fleshed out some things. I was like, hey, maybe that point isn't as clear as I thought or what, and then I used that to rewrite. Well, that's a different kind of technology and where is that going to be useful in the day-to-day life outside of the marketing department? Or we use it internally. Now it's very good for helping coders finish their code. It's very good. We use it from a strategic planning process to like. I encourage my team. I'm like if you have a thought for a new initiative, put it into AI and have it give you the ideas of how it would write a PowerPoint around it, and sometimes it brings up other ideas. But it's a jumping off point. It's not a finishing point In the day-to-day logistician's lifecycle. You're going to talk to chatbots now more than you ever did, and you may or may not know it, and they're going to seem more human. But it's not going to replace jobs. It's going to just change jobs. And every technology revolution somebody says this is going to replace all the people. Sewing machines are going to replace all the people and whatever else, everything since then. There are always people whose jobs disappear because that skill is not needed anymore and other jobs that get created and unfortunately they're not always evenly distributed. We're the same person can move to the other job, which sucks, but I don't think this replaces all the jobs and logistics I think we're going to. Every time we solve something, we invent a new problem to have.

Blythe Brumleve: 21:22

It's like a whack-a-mole, like every time you knock one down, there is another, or we just go?

Brian Glick: 21:25

how can we go further? I mean, like the idea of e-commerce. I mean like e-commerce just changed so many things in the way that we move boxes around, but it created a whole new set of jobs of people who, like the first machine learning application I ever really saw in practice, was one of the parcel carriers using machine learning to figure out what carton sizes they should carry in facilities that were now being disrupted because they used to move huge shipments to retailers and were now having to move parcel e-com, and so they were using it to figure out, well, how many cartons do I need to have and what sizes, when I have people buying these very mixed orders. Like that job of the machine learning guy who had to figure that all out and it was a guy, he's, his job didn't exist before all of this.

Blythe Brumleve: 22:20

Yeah, I mean like social media coordinators, podcasters. Those roles didn't exist 10, 15 years ago, unless you were very early adopter in a lot of those different platforms. Do you foresee how we talk to chat, GPT for ideation and things like that? Do you foresee that happening from a logistical standpoint for maybe like a customs broker, where they have a specific issue and they can talk to their own data set of their own large language model that's personal to them? Do you foresee a situation where that might happen and that might be beneficial?

Brian Glick: 22:57

Absolutely yes. What I think we are much further away from and I'm going to use the self-driving car thing here every year. It seems like next year they're going to be here the idea of that system making the final decision. I think we're pretty far away from, much, much further than it feels. But the idea that, look, the other day I was trying to do a contract with someone and I know you do not use chat GPT to be your lawyer that is a really stupid thing to do. But there was, like I was trying to remember this one concept around exactly how to phrase this one thing in a contract that I did 100 times. And I just went into chat GPT and I described the problem and it was like, oh, you're talking about this. And then I was like, ok, it brought me back into it. So if I'm a customs broker and I'm like, hey, my customer, I don't remember exactly this thing, but my customer is trying to figure out how to save money on bringing stuff in from South America, maybe that prompts you to remember that there's the Dominican Republic Central American Free Trade Agreement and then you're back on track. That's where it's valuable, not in finishing the whole Free Trade Agreement program for that customer.

Blythe Brumleve: 24:19

So it kind of sounds like chat. Gpt in particular is very much a core part of your day, which maybe wasn't the case a year ago.

Brian Glick: 24:27

Oh, absolutely, and again, it's a core part of my day and I'm glad that I've been through a few technology cycles so I know when it should not be a part of my day and I know that it is not the only part of my day, but I find it to be the same way that there was a time when Google was not a part of my day and I now use Google a lot to do searches, to figure things out that I used to have to physically, am old enough to have had encyclopedias in my house. We did too. So that's better, but it doesn't mean that I have outsourced my entire brain to Google, just parts of it, where Google's good at it. And ChatGPT is going to be the same thing right, it's going to help us with things, but we're still in the driver's seat, for that self-driving car is not going to be self-driving for a very, very, very long time.

Blythe Brumleve: 25:33

Are there any other use cases for AI in logistics outside of maybe like ChatGPT, of course, but outside of maybe their own machine learning, or is that machine learning essentially the only use case in logistics?

Brian Glick: 25:49

No, I think that there's so many things around like image processing and all of the things we can do nowadays. I mean, I see these demos of I can't remember who it was Somebody just bought a bunch of Boston robotics robots that can unload a trailer autonomously right, and it's like a suction cup and an arm, but they show you in the demo what it sees and how it's able to process the real world and use all of these algorithms to figure out the boxes. And OK, if I pick this box up from the top, it's going to fall off the bottom and all of these things. But it's so pervasive that I think that's what you're going to see. It's just, everything is going to have a little of it, but the thing you're buying is unloading the trailer faster, not AI for AI sake.

Blythe Brumleve: 26:44

Yeah, I think that that's super important to keep in mind. And now, reflecting on the buzzwords that you predicted in 2018, what are some of those buzzwords that you're predicting for 2024? Not to put you on the spot or anything, but what are some of the, I guess, the buzzwords that you're thinking about that maybe is going to be around for a while, versus something that probably won't be?

Brian Glick: 27:08

I mean I feel like AI has sucked all of the air out of the room, and kind of rightfully so, because the potential genuinely is there. You know what? I still don't think we've fully exploited IoT, and I know it's not as buzzwordy now, but you know, you've got your ELDs. But on the ocean freight side, we're just starting to see the carriers invest in putting IoT on the containers and what happens when you can start using that data to do things that we haven't even thought of as possible before. A lot of the carriers are just putting Starlink internet onto the vessels and so now I've got to connect the container on a vessel with internet access and I've got a perishable product or a temperature control product in that thing. And I can understand that certainly I can't take a helicopter out to that ship if something goes wrong, but I might know that I have an at-risk product 20 days earlier now in my process because that container was compromised in some way, and this is all new to us. And I think that we've got this fund foundational infrastructure going in for IoT, but we haven't started exploiting it yet. The innovation that's going to come on connected world and this bridging of the physical and the virtual world. The biggest companies in the world are just scratching the surface, and the rest of us are just kind of waiting for it to be more accessible.

Blythe Brumleve: 28:51

And when you talk about the internet of things, is that more or less just digital twins replicating the real world environment, a digital environment, or is the internet of things more encompassing of a lot of different sectors?

Brian Glick: 29:04

I think it's more than digital twins. So digital twins is a really interesting thing if you've got a lot of data and a lot of modeling and you're trying to do all of these things. But if I import a friend who exports from Columbia like, let's say, 20 containers a month of sugar, he's not building a digital twin model of his 20 containers a month. But if he can get more data around where those containers are and whether they're actually moving and whether that's being stored properly, like that's meaningful information to him and he can take that information and do things that are less of a marketing glossy and more of just my freight provider can now tell me the position of that container on a ship when containers fall overboard on that ship. I have another friend who she had lost containers off of a vessel out of Vancouver, sort of on the tail end of the pandemic. There were storms and they fell over a sport. It took her weeks to find out whether her containers were the ones that fell overboard. I mean, 20,000 containers on a ship she had, let's say, 10 of them. The odds are low, but you don't know when everything's connected. You know that container is now on the bottom of the ocean. It's no longer online like that kind of stuff, or on the roadside. I mean, just as these things converge, the ability to really know. Ok, I know they said that this dock is going to be open, but can I see that that dock is actually available, as I'm pulling into the yard and all of these things? When there's sensors everywhere, really practical little things get easier. The same way is like paying with your phone versus having to go get cash. It's not sexy once you're doing it, but oh my god, was that amazing the first time?

Blythe Brumleve: 31:05

And so that's such a great comparison because you think about those friction points of the half a second that it takes to take out your wallet and pay for something versus just tapping your phone is something that we never knew that we needed until we just started getting used to doing it. And so when we think about some of these larger logistical problems that we're trying to solve, essentially customers just want their freight there on time and reliably and hopefully at a cheaper rate than what they were paying maybe the previous year before. As a business owner that is providing these logistic solutions, how do you know or maybe what questions should you be asking to figure out where that technology fits into your business so that you can explain those little moments of frustration that you've eased for the customer?

Brian Glick: 31:57

So I think my personal superpower, when I'm out talking to our customers, is being willing to ask one question what is your boss being judged on? Ok, so I'm talking to somebody in logistics. They say, ok, well, who do you report to? Well, I report into the head of supply chain. Well, what's he being judged on? Or what's she being judged on? And so if they say, oh well, we just have this thing where now everyone of our executives has a CO2 emissions part of their bonus this year, that's new. So well, now I know what to talk to you about. Now I know how to separate myself from all the other freight brokers in here, because what I'm going to talk to you about is how we're going to reduce your idle time, which is going to reduce your emissions footprint and make your boss happy. And so when we all live everyone in freight lives in a somewhat commoditized environment, at the end of the day, there's boxes and they move places, being able to listen and hear what your particular customers care about. Then talk about technology. If you open the conversation by blabbing on about that new tech you've installed, you don't know how to make the customer care about it. If you listen to them, then you can figure out how to take the tech you've invested in and tell a story that matters to that customer.

Blythe Brumleve: 33:26

I love that, especially from a marketing standpoint. So many marketers would be best served to listen to those types of statements and then crafter messaging around those problem areas and as we dive into the problems that are existing for a lot of these different business leaders and how maybe technology can fill the gaps and solve some of those problems. There was another post that you had mentioned about the. I guess not the value, but the potential value that you could gain from not having what did you call a disconnection debt in organizations. Can you explain what?

Brian Glick: 34:03

that is and why it's such a problem. That was a Harvard Business Review term that they came up with. I don't think it rolls off the tongue very well as you just proved. I don't actually like the words, but the there's a world of haves and have nots when it comes to technology and supply chain. You go to Walmart, you go to Georgia Pacific, you go to these big Siemens and they've got all this connectivity and all of this stuff and these dashboards and what have you, and then there's this huge chasm. And then there's all of these people who have email and texting and that's their TMS and there's some Excel sprinkled in there somewhere. The disconnection debt is that even in those big companies, when those big companies are interacting with the small ones, or even inside the big ones and they don't like to talk about this there's somebody who's logging into a carrier website, looking at the status of a load or an ocean container or an air freight move and then retyping it into that other system so that it's magically automated to the customer. Those people are all over this industry and every one of them is introducing latency and inaccuracy and fixing that. Making sure that the basic wiring of this giant machine that we're all part of is not people is often ignored because it's not sexy, but I had a conversation a couple of years ago with a freight forwarder in Asia who was saying they couldn't buy integration and software to solve this problem because their labor was so cheap there that they couldn't adjust the fire, replacing it with software. Because we're paying somebody $1, $2 an hour, you got to get a lot of efficiency from a $100,000 piece of software. Then they came back and they said okay, now I have to do this because my customer is showing real-time statuses to their customer and, no matter how cheap my labor is, they can't type fast enough and they can't type accurately enough. The value of solving that digital disconnect or whatever that. I think I got that right.

Blythe Brumleve: 36:15

Disconnection debt.

Brian Glick: 36:17

Disconnection debt. We're never saying that again. Solving that problem of these I always called swivel neck. I've got this monitor and that monitor and I got to type it from this monitor over to that monitor is now about so much more than just labor savings. It's about real-time visibility and accuracy. You have to solve it, even if it's expensive.

Blythe Brumleve: 36:41

How do you know when enough is enough when it comes to technology?

Brian Glick: 36:47

When you can't explain it to your CFO and if you're a small company, you don't have a CFO go ask your spouse whether the money that could be coming into the bank account is better invested in this. And if you can't explain why, then you've hit enough. Real simple. If you can sit there and you can't look. If you're running a business whether you're a one-person shop or whether you're UPS you've got two numbers. You've got the number at the top, which is how much money you bring in even the money at the bottom, which is how much money's left. You can put all sorts of magic inside of there. If you can't tell yourself which of those numbers you're impacting, you're not doing the right project. I love CFOs because they are wonderful at having very excited young people come into their offices and making them walk out with their heads down. I know, but it was so cool.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:48

I suffered this earlier this year because I just felt myself just really diving into the world of chatGPT and even Claude and Google's bar to some extent Between all of those platforms and then learning maybe like a new CRM or a new video editing tool. It just felt really overwhelming and it caused a big delay in my overall production value and my overall concentration value. I'm thinking about other small business owners that are working in freight that may be experiencing some of this, just almost like overload of technology solutions and analysis by paralysis, or paralysis by analysis, where you're not exactly sure which tool to dive into. As a small business owner, how do you make those decisions on what to invest in and what not to invest in?

Brian Glick: 38:42

The first thing to remember and I will say this to everybody who's out there listening, and everyone is going to nod their head and agree with me your TMS sucks. Your TMS sucks because the job that a TMS does sucks and the data that's coming into it is garbage and the thing it does is hard and it's never exactly how you want it, it's never optimized, but the TMS you're going to change to also sucks. It sucks for a different reason in a different spot. Yours is amazing at real time tracking, and that one sucks at real time tracking, but it's better at building the customers. The bar for introducing something new into your business should be higher than it's new, and it should also be higher than what. I don't love, what I have today, because you're also going to have problems with the next thing. I think the bar for introducing new technology in most companies is actually too low, which is a scary thing to say as someone who sells software for a living, but it is. I think that, and the size of company matters a lot in that. If you've got a billion dollar bottom line, go invest some of that in some things that are going to fail. If losing 20% of your revenue because you got distracted is going to put you out of business. Stick with what you got because, or buy something that 40 of your friends are already using successfully. Get some real world referrals. Don't be on the bleeding edge if it matters.

Blythe Brumleve: 40:24

I think that's probably a good place to jump to with you and your company and the services that you guys provide For folks who may not be familiar. Can you give us an overview of some of the solutions that you guys are offering over at chainio?

Brian Glick: 40:42

What we do is. Our slogan is we move the data that moves your freight. What we do is we connect all of the systems, whether it's your applications, the shippers applications, the different software companies, the freight audit and pay tools. All of these different things have to communicate electronically. We have plugins so that, instead of having to do an IT project every time you want two things to talk to each other, you take plugin from system A and plugin from system B. In many cases they work together very smoothly. In a lot of cases there's a little bit of tweaking. That still happens. We don't like to oversell what we do. We're this network that lets all of these things connect together so that when you do live in a world with lots of software, that software is communicating with each other instead of the swivel neck of. I've got four monitors. Now I've got to take stuff from this carrier website and put it into my TMS. I also have to go into four kites for my customer and manually key it over here and into project 44 for this other customer and key it over here and into this and that. Let's get all of that smoothed out. And then I have to retype my invoice three times because I need to put it into my customer's freight audit platform and my accounting software and my TMS. That noise is the foundational underlying crap that drags profitability down and it's our job to get that stuff to go away.

Blythe Brumleve: 42:05

I would imagine that process mapping is something that regularly has to be done at some of these companies that are looking to implement some of these solutions. Is that a safe assumption?

Brian Glick: 42:16

Yes, when we demo our software, the first thing that we show is that, when you go to create a new integration with us, the words that come up on the screen are not XML and JSON and API and blockchain. They are advanced shipment notice, freight billing rate and quote automation, customs clearance, business terms, because the hardest thing in integration in supply chain is the fact that we all use different words to describe the same thing. A pro number and a bill of lading, a load tender and a booking they're all the same stuff and getting people to agree on okay. Once the computer is automating something, it has to be repeatable and we all have to agree what we're actually doing here. You go to a global company and you say how do you quote the customer? They say, well, okay, in Malaysia, they send us this electronic message and we send it back. In Spain, they call the office and then they kind of make up a number and then we sort of sort it out from there. In the US, we go and we load up an index tool and then we add 5% to the index and then that goes back to them over an email. It's okay. Well, now we all have to agree on how to do that if we're going to automate it by bringing in integration software. It forces those conversations. Some of our customers have said to me that most of the value they get from our software is in the first month of the implementation, and then they are willing to use it to do all of this. But the value is that it got everyone on the same page.

Blythe Brumleve: 43:51

Which I imagine is such a nightmare for these companies to go through.

Brian Glick: 43:54

Our client success team does a lot of therapy as part of our services, also organizational therapy.

Blythe Brumleve: 44:04

So, in addition to organizational therapy, you mentioned earlier about how AI has really sort of sucked a lot of the oxygen out of the room when it comes to technology advancements, is there anything around logistics tech that we should be paying more attention to?

Brian Glick: 44:23

Carbon, co2 emissions, especially here in North America, we're woefully behind, and California is going to get us all caught up real quick with not just the I know everyone on the trucking side is well aware of the actual physical emission standards and the like but also carbon reporting. And so globally, within the next couple of years and dates are different in different spots basically everyone who's publicly traded is going to have to report on what's called scope three emissions, which is not the emissions your company does, but the emissions that everyone you buy goods and services does, which means, even if you're a small provider, you are going to be in someone else's scope three. So you go. Ok, it only applies to billion dollar companies in California. I'm not a billion dollar company, but I move loads for Target. Target's a billion dollar company who operates in California. Therefore, target is going to come back to me and ask about my carbon emissions and so applying the tech to take your ELDs and get that emissions, but also things like your corporate travel and the emissions on those, and so being educated on the tech that is being built. And it's very frustrating right now because it's all early days and all the regulations are different and everything's chaos and it's not pleasant right now in the emission space. But if you're not at least learning the words, if you don't know what scope three emissions means, you're behind. If you are already invested in technology, you are already able to give granular reporting to your customers you're ahead. If you're in between those two things, you're probably on the right track.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:12

And so I would say that probably sounds like a safe assumption to at least have on your radar to implement for 2024.

Brian Glick: 46:21

Yeah, I mean if you're not actively understanding it. And it's a little embarrassing that I have paper on my desk. But I have the Greenhouse Council white paper on emissions on my desk at all times now because it is a complicated topic. But the literature that's out there is actually not that hard. It's got graphs and pictures and shows you. Ok, if you're here in the supply chain, this means this to you If you are becoming fluent in the language. I'm trying to think of a good analogy here. But there are things like PODs. So there was a time when you were pretty cutting edge if you were even talking to your customers about electronic PODs. Now it's given right, but we all had to learn that language together. We're in that language learning phase right now and so if you're not learning the language of emissions, you are going to be playing a lot of catch up towards the end of next year.

Blythe Brumleve: 47:24

How, as a technology company, how are you and your team staying educated to help your customers stay educated?

Brian Glick: 47:34

So we see our job is to be out there and we have a partnership team who goes out and talks to every other software company in the industry that's willing to give us the time of day and we learn and we listen. And then we also talk to our largest customers, these big multinational forwarders, and then we have regular meetings and every one of our customers again like another sort of hidden value. They meet with their client success managers regularly and we try to feed back what we're hearing and we never recommend a particular piece of software because we're neutral. But we will say, hey, if you're not doing something in CO2, you're going to be behind. Here's the six providers in the space so you don't have to go do all that research and get started and then we'll make those introductions and we'll facilitate saying OK, well, the big guys in general are really looking at rate and quote automation right now. Here's some providers in that space that you can go talk to. So we help the executives at our customers, especially the mid-sized ones, distill the noise, what category should they be investing in? And then we introduce them to the software companies that can help them in that space. But we don't like provide a preference of this one's better than that one, so they can trust us.

Blythe Brumleve: 48:54

I'm curious, taking a little bit of a different direction for these last few questions. I'm curious as to what motive. Do you have any sort of mentors or people who have been super influential to you in your career and your outlook? Because it's always get the presence that you are very positive and very much eager to help other companies solve these complex problems. So I'm curious as to who is influential to you.

Brian Glick: 49:23

So I can give you three, only one of whom I directly worked for. So there's a woman named Katherine Cooper, who was my boss for a number of years, who has been very influential in my career in teaching me, as a nerd, how to interact with other people and how to understand that relationships are as important as facts, and so she was very influential. There's a company called 37 Signals, which is a software company. They have a couple of products called Basecamp and, hey, I don't use their products. I used to use their products many years ago but they were very influential in one of the first fully remote companies and building a culture of empowering people in a business to go make decisions and get things done. And they wrote some books about this and I went to one of their first in-person seminars like 20 years ago. So that team and then from afar and we know each other now but I always very much admired John Urban, who's now running Slink, but it was really the GT Nexus was what made him famous and his ability to see that you had all of these parties in global PO management and order management, arg and supply chain and that you had to make software that brought value to all of them or it wasn't going to work. And that ability to see that global network and then build software. That was going to be the rising tide. Instead of moving value between different companies, which really became what I needed to do with chain, which is we draw this triangle. I've had it since before I started the company Shippers, logistics providers and software companies and anything we do should be adding value to that triangle not moving value around that triangle.

Blythe Brumleve: 51:19

I love that. No, I mean, I feel like that would be a perfect place to end this interview, but I do have some questions.

Brian Glick: 51:27

However, there's a quiz round.

Blythe Brumleve: 51:29

But we do have one of the audience seems to really enjoy this segment. I call it the relatable eight, eight questions that I'm asking each interview guest over that. We've been doing this for a couple months now. I always get some fun sort of I would call them like break the ice type questions, but this is at the end of the interview, so it's not really breaking the ice anymore. All that to say, let's get to the first one, because you're very good at podcast interviews, very clearly, as an evident of this show. But how do you think about marketing when it comes to you?

Brian Glick: 52:01

and your company. Create value and don't overthink how you're delivering it. We do our podcasts, we do our LinkedIn presence and we don't get to. Our job is not to become Coca-Cola. So we try to add value. We try to make out good content that people like and then, because of that, they like our company.

Blythe Brumleve: 52:22

What is your favorite social media platform and why?

Brian Glick: 52:26

For business, it's still LinkedIn. The only other platform I'm on at all anymore is Reddit, and that's anonymous, because I think it's a really good place to see what people are really thinking.

Blythe Brumleve: 52:35

Yes, I would cosign that for sure Reddit is. I have a secret anonymous account and then I have my public facing. I have like five of them. You've got to be a little cautious on that crazy platform. Ok, what is your favorite SaaS tool that you use every day and can't live without? It cannot be your own.

Brian Glick: 52:55

Don't worry, I don't know that won't be a problem. My favorite SaaS tool that I use every day and can't live without is still Slack. I mean, it's just so effective.

Blythe Brumleve: 53:06

What about your favorite freight business that isn't your own?

Brian Glick: 53:12

I am not allowed to answer that question.

Blythe Brumleve: 53:15

I guess you did cut it.

Brian Glick: 53:17

What I will say is that I think that the entire space of pricing and rate calculations and all of those things is so unbelievably hard and fascinating to me that everybody operating in that space globally just has my admiration for tackling a hard problem.

Blythe Brumleve: 53:39

Yes, very well said. You did say that earlier, that you didn't want to be a neutral party. All right, next one what's one task in your current job that you can't stand doing?

Brian Glick: 53:51

Legal compliance, like government filings and all of the like. I have to sign this document for this state and all. It's just so much noise for no value for the customers.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:04

I echo that statement because I just went through a whole issue with the Florida Department of Revenue. They kept sending me notices about how I owed $20 to them. I just said I don't feel like calling the government to deal with this, I'm just going to pay the $20. I don't know where this bill came from. I spent months going through this issue. Then, of course, after I paid the bill a month later, I get a check in the mail from a rebate from the Florida.

Brian Glick: 54:25

Department of Revenue, try it on registering a legal entity in New Hampshire.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:29

I'm just going to put that out there Sounds like a nightmare that costs a lot more than $20. Yes, but it just goes to show the lack of progress or process optimization. I should say, all right, if you didn't have to worry about money, what would you want to do for the rest of your life?

Brian Glick: 54:49

Work on food security. It is ridiculous to me that in modern society there are people who don't have enough food to eat and then we can't get the food that they need to them it is. Whatever measure you make of our society, the fact that people go to bed hungry is absurd.

Blythe Brumleve: 55:08

That's why I love the feeding Northeast Florida. Feeding Northeast Florida is one that I really admire. What they're doing is because they take these donations from local stores and farmers and they help with the logistics of getting that food to folks in need. And they also go the extra step of to almost hide certain food donations, especially for kids in classrooms and things like that, where they will partner with schools and they'll take the food and they'll discreetly put it in the child's backpack and so that they can take it home and so they're not necessarily made fun of at school. Anyways, great chance.

Brian Glick: 55:47

And just a reminder for everyone the thing that the charity you care about values most is your money, not your in-kind services. So always donate money where you can, absolutely.

Blythe Brumleve: 55:57

They're better equipped to make those decisions than we are. Okay, last couple of ones. What's something you believe in that most people don't?

Brian Glick: 56:06

That there's no such thing as rules. There are only consequences. So everyone says this is the rules, this is how this has to be done. Well, long as you're willing to accept the consequences of your behavior, you can literally do anything.

Blythe Brumleve: 56:19

Spoken like a true tech executive. All right. And last one, a little bit of a fun one what's your favorite supply chain or logistics fact?

Brian Glick: 56:28

Oh man, my favorite supply chain or logistics. Fact is and the numbers vary depending on who you ask, but I'll just say that there are an excess of 100 companies involved in every international shipment. Oh, wow. Right that when you start counting the customs brokers and the origin trucking agent and the freight audit and pay company and the customs bureau and the company, the three PL that's managing the origin warehouse and the destination warehouse, and the transloader and the trucker, and you end up with over 100 companies and we all have to. We all still get things to get places every day, which is a miracle that it ever works.

Blythe Brumleve: 57:08

We do it millions of times a day which is why I love quotes like that, because you bring the tech positivity to the ecosystem which I think we need more of now. For I guess, for lack of a better phrase, are there any questions that you feel like I should have asked and didn't, or any statements that you would like to make that you feel is important as to sort of close out this conversation.

Brian Glick: 57:32

Well, I think you just hit on the one thing right. If there's one thing that I just want everyone in this business to hear, it's that we make minor miracles happen. That would be considered magic 200 years ago. I have a t-shirt in Shanghai and 48 hours later it's on a kid in Little Rock. Is magic, and we all crap on ourselves all day, every day. We all have very low self-esteem about the technology and all the things, and we should all remember that we're doing magic every day and appreciate that, even when it's hard.

Blythe Brumleve: 58:11

Wonderful way to close out the show. Brian, where can folks follow you? Follow more of your work.

Brian Glick: 58:17

LinkedIn used to be that other platform that they renamed each other and I lost track. So just check me out on LinkedIn.

Blythe Brumleve: 58:23

I will be sure to link to all the things in the show notes just to make it easy for folks and also to check out chainio, in case you are looking which you probably are looking at your different integration capabilities for the coming year. So, brian, as always, great conversation, great insight, great perspective. Thank you again for coming on the show. 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. Subscribe to the show, sign up for our newsletter and follow our socials over at everythingislogisticscom. And, in addition to the podcast, I also wanted to let y'all know about another company I operate and that's Digital Dispatch, where we help you build a better website. Now, a lot of the times, we hand this task of building a new website or refreshing a current one off to a co-worker's child, a neighbor down the street or a stranger around the world, where you probably spend more time explaining the freight industry than it takes to actually build the dang website. Well, that doesn't happen at Digital Dispatch. We've been building online since 2009, but we're also early adopters of AI, automation and other website tactics that help your company to be a central place to pull in all of your social media posts, recruit new employees and give potential customers a glimpse into how you operate your business. Our new website build started as low as $1,500, along with ongoing website management, maintenance and updates starting at $90 a month, plus some bonus freight, marketing and sales content similar to what you hear on the podcast. You can watch a quick explainer video over on DigitalDispatchio. Just check out the pricing page once you arrive and you can see how we can build your digital ecosystem on a strong foundation. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'll see you all real soon 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. test

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