The Evolution of Last Mile and Customer Expectations with Guru Rao of nuVizz
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In this episode of Everything is Logistics, host Blythe Brumleve interviews Guru Rao, CEO and founder of nuVizz, about the evolution of Last Mile logistics and the role of software in meeting customer expectations.

Rao has an extensive background in logistics, having spent nearly 30 years in the field, and discusses how technology has transformed the supply chain industry over the course of his career. The conversation sheds light on the challenges and opportunities inherent in the Last Mile, and how companies like nuVizz are working to solve them with innovative software solutions.



00:04:20 Technology solves Last Mile problems.
00:06:11 Technology enables logistics connections.
00:13:06 Technology solves shipping challenges.
00:27:46 Share data for efficiency.
00:29:06 Share data for success.
00:35:04 Digital twin technology revolutionizes logistics.
00:43:14 Reliable real-time data essential.
00:50:01 Plan for future transportation technologies.
00:53:05 Standardize last mile logistics.



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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. I'm your host, Blythe Brumleve. And I'm happy to welcome in Guru Rao. He is the CEO and founder of nuVizz. And we're going to be talking about the evolution of last mile, the expectations on the customer side of things, and how software is helping to fill those needs. So Guru, welcome to the show.

Guru Rao: 0:26

Thanks, Blythe. Appreciate. Thanks for having me.

Blythe Brumleve: 0:29

Absolutely. Now, you started new VW is more than a decade ago. And so I'm excited to talk about you know, the last mile and technology aspects side of things. But you before you started new biz, you actually had a very lengthy career in logistics. And so for folks who may not be aware of your career journey, can you give us a sense of your background and your very first job? And logistics? Oh,

Guru Rao: 0:51

absolutely. You know, I've spent almost 30 years now I'm dating myself, I tell people jokingly that I started my first job carrier job when I was 10. But, you know, yeah, it's it's been 30 years, we started in supply chain IDs in the mid 90s. Right? As when technology, I mean, it's still we are living in the same space, similar area, but technology was still in nascent stage in supply chain, we have built in a started in the technology space within the supply chain, broader supply chain, coming out of college as a trained software engineer, and I didn't, you know, program for too long, I was too lazy for that. And, but, you know, got fascinated with the supply chain space. But you know, being involved in product building, business building, helping customers in every aspect of supply chain in many different verticals across the globe, right? You know, seeing firsthand the challenges and, you know, fastly fascinating things that happen within the supply chain, and kept us in this space. And with, you know, with that background and understanding firsthand understanding of the space, in about 10 years ago, when we were looking at, you know, how can we leverage, you know, the experience that we have, and the technology background to solve some real problems in the industry. And we saw a great opportunity, where, you know, especially in the supply chain, the technology was limited to within the four walls. And we saw the transportation and technologists moving into more of a network based ecosystem, right, that was kind of the problem and the opportunity for us to bring newer technologies into the space. And that is how we started in 2011. And we've been at it since then.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:55

So you mentioned that you started your first job as a carrier at age of 10. Can you tell us a little bit about Oh, no. Okay. I was like, Oh, wow, if you I mean, I guess you can always sort of tie anything back to logistics, especially if you're young.

Guru Rao: 3:11

Yeah. My first job as an out of the college was in the logistics, technology space, it was building inventory management for a slaughterhouse. That was a fascinating, that's how you got involved, inventory management of all things, you know, slaughterhouse. Right. But that was where I started my career.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:34

Yeah, that's an entire other set of logistics issues that you're probably dealing with versus in the software space, different messes to clean up, I think.

Guru Rao: 3:42

Yeah, absolutely.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:45

So when you are, what did the landscape for last mile software look like? When you first started new vez? Was it kind of non existent? Or were you guys you know, really like pioneers in that regard?

Guru Rao: 3:57

Oh, that is a great question. Today. Everybody talks about last mile technology in our delivery, management and experience and all that 10 years ago, when we started the whole technology space call call last mile technology did not exist. Right? So that's a good way to think about why we started this right. Going back to my earlier talk about supply chain was very one dimensional, very point to point, limited partners, right? That's how in a supply chain work, logistics transportation was limited. Partners, point to point integration and all that. And then around you know, after the cell phone smartphone era, right, the whole world started to become a more of a network. Right and slowly, shippers started to divest away from the private fleet started to work with more and more partners that started happening. And at the same time, ecommerce came in right as ecommerce, explore loaded, everybody started delivering everywhere. So when that happened, no shipper was big enough to be able to have their own fleet to go and deliver to all their customers. So invariably, they had to rely on multiple carrier partners. Right? So when that happened, the existing technology, integration, everything broke down. Right? When you are working with one or two partners, it was okay to move data back and forth. But when you're working with hundreds of partners, that in itself will become a huge endeavor, if I have to do that 100 times over. Right. And one, I cannot do it to you know, it's prone to errors. And three, more importantly, it cannot be real time. Right. So that is what I you know, we we saw that when we call about when we talk about network ecosystem, right? That was one part of the problem. The, the solution to that was twofold. One, there were technologies that can intelligently manage this data without having to take it from point A to point B, and to mobile technology that came in around 2000 567. Right, enabled enterprises to be connected when working with completely disconnected entities. Right? So for example, if you look at it in the last mile, it's one of the core aspects of any shipper today. Right? That's a very important part for them. Because that is where you touch your end customer. That's where customer experience comes into play. But ironically, 99% of the shippers are not touching their end customers, because they're working with some third party partners. So that is the big disconnect. Right? And, of course, we can talk about the customer expectations, and you know, same day delivery to our delivery and all that how it changed the whole logistics and delivery business. But that added a completely different aspect on the shipper side. Generally, historically, shippers always looked at last mile delivery as somebody will do it for us. Right, and then they'll tell us how it happened after the fact. And they were okay with that. But now, every company is now in the middle of I like to say every company under the sun now suddenly has become a delivery company. Right? They're delivering services goods, or what have you, and the customer, they're right in the middle of a customer experience. And the only way to be able to connect it to your end customer without having to invest in assets and running your own logistics business is technology. Right? So that's what we saw 10 years ago, and we did not think about this as a last mile problem. Right? We thought about it as a logistics problem. Right? Whatever, it doesn't matter, middle mile, you know, again, that's another misnomer, right? When people talk about last mile, they always think about the final, you know, ringing the bell kind of delivery scenario. But for that to happen, there are three other four other things that need to happen in a connected way to make that last last mile happen. Right. So we thought about this network holistically, and to create a technology that can enable that without having to create a whole integration nightmare. Right? That's kind of the thing we started in 2011, building that platform, right, basically, the problem statement, you know, we started with was, you know, I'm moving something from point A to point B, and there are multiple stakeholders involved in that move. And how can I orchestrate that move? And keep everybody every stakeholder involved in that with real time providing them context sensitive visibility, with real time data? Right, that was kind of the very abstract problem statement, there is no last mile in, in that anywhere. Right? So, and that was kind of where we started. And of course, in the last five years, the whole space has completely transformed with so much talk about last mile and you know, different areas of technologies catering to the challenges that we today. And, you know, absolutely, it's been a great journey for us. And we really got a, you know, leg up in terms of how we thought about the problem. And the way we thought about the problem made us really, you know, very stable, very secure, very scalable today as a plot platform and as technology.

Blythe Brumleve: 9:37

And so it sounds like you know, the same problems that existed, you know, 10 years ago, 11 years ago, when you started the company still exists today, you know, the carrier partnerships, the everything is kind of in its own Data Silo. And you know, even with technology coming into the mix over the last handful of years, it still sounds like you're still trying to solve those core problems. Is that a safest Imagine,

Guru Rao: 10:00

absolutely you're absolutely right. You know, at the end of the day, if you look at it, like I said, Something is going from point A to point B, and multiple folks are touching that, that is still happening. That was happening, right? 10 years ago, 20 years ago, same thing is happening today. But the magnitude of what is happening today is 10 times bigger in magnitude than it what was happening 10 years ago, right, in terms of number of partners involved in terms of number of touches it you know, goes through, and all of that, and that is one aspect of it. The other aspect of it is the lead time expectations have come down drastically. Right? Nobody is now talking about days, everybody's talking about minutes and hours if you're lucky. Right. So those are kind of the levers that kind of changed the whole landscape of technology. Right? And then traditionally, you know, the whole space has been completely fragmented from a transportation which still is, which is going to be right, there is no one party that can come in and say I'm going to bring in, in our national level coverage with my own assets, that is never going to happen, right? So when the fragmentation is just becoming big, worse and worse, and so what shippers want to get in the middle of that experience, so how do you how do they do that? That's where the technology is really, you know, making a big difference in how people can handle this new expectations in the new ecosystem.

Blythe Brumleve: 11:29

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 is book a 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 To learn more. I'm so glad you mentioned expectations because that leads into my next question of, you know, I know that you know for a very large customer, or I guess market for for new visitors, the pharmaceutical industry. And so when you think about the last mile, who is who I guess is the most demanding or what segment is the most demanding when it comes to those expectations, I imagine Pharmaceuticals is right up there just because of the need of the end user of the customer that's getting that in shipment. But what about are there any other maybe you know, CPG companies or anything else that were last mile is more important than say the majority of the other companies that are concerned with last mile?

Guru Rao: 12:45

Oh, you know, it's a great point, again, the beauty of the technology that we built and we talked about, we never constrained ourselves with any industry or vertical specific town. We never said in our problem that I'm moving a cart and I'm moving a pallet I'm moving XYZ I said something is going from point A to point B right. So when you start with that, just by the definition of itself, I can take the solution to pharma, I can take it to CPG I can take it to auto parts, I can take it to food distribution, because each one of them is very similar at the same time they have their own nuances. Right? Think of it like this 8020 rule in any any conversation 80% of what they do, they bring it in, say you know, store it, get the order, load it go and deliver that happens with any, you know, logistics business, right. But that it doesn't stop there. The 20% What you apply on top of it, which are the nuances that are specific to each of the industry verticals, is where you really get stuck, right? Because that's where the challenge is. And so to answer your point, every vertical has its challenges. And the platform also is built with the idea that 80% is standard. And then give me the flexibility to do the 20% Depending on how I want to do my business. Like let's talk about two different aspects. One is from the shipper standpoint, if you are a shipper, you are obviously in 90% of the time you're only we're focused on one vertical, right? You're either a former CPG or what have you. That's what you specialize in. So you have the challenges there. But if you talk about the carrier, that's a completely different story. No 99% of the carriers are working today with many different types of shippers across different verticals. Right there. They're filling their truck with former products, they're filling with the auto parts, they're filling with food parts, food, you know, inventory everything on a single truck, and they're operating in a commingled environment. So think if you know a farmer customer has to deal with the farmer nuances. A true commingled carrier has to deal with all The nuances for all types of different shippers that they work with. Right? That is an even more challenging environment that they live in. Right. So that is where the technology comes into play. For us, we have seen Pharma is definitely a big, again, when we talk about healthcare, we talked about pharma as part of the broader healthcare, there's multiple things going on, like there is distribution, former distributors that bring in product from the manufacturers or bring it to the Walgreens and CVS and all that, for them. That is there in mind. Right, so then, you know, that's their customers that is there in mind. So there is a whole set of nuances in terms of chain of custody, and tracking every every product, right, and there is data security, you know, HIPAA, you know, all of that comes into play. And then the other aspect of that is home prescription delivery, which is, you know, growing in a big way. How do you manage that, which is another layer of it. Within the healthcare, there is another logistics business that, you know, manages all the lab logistics, you know, bringing product from the labs, to the hospitals, and vice versa, and all that. So, all of these are part of the healthcare, you know, transportation logistics holistically, when you look at it, and you are technology, can you take technology cater to all that, right? That's kind of how we looked at solving the problem, but not from a pure, you know, niche kind of a, you know, a thinking saying, Okay, I'm going to provide delivery tracking solution for moving furnitures, for example, that would have been a much easier problem to star solve, right? Because it's very contained. And I have boundaries around what I need to really enable the platform to do.

Blythe Brumleve: 16:47

And so with all of the intricacies within shipping, just a single product, no matter where it lands, and with all the technology coming to how do you manage the the unexpected in shipping with technology? Is it just a constant feedback loop that you're in with your customers and your carriers? How do you manage that from a coding perspective?

Guru Rao: 17:10

Again, that's a great question. That's a, if you look at technology, it's solid, going back to technology evolution. So when we started 2024 years ago, it was all about creating efficiencies, right? How can I make things better, right? Look at automating processes. So that way, I am not doing the same thing over and over and over again, 1000 times, I can automate it and get efficiency. So I can take out that labor, take out the resources from there and put them into more value added services. That was the mentality, right. And as things progress, as we are dealing with more and more. The exception management by exception became the mantra, right, most of the standard things should flow seamlessly. And we need to put resources only to look at exceptions. Right. So give me all the rights on the data on the map. So I can go dig deeper and see what's going on. And that's where I'm spending most of my time kind of mentality. Right? So now we are at the next evolution of the technology, where technology is part smart enough to hand look at those exceptions, and automatically route that back into your thing, you know, what I call self learning and self healing technologies? Right? That's where we are in the evolution of technology. So I don't really need to be sitting and watching my monitor to see where is the red dot and go and see what I need to do now, systems are capable to understand that and reroute it through the proper channels. So exception handle all handling also comes down. Right? That is the evolution we are in today in terms of technology. I mean, when I talk about technology and different you know, of course, every customer is at a different in I'd say it's a spectrum, right? There are different places, but generally speaking, that is where the technology is headed. Right? That is where we are today. And we see that with our customers every day some customers are in are starting phase one, and some customers are starting to scratch the next evolution of technology. So there are different places, and we meet them where they are. I mean, that is the that is the nature of you know, technology or doing any business.

Blythe Brumleve: 19:22

Why I think you hit the nail on the head on meeting them where they are because the last few years. I mean, I don't have to tell anybody that has just been a crazy pendulum swing just back and forth of expectations and and demand and what's going on within the market. So I'm curious of, of what your customers expectations now are of your technology in the quote unquote, post COVID world or is it? Are they relying more and more on technology or are they wanting to focus more on consolidating a lot of their tools that they're using?

Guru Rao: 19:55

I mean, absolutely, I think in the last five years that the logistics supply chain has In the space to be in, and like more has happened in the five years than what I ever saw in the 20 years before that, right? So again, from the customer standpoint, as well, of course, supply chain logistics has always been looked on as a cost center. Right? So you got to have it to, you know, do the business. So, as lean you can be, that's how you measure your success. So that's how it was. And so technology was always an afterthought. Only if it's going to save me cost in real cost, I'm going to look at it, but it's takes me $10 To invent, you know, implement it, I'm not going to look at it because that $10 is more than what I'm spending today kind of mentality. Right? So that has completely changed. Again, because you're starting to deal with more and more variables, right? It's humanly impossible to deal all all of that manually, and still be able to provide the expectations that you know, your customers are placing on you. So the technology has become a must have. That's where everybody starts today. Right? Nobody starts, you know, thinking about the logistics business without thinking about technology today, which was not the case 510 years ago, right. The first thing I need is my trucks and drivers and you know, contracts and whatnot. And if required, let's think about technology, right? Worst case, I'm going to put a GPS on my truck, and I know where my drivers are, that is my level one phase one of technology evolution. If that doesn't work. And if my shippers demand something more than I'll do more, right, it was always divert, driven by that, that nothing not proactively. So today, I never have to have this conversation and tell somebody, Hey, this is what we do. And they will never say no, I'm not interested. Right. That never happens. They're always curious about, hey, what are you doing? How can I get better? You know, what are the new things? Right? That is, that's why I say it's a great place to be in, you know, we're not selling widgets anymore. We are selling active conversations, people are really interested in investing time and money. Right. So that's, that's the biggest change I have seen in terms of how technology is being viewed. And people understand that they cannot run their businesses without the technology.

Blythe Brumleve: 22:20

And speaking of this awareness level, there's also that general awareness are not really awareness, but investment coming from some of these bigger brokerages that are starting to just buy up last mile fleets and operations through mergers, acquisitions. And so what does that I guess sort of hint at for the landscape of last mile? Do you see more last mile fleets being created? Or do you see more brokerages just buying up those last mile fleets and that being their strategy?

Guru Rao: 22:52

I think there's it's going to exist coexist both of them, but I see more of this consolidation happening, because like I said, people mistakenly thought of last mile as a very disconnected operation. So I don't have to worry about everything else, all I need to do is take my product from one place to deliver and I'm done kind of a thing. And all of a sudden, you're starting to realize to make that last mile happen. You got to connect so many other dots within your ecosystem, right? How can you make last mile better if you can make all the other leg other line other legs better? How can you make other legs better if you have control over all of those legs as a carrier by yourself, that's why we are seeing this in our run into buyer buying up the last mile companies, all the brokers and freight forwarders and all that that's a natural extension for them. Right? That's where a lot of businesses, that's where a lot of investment is going. And you also have control over the other legs. Right. So you can operate much better, holistically, both from a cost perspective as well as providing value perspective. Right. So that is going to continue to happen. And I've we have talked to so many of those folks, brokers and forwarders that have, you know, acquired last mile businesses and trying to integrate with that in their broader thing, suddenly, they've come a come to a standstill, realizing that their existing technologies cannot sustain because they are all working as three separate, even though they have all the three parts they can do. But there are three still different companies, you know, again, I kind of can you know, talk about this in the context of what happened in the retail business from going from a single channel store in a multi channel cross channel and omni channel. Right How that evolution happened. I'm seeing exactly the same thing happened in transportation. Right? People thought okay, I can do the line haul then I'm not worried about the LTL then you know, last mile, everybody start thought about them as completely different things. Now, these big businesses, transportation companies have all of them They are all operating as independent entities, they got to create them cross channels between them so that each or each of them will talk to each other, it's not going to stop there, they got to work as an omni transportation, if there is a word like that, right. So that is the only way they can make this whole holistic experience work better for both of their paying customers, as well as the, you know, customers getting the products.

Blythe Brumleve: 25:29

And with so many companies, though, they they realize, I think, or maybe they're slow to realize the value of their own data. And so they it's almost like we're at a place where they know the value of their data, but they still want to hold on so strong to it. So how do you as a company, you know, convince customers and carriers and, and those folks to integrate their data with your platform? How do you sort of, I guess, ease their concerns?

Guru Rao: 25:58

Yeah, no, this is a great example. We deal with that, I think, you know, we are talking about seeing that less and less nowadays. And when we started, you know, even five years ago, when we started, especially the regulated industries, like pharma, for example, they are very hesitant to have their data with anybody, right, as was in a wrong in a bad word for them. They thought by putting something in SAS, they're losing control, without realizing everybody is in some shape or form of SAS. Right. So. So that was a big challenge for us to tell people how it is safe, and they can still operate it in a more efficient, right, that is the whole idea of this whole network economy, that we talk about network ecosystem, that is the only way we can make the world better, right? If we still continue to operate within the four walls mentality, then all of the what we are taught, that's why our platform, when we talked about we consciously said, this is going to be the only way of providing the solution is going to be through a multi tenant SAS. That means this is not going to be installed at any customers on premise that is dead. The moment I say on premise, I cannot build a network. Right? It cannot be you know, 10 different things sitting in 10 different places and trying to talk to each other via sharing data, we are back to where we were 10 years ago. And just using, you know, better computers and better whatever it doesn't make make us all better. So we have to think about a holistic approach of how the data, so data sharing is an important thing. And again, it doesn't have to, you know, you don't have to share any of your secrets. It's all about, you know, shipment data going back and forth. Instead of you calculating your you know, lead time and telling that to the next party and next party doing the same thing. And all of that going back and forth. That is the you know, the platform, what we have is it understands that stakeholders, same piece of information with all the stakeholders have visibility to that data, because it understands these are the only guys that have access to that. Right? Not everybody, right? Only those five stakeholders for that piece of information. And they also have what we call context sensitive visibility. Visibility is not for everybody, right? You as an end customer, you only care about when am I going to get my delivery? Am I gonna get it at 230, which was promised or not? I don't care what else happened? That is my context. As a carrier. My context is how Where is my driver? Easy on time? Right? How I filled his truck fully, how I optimize his you know, all that that is my context? For shipper. My context is okay, what is my own time percentage is all my carriers doing on time, right? Are my customer satisfaction, good or not? So there's different contexts, but they're all relying on different pieces of information to get that context. Right. So if everybody just contributes their part of the data into the broader ecosystem, and the platform can create that context for different stakeholders, without having to take that from point A to B to C, that is the great, that is where the value is. Right? This needs to happen not only within the verticals right now. You know, we can talk more about, you know, the efficiency, sustainability and all of that. It all starts from that. Right? So that I'm not doing redoing the same things that already someone has done it. Right. And so that's kind of the whole change, change. And then you know, when we when we talk to people, they understand it and that they are embracing it now, and everybody used to resist it before it As always, like, you know, people used to look at this as a zero sum game. Right? Yeah, you know, if I, if you do it, if you're telling me to do it, that means I'm losing something, versus, you know, somebody else is losing something that is not the case. So we are all, you know, working to deliver something to the end customer. That means there is no harm in sharing that information across up, you know, upstream and downstream partners. Right. So that's what the, the technologies didn't exist 510 years ago, then that was a genuine concern. Right. But today, we have the technologies, they are more secure, they're more smart. They're smarter than people can, you know, manage their data on Excel spreadsheet? Definitely. Right. So we should be in it, you know, and companies are coming around. And large companies are mean, surprisingly, the larger companies are a lot more open to this idea. Right, than the medium on smaller ones. Right? That was a completely, you know, against the common thought you'd think, okay, big companies would be hesitant, and the smaller companies would be okay. Like, that's kind of the one learning we had to go through. But I think it's, it's no more, you know, let's put it that way. It's not a huge, you know, difficult task to convince anybody, even if they have those questions.

Blythe Brumleve: 31:20

And I'm a little curious as to what the concerns would be from a small business perspective is it may be the, the the lack of a guess of a large, maybe coworker base or employee base. And if you make the wrong tech investment, it could cost you your business, is are those the main concerns from the small business side versus the enterprise side?

Guru Rao: 31:40

Absolutely. So if you go back look on it, right, from a shipper standpoint, the whole last carrier mile business was a black hole, right? They used to send send them something or a spreadsheet or whatever. And then at the end of the day carrier, you know, they will do whatever they're supposed to do, at the end of the day, they go back and tell them, This is my performance. That's how carrier performance was measured. So when that is how it is measured, I'm always 100%. You know, if I'm not 100%, you tell me and then we'll figure it out. Right? That's kind of how it used to work. Now, we are opening up this with the visibility, we are also opening up, you know, accountability. Right. So if everybody is looking at all the same piece of data, I don't need to tell the shipper that I'm doing a great job, they will automatically know. And the and the reverse is also true. If I'm not doing a great job, then they will also they will know about that as well. Right. So that is where hesitancy is knows. They think some extent they're losing control. Right? Where you know, in the previous world, I would do whatever I want to do and then tell my shippers, hey, this is what happened versus they're looking at my what I'm doing all the time, and micromanaging or what have you, and they feel that they're losing control. And they will also know what else I am doing as a carrier. Right? And that might give them some leverage in negotiations or contract negotiations or what have you. Those are all unfounded, by the way, right? Because the technology is smart enough to give them only they need to know and they will not know nothing about the rest of the things you do. Right. But you don't have to manually do that work. And you don't have to try to manipulate things and move things around and whatnot. Right. So that's the hesitancy to some extent, right. So but again, it's not a, it's not hard to get around and make sure they understand what's going on. And then they're they come on board. And again, to my earlier point, they're also living in our environment where they're doing business with 10s of shippers, if not hundreds at the same time, then they cannot do that manually anymore, either. Right? So so that it's a win win for the whole ecosystem. But it needs change in you know, like this age old habits, you know, die last right? They, you know, they got to but then, you know, we were all open to change. And that change is inevitable.

Blythe Brumleve: 34:15

And I think too, with managing a lot of expectations, you get used to managing the same expectations. And then when new expectations are thrown in and maybe a microscope is kind of put on on your job and your performance and you have to justify it, then you have to manage those expectations accordingly and what contributed or or led to that failure in that service. And so maybe that's a challenge, I think for some of these smaller companies to to evolve those expectations as they continue to stay in business. But I wanted to switch gears a little bit because I I mentioned earlier before we started recording that I had listened to a couple of your interviews on loaded and rolling with Thomas Watson. Then there's also a check call with Mary O'Connell and I heard you mentioned a few times about digital twin techniques. Knology and I kind of know about this from, you know, sort of a high level overview. But I would love to hear you break down of what a digital twin is. and logistics.

Guru Rao: 35:10

Yeah, no. Again, that's a great question. Again, it's the whole idea of the network when we talk about the network, you know, most logistics and supply chain, you know, ecosystems are pretty complex, right? If you look at, take an example of large pharma distributor we're working with, right, they have about 35 distribution centers, all across the country. And then they work with about 250, carrier cross dock locations, hubs, right, the products get shipped from the DC to the hub, and then the hubs May, the central hub, the hub, central hub may ship product to another hub, intermediate local hub, and then from there, it gets delivered to the customer. Right, just look at the farmer distribution. One example. That's what is what are what we are talking about the physical ecosystem, that enables the movement of product from point A to point B to reach the end customer in this instance. So, in the pre previously, what used to happen is every entity, every DC, every carrier terminal, every hub, every customer was a disconnected entity, right? From the DC the data used to get created, it will get logged over to the carrier carrier will catch it, they will do whatever they do it, they'll send it to the next entity, downstream. And that entity will do whatever, they will then go and do the work. And then after the work happens, the same data travels back all the way leg after leg after leg. So that was kind of the world we lived in. So if you think about digital twin, creating equal and similar entity within on the technology platform, similar to how the physical entities exist. So what I mean by that is you have these, you know, stakeholder entities, distribution center, central hub, local hub, customer, they all exist as entities within the technology. And also technology is smart enough to, you know, connect the dots to say, this DC can ship to this location, this location is shipping to this location. And when the data traverses through that everybody gets to see that in real time, I'm creating a digital equivalent of what is physically happening. I'm not keeping them separate the whole hierarchy, the relationships, all of that is pre existing in the Twin world technology world, so that the moving of data goes away completely. Right. So that is a, you know, completely different way of thinking about technology. Because, you know, you know, 510 years ago, and even now, for the most part, all of the technology that we talk about and think about is limited to four walls, right my operations, and then after my operations is done, I'm going to send an EDI, and I'm going to do something to the next party. Right? That is not a connected world. So the digital twin create, how physically things happen, how it should be, you know, if something happens in the field, you know, with my carrier right now, I should know exactly sitting somewhere in or somewhere else as a shipper. I don't need to wait for the carrier to happen, that can only happen if they're all connected in this digital twin with the understanding of the data, and the ownership of the data, right, who can see what they can see and all that relation establishing those relationships, right? That's what you know, we are trying to create a similar physical world in technology. So I can go and drop all those places and establish those connections. And, you know, by doing that the platform understands how the data needs to flow, who needs to get to see the data, and what part of the data, you know, should be visible to which stakeholder and all that. So that takes out a lot of this mundane stuff that the logistics companies have been involved over the years, right, investing in moving data, scrubbing data, rationalizing data, all of that goes away. Right. And that adds a lot of value and efficiency that we have never thought about, and then positions us to get to the next level of what I was talking about self learning and self healing systems.

Blythe Brumleve: 39:46

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Guru Rao: 41:51

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. You know, wish we could we were in the metaverse where I can think about getting delivered to my house and it happened automatically. I mean, unfortunately, you still have to be involved the

Blythe Brumleve: 42:04

point of view inside the box, like you just wear the headset and find out where exactly your shipment is.

Guru Rao: 42:10

I mean, you know that the data exists, we can provide you that, but still physical movement still needs to happen. Right? 100%? Well, that's Yeah,

Blythe Brumleve: 42:20

well, let's get into a little bit of of, you know, some of the the next level of the self healing of data in automation and AI, you know, where are some of the, I guess, the most exciting things in automation and AI that you're seeing within logistics take hold?

Guru Rao: 42:35

Yeah, again, you know, that's one of the areas that we you know, everyday we think about how we can the you know, the chicken and egg conversation, right. So to, you know, leverage machine learning, you got to have good data, right, that works on existing data. So the beauty of the platforms that we are talking about building is, they're also, you know, involved in the creation of the execution data, right there not relying on some third party created execution data, it is actually creating the data on the platform. So it is very reliable, right? That is first piece, one is reliable to Israelite, well, two is real time, it needs to be bought, if he doesn't check off either one of those, then your date is waste, right? If I get great, you know, reliable data two days later, it's useless, right? And other way, other way around as well. So getting the date as we are involved in generating the data, and then bringing the data back into the system and let the machine learning algorithms understand the patterns. Right. And so they can, when they see the exceptions, they can act on those exceptions automatically inject them back into the plan. And so you don't need anybody else in the middle to do that mundane work right that mundane we are extending the boundaries of what we call mundane slowly. Right? You know, maybe it was somebody sitting and copying the Excel spreadsheet over and over and over again was mundane, right next a dispatcher looking at the screen and trying to figure out who is the best driver maybe what that was mundane. And now we are extending that right? If I know the system knows I have 10 drivers in the field and what is on their truck where exactly they are right now, are they running late? Or are they on time all of that information is available with this system. And if an exception happens I need to find a driver to do this particular job within the next 30 minutes. Right system should be able to make that intelligent decision without anybody pressing a button. So that is kind of one example of simple way of looking at it right today. We you spent hours and hours of dispatchers time talking to the drivers talking to the carrier hey why Where are you? Can you do this? What have you. So all of that can happen in a matter of milliseconds, with the system with all of that knowledge, but to be able to do that the two primary criteria, like I said, real time data and reliable data, right, those are key otherwise, if you know, the data is bad, whatever machine learning comes back and says, obviously, the output is going to be bad, the driver may not be at the location where, you know, the system thought he was supposed to be. Right. So that's where that's why it's an evolution, I cannot start using machine learning without even having reliable data. So I need to focus on you know, getting to that place, which is where most of the companies today, right, there may, again, in over the spectrum, there are different places. And that's where you need to start, find a place where you can collect all the data and ensure that it is reliable, it is rationalized. Right? It's one, right, you're not getting data in 10 different ways. And you got to, you know, put them in different formats, or what have you work on that. And that is the phase one. And once you have that you have a lot of value you can create through these, you know, machine learning and other abilities, right. So that's kind of where that's why you know, you chicken or egg I was talking about, right? So that's kind of the evolution. And we as a technology provider, we are at the phase three of that evolution. And some of our customers may be phase one, phase two, and they're catching on to phase three, but we will be always ahead of them in terms of, you know, where when they're ready to embrace those technologies.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:42

So say, I'm a company and all of this, you know, sounds great. And I want to start, you know, sort of implementing into a phase one or phase two. So But to start with that phase one, making sure your data is clean? Is that something that you can realistically do inside of your own company, you know, maybe with an executive team, you know, a CTO? Or is that something that you really need to rely on a partner in order to help you figure out if your data is good or not?

Guru Rao: 47:09

Again, you know, it's, it's a collective effort, right? I mean, most of the things that we're talking about, you can do as an organization within, but to understand, understand the technologies that can help you do that, right, and the best practices, how to do that, you probably would need partners to engage in that, right. But one of the good things about this technology that we are talking about versus the technologies that we were implementing 1520 years ago, like WMS, and TMS and all that, which used to take months, if not years, we've all been there people talking about 18, month 24 month implementations and all that terrible. Oh, were there, we are nowhere, we are way far ahead in terms of implementations with these technologies. Right, we are talking about weeks. Now, if not months, if you know, if you if you stretch that, so when if that is the case, it gives you a lot of, you know, solace in trying to think about this, and it's not, you know, you're not spending 16 months, if your lifetime to figure out whether it's going to work or not. Right, that is not at all the case, right? So, because these technologies are standard, out of, you know, technologies out there, like smartphone technologies, and you don't need to have, you know, special hardware, and, you know, whatever, these are all SAS technologies, right, you're not installing and maintaining any of that. So there's all of that is taken care for you. So it's gonna be, you're going to get to realisation of the value pretty faster than what we were used to, you know, 345 10 years ago. Right. So that's why, you know, that's one of the other reasons people think a lot, you know, confident about embracing these technologies. Right. And, and plus, of course, the SAS also gives them the, how they how they pay for it as well, right? They're not paying a million dollar license on day one, without hoping that it would work one day, right. And you're paying for us. And you're getting there to us much faster in like I said in matter of weeks. So there are lots of things going for these technologies for our customers.

Blythe Brumleve: 49:19

And so for a lot of your your customers, I imagine that they get on boarded very quickly, and then they can start you know, really sort of business planning for the year out once they can get an accurate look at what their data is, is telling them. But then how do you I guess, sort of adjust the conversation for these newer technologies. I say newer, you know, autonomous vehicles, drones, things like that, that are coming into the last mile delivery market. How can they use, you know, those, that data that they have now, and use it also or analyze maybe they'll use it in the future with some of these newer technologies coming into the mix?

Guru Rao: 49:56

Yeah. So yeah, that's a great point. These are All technologies that will be coming in in the near future, whatever the near future, quote unquote, right just happens to be, but they're all in different phases of their, you know, most of them are in pilot stages or what have you commercially viable products are going to be available in a few years. But from a technology standpoint, the way again, of the platforms have to be designed that any mode of transportation, right, the technology that works for your trucks, that technology that works for people today should also be able to work with your autonomous vehicles. Right. In terms of communicating with that, you know, you still need to plan your routes, you still need to dispatch your routes, except that you're dispatching it to a, quote unquote, a smartphone, which is what is happening today. But a driver is looking at that smartphone and taking making decisions. But you think about ABS, it's the same thing, you just take out the driver. Of course, I'm not, I'm not saying the intricacies of the ad itself is a completely different thing. But from it, delivery technology standpoint, we are talking about the same thing, right. So that's how the technologies should be designed, and thought about. So you're not going and again, when you want to venture into that, you don't have to think about ripping apart what you have, and starting to think about a brand new technology. Right. So that is kind of how we think about it. Right? We think about those technologies, don't think of them as something that we have to start rebuilding for it. Right? It's kind of there. When they are become available, we can plug them plug into them, or drones we have done, you know, some kind of pilot with all of these technologies like abs, drone deliveries, and all that we can show we can prove that the same existing technologies that work with your vehicles, and trucks can work with those as well, whenever those technologies are ready to be deployed in the field.

Blythe Brumleve: 51:56

And it sounds like the more of a need for the autonomous vehicles and for the drones to have a need for that strong data set, versus the I guess a role reversal in that regard, where you know, drones and AVS will probably complement the industry in the coming years, I think it's still a little ways off for that becomes commonplace. And but it sounds like they would need this data set a lot sooner than the flip side would need them if that's a safe assumption. And so as we kind of, you know, round out this discussion and come to the last, you know, sort of couple questions, I always like to ask the magic wand question, if I could give you a magic wand and you could fix last mile, what would be the biggest problems that you would fix?

Guru Rao: 52:42

You know, I'll keep my magic one more, you know, less expectations, right? I don't ask for the world. But I think one of the things that in this in the whole supply chain logistics, as a whole, we have been very late to come up with standards. Right, as an industry, it always was forced upon us. And even today, we are sitting here and talking about EDI as the greatest invention. I mean, it was great, don't don't get me wrong, but we should have been talking about, you know, 10, you know, different things. Since since that happened, right? Unfortunately, we don't have those 10 different things to talk about. So that's one thing before it gets too out of hand, we have as an industry, we got to come together to create standardization, within especially the last mile, which is a wild wild west today. Right, which is very fragmented, and everybody does their things in own ways. And there's no way to figure out, you know, any, from any standpoint, from pricing from execution from, you know, what I was lead times and any of those. So that is one thing that we'll have to as an industry, if we do that, then all the technologies and everything else that we come up with can complement those and can operate in a much better place. Instead, you know, doing, we have technologies, but you still don't have standards, then it again becomes a question of, you know, putting in extra additional work to sub you know, make up for that lack of standards, right. So that is where I think we would, because we know now the delivery expectations are not going to go away. Right? Just because we're out of the pandemic, which we are hopefully, right, it's not going to go away, it's only going to get, you know, get more and more acute. And now I think it's time for us to think as a as an industry and come up with standards, though, then everybody can operate on those standards without having to create their own silos. So that would be my you know, hope. Right? And, you know, and as technology vendors we get involved in in some of those initiatives, but also it needs a broader industry participation and contribution into that.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:54

Absolutely, very well said and for folks who want to follow along with the new visit journey may You become a customer or follow along with with you and your work and your, you know, talks and interviews, where can folks follow your work and nuVizz

Guru Rao: 55:08

sure you miss it, and You can always find us there for latest and greatest and If you want to get in touch with us, you know, please, you're more than happy to connect with you on top. I'm on LinkedIn all the time, and more engaged allowed to have conversations with the folks so you can find me there on time.

Blythe Brumleve: 55:30

100% and I will make sure that I linked to both of those in the show notes just to make it easy for folks but Guru this was a fascinating conversation. And and I thank you for your time. Thank you.

Guru Rao: 55:41

Appreciate thanks for the call

Blythe Brumleve: 55:49

I hope you enjoyed this episode of everything is logistics, a podcast for the thinkers and 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 in past episodes. Over at everything is 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. test

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