The Power of Choice for Enterprise Fleets with Platform Science
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Platform Science has been around for years and rarely makes a podcast appearance but we were lucky to have a conversation with Luke Wachtel at Manifest: The Future of Logistics.

Luke,  SVP of Transportation and Logistics at Platform Science, joins the podcast to discuss the world of connected fleets and the technology that powers them.  Platform Science seeks to provide an app store-like experience for fleets, wherein fleets can have choice and access to the most recent technology advances with ease and convenience.



00:00:22 Connected fleets and technology.
00:08:41 Make technology easy to use.
00:09:45 Connected vehicles enable choice.
00:17:30 Eat your own dog food.
00:19:13 Connect disparate apps seamlessly.
00:26:37 Trucking technology is customizable.
00:29:19 Build your digital ecosystem.
00:32:45 Partner with OEMs to innovate.
00:37:56 Collaborate, don’t compete.
00:41:45 Collaboration is key.



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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Blythe Brumleve: 0:00

All right, welcome into another episode of everything is logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. I'm your host Blythe Brumleve. And today we're joined by Luke from platform science, he is the SVP of transportation and logistics, we're gonna be talking about the entire world of connected fleets and technology that powers them. So Luke, welcome to the show.

Luke Wachtel: 0:26

Thank you for having me.

Blythe Brumleve: 0:27

So give us a little bit of a sense of your career background and how you started working in logistics?

Luke Wachtel: 0:33

It's good question. I think my story is like a lot of others. In that, I didn't explicitly find my way to trucking. I almost fell into it in that I took a job in a the startup, it was run by a well known tech executive. And I admittedly didn't even really look at what the company did. I just saw the position reported to the CEO. And this person was a was a hero in the industry. And so I took the job. And two months into it after doing some research, I sort of dug into because I have a bit of an analyst background. So I just jumped into understanding the industry and fell for it right away. And in fact, I don't want to give away who they were. But my first couple of meetings with some very large fleets where they asked me questions about how our solution impacted their drivers, and they meant it. So their integrity, came through earnestly. I just fell for the industry. And so that's that was back in 2005. And I've been hooked ever since.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:35

So how did you find yourself joining platform science? Because they really are like such a fantastic new company? We'll get into that in just a few seconds. But how did you join platform science?

Luke Wachtel: 1:45

A little bit of luck, a little bit of I think probably another story that's common in industry, which is a former client of mine, who is a part of the board reached out to me and asked if I'd heard of this organization. And, again, it's kind of a funny story, I sort of gradually took the initial interview, thinking that it was just another similar provider, another mousetrap, if you will. And after a pretty quick conversation with the CEO, I understood what they were really trying to do. And I was hooked.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:17

It was kind of a no brainer for you, it sounds like

Luke Wachtel: 2:19

yeah, without without trying to do any discredit to the founders of the company who really had this idea. The concept itself, the problem that they sort of tackled to solve, has been known for a long time, but no one's successfully tackled it. And so I knew what they meant. But when they explained how they're gonna go about it, it was it was.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:42

And so with, with platform science, specifically, the best way that I can describe it is almost like an app store for fleets. Is that an accurate assessment?

Luke Wachtel: 2:55

It's not bad. So I would say an app store is is almost a byproduct. So early on, what platform science did is, is the founders looked at the market and said, trucking is, in a place not unlike where we were with cell phones, before the iPhone came out, which isn't to say that it was a bad place to be unnecessarily, it just was, we can all agree that we now like the fact that we have choice, the fact that to some extent, was almost abstracted the hardware. What I mean by that is, it doesn't really matter which android phone is an example you buy, and what will run on all of them. Right? We take that for granted now. But we recall that back in the day, pretty much if you bought a Nokia or LG or Sony Ericsson or Blackberry, whatever experience you had was, that was what you were gonna get, there was no way to change that. So back then, the founders recognized they wanted to change, they wanted to bring that mobility evolution, if you will, to trucking. So the second you do that, certainly having an app store is a requirement, right, you would like to get an app store where you can encourage innovation and provide choice. But because we're talking about things that run in commercial vehicles, and not just in a phone, that also means as an example, I'm gonna need to make it easier to have an on truck. So much in the same way, you may think it would be crazy if someone said to, you're going to need to buy an entirely new laptop, if you want to change word processors. We still live in a world generally where if you want to change your telematics, you got to rip out all that hardware, new stuff. kind of silly, if you think about it under the old paradigm. So as an example of where and I'm sorry, I took a bit of a not unlike the marketplace, effectively trying to abstract the hardware so that it became about the software meant going out going and working with the OEMs partnering with them and saying the black boxes and trucks shouldn't matter. We should all be able to use it. What should matter is the stuff that we're actually going to differentiate on which are the applications and so

Blythe Brumleve: 4:52

forgive me if this is a dumb question, but I had I come at it like as a fifth grader. So with the Kinect vehicles, you guys go around to different conferences, especially in the logistics industry. And I was able to take one of these tours of your connected vehicle, and you can kind of see all of the different components within the truck. So how I guess as the business model of platform science, are you connecting the OEMs? With the truck with all of the different partnership solutions that are shown in the connected vehicle? Is that am I way off? And that no, that's

Luke Wachtel: 5:26

very good. Okay. So I wouldn't send it to the fifth grader, I, you know, one of the things we say is that we're an application and data platform is a bit of a mouthful. It's one of the reasons we have a connected vehicle. But that

Blythe Brumleve: 5:39

makes so much more sense than the application and data platform, because now I can kind of connect those dots in my head of the things that I saw, and then the goal of what your company is trying to do. And that's connect all of these different silos together, right?

Luke Wachtel: 5:53

Yes, I would say yes, I would say it's almost a combination of connecting and then eradicating some of the things that today we have to make as decisions Part, and Part of when we're trying to make a different decision, which is an app. So whether whichever, again, Android choose phone you choose, you still have access to Gmail, or whatever it might be, right, we're so at the same time that we're trying to connect the data with everybody and connect applications to one another, which is a story we'll go down in a minute. Part of what we're doing is we're saying in order to really encourage this innovation. In order to get people to want to build on these things, you need to stop making it cut away the silos to cut away the silos, you need to remove the hardware constraint

Blythe Brumleve: 6:35

is no, no, no, that makes perfect sense. Because it's almost like a Mac, where you can't for a long time, you weren't able to install, like Microsoft Word, Excel onto a Mac, because of there are so protective of their ecosystem. But it almost sounds like you guys are just almost an open source. Now I'm gonna say open source is probably a bad comparison. But almost the platform for all of these tools to integrate into you are

Luke Wachtel: 6:59

going down the right path. And I fully appreciate, by the way, the instinct to go open source. It's not too dissimilar. It's funny, it's one of the reasons so we, to some extent, came out of nowhere, but the company was actually in hiding for almost four years. Oh, wow. Four, four, okay, four would be impressive. Do I look that old? No, I'm

Blythe Brumleve: 7:20

40 years. So telematics, I did not think that that existed for that long.

Luke Wachtel: 7:24

No. But as soon as you decide to tackle that problem of creating apps, and disintermediate, the hardware from the software, you have a lot of other hard things you have to do. Creating an app place is just one of them. It's all the other things that we really spend a lot of time doing, for example, you want to create a platform where the different apps can talk to each other. The perfect example being if we in fact enable a lot of apps to be created, we create the problem of having potentially a driver who is really trying to do their main job, which is driving maybe haul some goods out of the truck, whatever might be, have to log in to log out of and deal with, say, 13 different applications.

Blythe Brumleve: 8:03

That's true. Yeah,

Luke Wachtel: 8:05

I mean, as it is, I probably overburdened with it myself on my own phone. So as soon as you do that, it means not only should I create innovation, and open up to the marketplace, I should create connections or tethers between each application so they can talk to each other, maybe make it so that they can all log in with a single sign on log on and log out with a seamless log off, if you will, rather than all of them dependent on these little things, the collection of these problems, all of that had to be solved in order to make things easy. So that people would be interested in making a change from what was a Blackberry, I myself love my Blackberry and I love to to pull away from it right. But once it became less intimidating, to have choice, and it became simple, one of the geniuses of Apple, right wasn't just a touchscreen, it was making it easy to adopt what is really scary technology, lots of different applications,

Blythe Brumleve: 8:56

and especially for the fact of truck drivers, you know, they are famously sort of I guess resistant to adopting new sound drivers, I should probably say not all of them are resistant to a lot of the I guess, you know, tracking technologies and all of the different, you know, applications that are part of the job now, but it's a necessary part of the job. And there was one statement that that one of you guys made, and I believe it was that drivers and fleets actually enjoy using that's the kind of software that you wanted to create. Can you kind of expand on that a little bit on that, I guess, approach to make it more adoptable for these fleets and these drivers to say this is something I want to use.

Luke Wachtel: 9:36

Certainly, it's actually with a lot of pride. So, you know, to some people, you might say we are a platform, and it's very complex. It's one of the reasons we have this connected vehicle lab because we have to explain the vision. But to some extent, we're also a solution provider. So you could go buy an iPhone and only use their applications never leave the application ecosystem, right. Or you could maybe select from Emily In other applications, we are both not unlike Apple that we have to create a good solution to drive the adoption of the product. And I say that because an a testament to our engineering team, we are very proud of the ways that we've not only and then enabled partners, developers, even fleets, who want to develop their own applications, but our own applications to be driver friendly. What that means is, it isn't is necessarily just a modern UI, which I think we've all come to expect. So that might look like what your Android or iPhone looks like. Its familiarity,

Blythe Brumleve: 10:32

I think, with that format, too. Yes, very much.

Luke Wachtel: 10:35

That's honestly, I think table stakes nowadays, for anybody who's introducing a relatively new application or telematics solution, whatever it might be, where I think it gets different, and that's unique to both trucking and enterprise is in pieces that are a little more subtle. That may include we talked about before, for example, enabling a driver to have choice of lots of different applications and the fleet for that matter. But have that still might be a daunting thing where again, a driver may work, for example, we have a workflow product, that is its conditional logic based application that walks you through everything today. So instead of having to learn 54 codes of what might happen, you literally just say, Did you turn left or right, I turned left, well, then this is your next thing to do. Right? That's maybe a bad analogy. Think of it as like one of those books, you might have read as a kid conditional logic, which says, if you open the door on the left, go to page 34. Right? That seems sort of I'm not talking to the fifth grade.

Blythe Brumleve: 11:35

What what does it choose your own adventure? Yeah, you

Luke Wachtel: 11:39

gotta remember that. Similar concept means that you did actually makes it takes the burden off the driver having to learn all the logic on all the different scenarios. Instead, it just says, As an example, where you just had an accident, right? One of our partners, firstly, who was a customer of ours, actually became a developer as well. We have some customers like that develop their own workflow very similar to ours, but differentiated in their own way. And they tell a great example of how drivers an accident, you click a button that says there was an accident and it walks them through. What was involved is there an officer was something damage, just someone hurt in different logic shows up with different tasks. Take a picture of this, do this call this person, here's the number spoonfed, right. So that's a great example of where if you're a driver, a makes your life easier. I mean, it's almost like the gym roll. Never join a gym, that's more than 30 minutes away, right. So what that means, by the way, a nice little side note is that it means any application whether it's when we built or a partner application that a fleet may have already had. When the experience becomes easier, it gets higher adoption.

Blythe Brumleve: 12:41

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Luke Wachtel: 13:34

Perfect question. So most likely Kleenex, right? It's a it's a word that is that is thrown around, sometimes in a more general definition than it necessarily actually meant. So I use that because for example, some people might just say ELD, right. And then RAC. In fact, the ELD is just a single element of potentially a full telematics solution that may include a display, strictly speaking, telematics could literally just be a blackbox sending you tracking, that's it.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:06

So there's no consensus

Luke Wachtel: 14:07

call out Yes. We actually like to say to people, you know, if I have to enter an elevator in 30 seconds, I might say, Yes, I work for a telematics service provider, but it's really not. It's a platform that's interest. telematics is a function of what we do. That's why it's such a great question.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:22

Thank you. So when so now that we kind of have you know, it's, I guess, a little bit of like Muddy Waters when it comes to telematics itself. But you also mentioned that you involve the driver very much in detail, especially with the fleet owners themselves, if they want to create their own workflows and things like that. What does that feedback loop look like for you guys? Are you guys improving your own software? Or are you just facilitating the ability for these fleets to be able to improve their own software? Like, are you the developers or are they the developers and you kind of let depending on the relationship, what is it I guess maybe that's a larger partnership question. And I guess maybe break down what a partnership looks like for you guys.

Luke Wachtel: 15:04

It's a wonderful debate that that any tech company goes through. And I don't mean tech as in necessarily just us. You can be a trucking company that has a tech, and they have the same challenge potential riches. am I building this thing? And I'm going to put myself on an island? Or am I buying this? And what I buying? Is it configurable enough that I can do different things with it? It's a long way of me saying the answer your question is a bit of a yes, you need both. So I would

Blythe Brumleve: 15:31

imagine you kind of have to?

Luke Wachtel: 15:33

Well, yeah, so from from a feedback perspective, first of all, we're fortunate enough to have had a lot of experience a lot of very excellence. We've tailored a lot of our experience to that. And some of that simply came out because some of our earliest customers were very innovative large fleets, right. Everything from our sales process, to how we do cube ers, to how when we go to meet with the fleet, we bring not only a account executive, but a solution engineer and a product person and a program manager, like everything about it is effectively engineer with the concept of we need to understand what's going on that's inherently its own feedback loop. As long as you have that with the CBL, right, we could have just a small 10 by 10 booth, and just show our application stack and maybe the 100 that we sell, but we have to have an entire truck to show vision, different hardware options, because we're empowering lots of hardware providers, all the different applications, we could encourage literally categories, right? Here's what the future might look like. So inherently, that means you have to have a discussion, we very rarely actually do a lot of selling, it's really more a function of what's going on with you. What are the problems trying to change? Why you trying to change that? Why you try to solve that? How painful is it? That is inherent minutes, it's basically the inquisitive everyone in the company. I think there's a general theme of the company, it's that sort of inquisitiveness, but a lot of why's being asked, rather than just I know the answer. And why did you ask that question, right?

Blythe Brumleve: 16:57

And it probably saves them a lot of time, because maybe you're getting to a place where other companies have had experience and trying to do things and maybe you want to save them a little bit of time and effort and energy into what they're trying to do the why behind it.

Luke Wachtel: 17:10

So to come back to the question, I'm sorry, I went off on a tangent there, there's sort of two parts, first of all, because the company literally from its assumption, made the choice to enable adoption and others. It built a framework. We like to say that we eat our own dog food. So the solutions we provided that we compete against our partners, but now effectively, they're all partners, and arguably competition, but they're all partners, the same way that Gmail competes with Apple Mail or Google Maps. And we use the same tools, we built the tools. So we were effectively almost our own feedback loop. Like, by virtue of creating our own navigation solution, we learned how to create a better offering as a partner for our other providers of navigation such as copilot, right. So everything we use to make our navigation solution better we offer to all of our partners like them for better and tighter integration, the ability to update maps over Wi Fi only as an example, all these little things. So that really enables us to not only improve the product, but put to sort of be customers of that same thing. The other thing I'll say that's interesting. From a feedback loop perspective, I just lost my train of thought, unfortunately,

Blythe Brumleve: 18:28

well, I think you hit on something that I think is important. And that you you said you eat your own dog food, but then in a sense that you are testing out these things ahead of time. And you can kind of be that test dummy for your for lack of a better phrase for your

Luke Wachtel: 18:44

for your park. So that's certainly part of it. So it is worth pointing out that there are some companies that come to us and say I love your platform, I just want that I'm gonna build my own stuff. And there's some that say, I want a new tire solution. I don't know what I'm doing, do it all for me, and everything in the middle. But I think what's important to note is that even the most tech for a company who literally designed in some cases, even their own ELD I mean, really, I jokingly some of them, say I'm a trucking company or tech company with a trucking problem. I think that kind of tech company recognizes the value of having something like our platform, where we can create enough standardization and abstraction of all the things that are in fact quite hard like setting up a secure connection. Being able to work on multiple different hardware boxes, whether it's an display like a tablet, or the black box that connects to the trucks, ECM, whatever it might be telematics telematics platform data plan, yes, all of that. We can do that for them. They can focus on what they really should be differentiating on, which is the application itself, and the problems that's trying to solve whether it's safety or operations or whatever it might be.

Blythe Brumleve: 19:52

So what does that I guess here you're the ethos of your partnership program look like is five want to if I run a trucking company He and I want to become a partner of platform science. What does that process look like?

Luke Wachtel: 20:04

Sure, it's a long one to become as a partner as a trucking company

Blythe Brumleve: 20:08

as a as a well, maybe both? How about both? Yeah.

Luke Wachtel: 20:13

Did that to myself?

Blythe Brumleve: 20:13

Yeah. I would like to know the answer to both.

Luke Wachtel: 20:19

Um, so from a partner perspective I'm not so sure, I could say we're open to all comers per se. It is it should be. It is a it is a curated marketplace to some extent, and not that we're trying to create a walled garden, that's something we actually try to avoid. Hardly that you want to

Blythe Brumleve: 20:38

not bring the crap in?

Luke Wachtel: 20:41

Well, yeah, so as an example, there's something called speed testing, where, let's say it's a free app, because it's just, we're not really adding any value to the market wants it and you want to put it on there. Okay, we're still gonna put it through on speed testing, where we make sure there aren't data holes in it, it's not doing anything nefarious, there's no malware in there. Because we want to protect it's still enterprise grade marketplace, right. So that's why it's a little bit different as a marketplace, it's not just anybody can throw anything in there. Right. And to that extent, you know, depending upon the partner, we might say to them, if they want to become a partner, hey, by the way, hear all these SDKs, and all these services you can apply to, we have these design principles we'd like you to follow, if you can get the data from somewhere else, like one of our other applications that will publish that data, rather than ask the driver for if you have to ask the driver for it, keep it, don't ask them for it again, pass it to other applications, right? And or if they have to enter something, right, use some logic, like, if you know, it's gonna be five digits, not seven digits, don't let them enter anything longer than five or less than five digits, like all these little tricks in the trade, we try to empower all of them to be better as applications, leveraging our environment. So you can just throw in the marketplace where we can say, take some time, take advantage of the SDKs and everything else in the API's. And in so doing, we hope, make a much easier application. marketplace for

Blythe Brumleve: 22:02

real quick SDK, what does that mean?

Luke Wachtel: 22:05

Software Developer Kit,

Blythe Brumleve: 22:06

oh, okay, perfect. I was like, wait, I know that's an acronym, they've freight acronyms that you always have to, you know, get a little clarity on. So think

Luke Wachtel: 22:14

of it this way. So driver logs into a workflow, they get to dispatch the dispatch, it says, I need you to scan a bill of lading while you're there, or whatever it might be. In this workflow. In the old world, you might have said, Oh, I've got to go. Now go find my scanning app, go log into the scanning app, open the app, find the bill of lading section because they have usually specific types of scanning formats, scan it, then maybe send it or cut it and paste it or find what file it got downloaded to go to the workflow user message. In our scenario, instead, it's time to scan hit the Scan button. Without the driver knowing the scanning application gets opened to the section for the bill of lading, scans it when it's done, closes it brings it right back to the workflow has already embedded it, it's reading the data automatically adds it to the workflow maybe adds it to their logs if they actually have data like a trailer and lumber in there. So that's the kind of experience where it's simple and elegant, but in the background, and SDK told one thing to do another there were data data was passed between them. Maybe we use an API to pass on that data, the back office. So it isn't sexy on a PowerPoint presentation, right? But it's what makes everything easy.

Blythe Brumleve: 23:18

And for I guess, for folks who may not be aware of like the different I guess applications and capabilities and all of the technology that is inside of a truck now, can you give us a kind of a sense, high level view of what things can be tracked? What what information is important to a fleet?

Luke Wachtel: 23:38

That's how long do we have?

Blythe Brumleve: 23:42

mileage? Is it maintenance? Is it give us a sense of what the high level reason that someone would become a platform science customer?

Luke Wachtel: 23:53

So that's a different question and great question. So I think like when telematics got started, you would basically just wanted geo pics meaning latitude, longitude, where is my truck? Maybe you also wanted to know what speed it was driving, what the tank level was that kinds of things. Data got more robust to start to understand things like seatbelt usage. How was the truck being driven? Was there a critical event? I think that's all standard stuff. And that's what people think of when they're accustomed to telematics, someone who comes to platform science. It's not that they might not come to us just for telematics, and frankly, thanks to our partnerships with the OEMs, we may very well end up with lots of customers that really just want that data, and they don't want have to install hardware for it. A lot of the customers we've worked with most recently have come to us, for frankly, a spectrum of reasons. On the one end of the spectrum, you could simply be I've had a provider for the past 30 years. I need to replace them. I hear you I hear you're great. I know you're customed to work with lots and lots of vehicles. You theoretically are at least as good as them if not better, right Greg? A new UI great job experience. And I have choice. And I have future proofing, right? Because I may, for example, decide that you want all the applications that platform science provides. But then a couple years later, you decide, Hey, someone else did a better job with workflow, I'm going to use their software, maybe I'm going to build my own. Or I've decided I want a different navigation solution. Or maybe I'm changing trucks, and I want a different black box in the truck. All of that is possible, the difficult integration work that you would do to plug in these systems to all the things because that data, we talked about the telematics data feeds, safety people, compliance, people, operations, people accounts payable, like these, this data gets passed all throughout the fleet, right? So making a change is not a trivial thing. So if they can make the change once, but be able to change the applications, again, this comes back to the analogy of, for example, would you ever consider having to download an app that requires you buy an iPhone for the app? Absolutely not. It's kind of what we're doing.

Blythe Brumleve: 25:59

And so if we think about it from I guess, the user standpoint, so if I'm, if I'm the driver, and I go into my truck, is there a platform science screen or device that's inside the truck? I mean, I know you guys have capabilities with, you know, all of these different partners. But is there a central platform science dashboard? Or is that more of an application that's on a computer? It's a great question, which I guess, are kind of both computers,

Luke Wachtel: 26:24

you can more or less Think of us as almost like Android Auto, or Apple CarPlay for trucking. So we have software that actually runs on the black box. That's what the OEMs have asked us to sort of take over. But from a driver perspective, yes, there is a user interface. That's a fairly common user interface that makes it easier for the drivers to all learn this sort of same thing. That can be configured, by the way by fleet by driver all kinds of things. That's some of the fun, I would argue a little bit like an Android is a little more configurable than an iPhone there. There is some Yeah, a little bit like without actually jailbreaking, yes, that's actually great. You want to actually void the warranty in this process. Instead, do as an example, let's say, for example, a driver could literally log into a truck one day, because that day, they're driving for just a driver. And when they log in, it's a different experience. It has clocks, nav, maybe weather when they're going because it's it's traditionally a long haul or regular route, then the next day, they end just for some reason, get assigned to the local fleet, get into a day cab, same tablet, by the way, the maybe the driver owns, goes into that truck types in the truck ID puts it in the in the cradle, shows up in a different experience shows up, same basic experience. So it's not gonna have to learn anything different. But now, maybe they don't need to have it's a little more out, they know where they're going. They don't need a weather widget that shows them where the weather is in your life, where they're going, it's just going to focus on hours available in the next five stops, they have to go to very easily to config can be done in the background. Like that kind of experience is quite simple. And I just wanted a complete tangent that maybe you didn't need to

Blythe Brumleve: 27:54

hear. But I think that that's good, because I mean, I know that drivers are so particular, especially, you know, owner operators are so particular about their trucks, and everything that goes on it, and everything that goes in it, and who's watching and who's not watching. And it's a whole internal debate on how you're going to grow professionally as a driver. And so knowing that these solutions exist, that they can customize, I think is really interesting. Another interesting aspect is that these, especially in supply chain and logistics, we have kind of an issue with data sharing, and collaboration and or the lack thereof. But it looks like you guys are really focusing in on that collaboration aspect and trying to bring some of those silos out. And together, is that a fair assumption? It is. You can tell me if I'm wrong, too, by the way? No, no, it's

Luke Wachtel: 28:43

very true. And just before I leave it, because I'm not sure sure it completely inserted. The experience of the driver today would be potentially seeing a tablet. And we would be like that Android over that experience. And then it could be our apps or it could be other apps, whatever. And in the not too distant future that may in fact be embedded. Not unlike now you sometimes use Android literally on a tablet or it's on the built in display. And Tim quick that's coming. I mean, the OEMs are going down that path on the data side. Very much so so we just a dirty little secret the industry that a lot of people who were arguably brokers of the state, if you will, they were able to connect, either they provide the actual connection or the systems that would enable fleets to get access to this data often marketed this. Right. We're very proud and saying that no, it's it's our customers that we're actually extremely protective of it, which happens to be useful in this in this era of Evermore stringent laws around privacy thanks to conditional Europe now California, and it's only getting more intense. What that actually means is that in a way we almost are that broker, we are able to make secure more granular decisions for both the partners and the customer on what data goes, where it goes and who gets access to. So instead of having to be more restrictive, it actually means people feel more comfortable sharing it. So in fact, we've had some interesting conversations here at the show, where there are some partners who say I have an app on the device right now, when a driver is delivering to a particular partner of ours, or location or shipper. And I don't really need the app, I just need some data to be shared, can we have this happen in the background. So you have a an infrastructure that can is granular enough to say this data gets shared, this doesn't on the app level, rather than in the cloud, you do two things, one, you you actually free people up because they're not more comfortable sharing this data. And and this is a bit of a call out to the compliance and safety and lawyers in this world, you could potentially throw away data that you don't want to go to the cloud.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:53

That means that yeah, I'm sure that I'm sure D O T would not be here. No, no, no,

Luke Wachtel: 31:00

I don't mean in a legal fashion. What I mean is, you know, unfortunately, we live in a highly litigious time, right with these nuclear fanatics, which is someone who's, who's addicted to safety. Yeah, that's true. So there are times when people say to us, I'm not sure if I can adopt that technology, because if that data gets to the cloud, someone might abuse it. But we can say we can leverage the data and not ever let it get to the cloud, because there's computing on the edge computing at the tablet level, rather than just in the cloud, and thereby actually encourage innovation.

Blythe Brumleve: 31:26

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Luke Wachtel: 33:07

I think they would like that analogy is what our CTO Yeah. So two things, one. Certainly, what it takes to do telematics, which seems to be a theme that keeps coming back to the the hardware makeup that is required to do that is unknown. Science is no longer something through which people thoroughly innovate, right, you need Linux box, probably you need GPS sensor, you need a modem and a SIM card capability to transmit right LTE, whatever the things that you need are well known, well understood, highly manufactured. It's a completely commoditized market. So that's so in fact, most of the OEMs have been putting these boxes in their trucks since as long back as 2018 Oh, wow. Whether you knew it or not to help improve their own trucks or like to monitor transmissions and say, How should I make my truck better next time? Or how do I tune it to help provide a better service to their customers good for them. So I'm not going to suggest that any one of them is better or worse than the others. But But frankly, that hardware paradigm is fairly well understood. So there are in fact, some similarities. In fact, if you had to come to us and buy a black box from us, which we don't infect, manufacture ourselves, it would look a lot like that. Because you're trying to solve the same thing. So that stuff's readily available. So in that sense, they are quite similar.

Blythe Brumleve: 34:35

And so when we think about, I guess, maybe the whole like, I guess, global trucking ecosystem of the big problems, problems that you guys are trying to solve with your software. Is there any other I guess, sort of point that you really wanted to make about platform science about the initiative that you guys are going after that I wasn't smart enough to ask?

Luke Wachtel: 34:58

Well, I'm not going to touch the second But what did I miss? The Best question, one of the best questions,

Blythe Brumleve: 35:06

what's important that I did not hit on? Now you

Luke Wachtel: 35:09

really just don't think so. So what I would say is this one. So we're an interesting place. One of the reasons again, we have this big CVO and give people these big long tours is not just to say, look at my fancy

Blythe Brumleve: 35:24

term connected vehicle lab for folks. Thank you. It's really

Luke Wachtel: 35:27

because when someone asked me the question, and they and they say, Are you this? Or are you this? I often say yes. So the answer, the takeaway would be, well, the second platform science decided they want this experience to be better. They want choices for fleets, they want them not to be tied to hardware, things that we completely take for granted in this world, we had to go tackle several things at once, it had to be more than one thing. So we're arguably two companies, there's an extent to which it's called virtual vehicle, we worked really hard on the way to abstract the hardware to be really good at the black box to be really good at setting up Wi Fi securely. Make not have you can care about the hardware. It's what the OEMs got attracted to. And when we chose this, this belief of but anyone can run on it, like Android and iOS have done. That's another reason the OEMs came to us and said, I no longer have to pick one provider of these boxes, that if my customer, for example only has half their fleet or doesn't have at all they have to ignore and install a whole nother completely duplicative box, we came in and said, Let everybody run them that everybody that you may think of traditionally is my competition, it's actually a few departments. At some point, it'll run on here, just like Google Maps, runs on your iPhone, all of these tsps all these different solutions, competitive navigation workflow, DVIR, ELD, all of it will run. So OEMs love it, because I've just eliminated that risk. And drivers and fleets now recognize, I don't need to worry about that anymore. It's like this. A little older. I recall the day when I bought a car and it didn't come with a radio when I had to go to like Best Buy or tweeter and bio radio and put it in there. Right? Yeah, with the

Blythe Brumleve: 37:06

dolphins like swimming on it. I remember, remember that at best by looking at those things. Wow, I can't wait to get one of those videos.

Luke Wachtel: 37:16

doesn't happen anymore. Right? The radio somewhere. Eventually, they figured out that we'll partner with Sony or or whatever the manufacturers are. And now it just comes with and you choose the premium or otherwise, the same should be true. These black boxes. There's not rocket science behind what does that telematics push. So if you make that open, that inherently brings us what platform science test. So we both do that. In this platform. We want every truck to run, whether it's in the dash like you do with your car now for Android Auto and enable application so great at the solutions if someone wants to buy it. We're really revolutionising this space by saying, here's this platform to make everything better. It's almost

Blythe Brumleve: 37:55

your it's collaboration over competition. Yes. Which is Yeah, I think that's the

Luke Wachtel: 38:00

I'm allowed to say something like competition, because it seems like a what was the phrase? coopetition coopetition.

Blythe Brumleve: 38:06

Oh, it's that's that's the episode title. Oh, please. No, it's

Luke Wachtel: 38:09

second only to my least favorite statement, which would be synergies. We have synergies here,

Blythe Brumleve: 38:16


Luke Wachtel: 38:20

It is to some extent competition. But wouldn't everyone benefit? If when platform science tells you a workflow, I'm competing against three other people doing the same thing. That might even be the fleet itself? Well, maybe

Blythe Brumleve: 38:32

your collaboration is your competitive advantage. All right, look, it's great conversation, where can folks find you find your work, find platform science, connected vehicle lab, all that good stuff?

Luke Wachtel: 38:46

Well, so the connected vehicle lab, we'd like to bring to the big trade shows. So tmca, ta ntdc, freightwaves. And we, you know, MPTC, we try to do all these things. And actually one of the cool parts about our CDL connected vehicle lab is when a few locks up timing is when COVID and it became our mobile sort of trade show. So we we do actually bring it to fleets. And actually this comes back to your fugu feedback loop question. So one of the things that we we, and this comes back to that sort of inquisitive statement, we like to go to a fleet with the CBL, because showing up to a room, let's say a big boardroom, somewhere where there are six or seven executives, and you're showing PowerPoints. So it's really a disservice to how significant it is something like what we're offering, and frankly, any of our peers, which is a mission critical service. It's a disservice to how that should be done. We like being able to bring the CDL because then we can get 3040 50 people to come through at some point. All of them we talked to who should hear the vision, because it's as important to talk to the person who signs the check. were authorized as the budget as it is to the 20 people that actually do it at the at the mid level level mid level management But let's say, then the driver themselves, the people, that mechanic, the person who's in charge of procurement, the driver manager, we get all of them in. That's actually where we learn the most.

Blythe Brumleve: 40:09

Absolutely the in the trenches employees are almost forgotten about by too many companies, I'm glad that you guys take that approach

Luke Wachtel: 40:16

will literally, if someone walked up to me tomorrow and said, Here's a check, I want your business, we would say, Okay, we can't send the contract to you, we're not going to finish this thing. We're not gonna install you to do our worship, because everybody has to see what's happening. And everyone has to be involved. Smart. Alright, sorry. I can tell I can go on about this request.

Blythe Brumleve: 40:34

I mean, it please do. You can. I mean, we're up against the clock here. But I wish we could talk a little bit more about that about 45 minutes good discussion, like you finally figured out what telematics are, I think. But where can folks find you? Platform The website, of course, for future trade shows to

Luke Wachtel: 40:52

come come to the trade shows, I don't know if I'm supposed to actually go to my personal email address, or just it's platform is the place to go.

Blythe Brumleve: 40:58

And then I think you're on LinkedIn as well. I am in the so we will add all of that information in the show notes just in case. People want to check out and connect with you and learn more about all of the different partnership options that you guys have.

Luke Wachtel: 41:09

Yes, please. We're looking very much for the not just the clients, but the partners who want to you know, we're we're excited to foster innovation. What excites me is the fact that there are some people out there that in the past have had ideas that they couldn't break into, no one would have gone to BlackBerry and said, Here's an app because like I would just built it themselves, right? There are people out there right now who are thinking I have a better safety application or a better operations application or something specific to the person who drives a bus versus the person who has a truck, whatever it might be. And they're thinking I cannot do this because I couldn't get on that. I don't think that really excites

Blythe Brumleve: 41:44

me. Love it. Collaboration is your competitive advantage. Yes, yes. Thank you. Thanks so much. I hope you enjoy this episode of everything is logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. If you liked this episode, do me a favor and sign up for our newsletter. I know what you're probably thinking, oh God, another newsletter. But it's the easiest way to stay updated when new episodes are released. Plus, we drop a lot of gems in that email to help the one person marketing team and folks like yourself who are probably wearing a lot of hats at work in order to help you navigate this digital world a little bit easier. You could find that email signup link along with our socials and past episodes. Over at everything is 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.