Last year, transportation management systems (TMS) made substantial advances toward creating “end-to-end supply chain visibility.”

With vendors including much more optimization abilities within their software solutions, logistics professionals were able to simplify their supply chains while making them much more efficient.

Also in 2016, Oracle and other providers of enterprise resource planning (ERP) increasingly made forays into supply chain technology, opening the door for more logistics operations to use a TMS within their overall enterprise solutions. This is a big shift from having to buy separate TMS and ERP solutions from different vendors.

Last year also saw more interest in execution management, as companies used new ways to conduct freight transactions more efficiently.

As for this year, here are a few supply chain trends to keep an eye out for.

End-to-end supply chain visibility?

For decades, supply chain professionals have wanted the ability to track freight around the clock on a real-time basis, and industry experts say the capacity to do so is almost here. The tracking technology has blown up over the last 12 months, with systems like LeanLogistics delivering unprecedented levels of supply chain visibility.

Furthermore, companies like Amazon are changing the visibility game with their innovative last-mile solutions.

More TMS adoption among smaller companies

Historically, a small minority of small and midsize companies have adopted TMS solutions. However, new cloud-based systems have made adopting the technology much easier since smaller companies only have to set up a subscription.

Higher transportation costs are also forcing these smaller companies to become smarter about how they ship.

ROI increasing

TMS has not only held onto its reputable name for delivering on ROI projections, but ROI has actually increased during the last six years. This year, users can expect approximately 5 percent to 10 percent freight cost reductions after thorough the use of a TMS, with the higher end of the scale rising by 2 percent or more.

Those lower freight costs are driven by making sure the best carriers are selected for particular shipments, optimization of transportation routines and better decision making via increased data and analytics capabilities.

More cloud-based solutions

TMS is increasingly changing from being an installed solution to a web-based platform where logistics professionals, carriers and customers have access to relevant data via the web in real-time.

As noted above, this shift to the cloud has made TMS more accessible and it has allowed ERP providers to break into the market and serve a large customer base. All of these trends reinforce each other and should continue to do so through 2017.

Indirect adoption of TMS solutions

By developing or buying cutting-edge supply chain applications, third-party logistics providers can then offer this functionality as part of a comprehensive logistics management package. This trend, which should continue through 2017, is particularly noticeable on the e-commerce fulfillment side.

Work with a Top Supply Chain Recruiter

At ZDA, we realize that even the most effective technology solutions need skilled professionals. If your supply chain operation is in need to talented professionals, please contact us to work with a top supply chain recruiter.