Takeaways from TPM and TPMTech

It was fantastic to be at TPMTech and TPM this year. The energy was easily felt as people from across the industry gathered for the first time in years. We were back creating connections and building relationships.

My conversations throughout the week touched on a central need in the industry- to integrate disconnected data and applications. “A networked business starts with connected processes” noted the opening keynote speaker at TPMTech, and it was reinforced on the stages of both conferences.

A refrain at TPMTech was that data connections between thousands of parties in supply chains are missing. The all too common link is Excel, which speakers noted numerous times with disdain.

Spreadsheets may be easy to use, but the faux interoperability comes at the cost of lower productivity and broken-up workflows. Logistics processes increasingly must integrate with partners who use different technologies and applications and which remain siloed without a universal translator.

No Code & Low-Code Integration Applications are Growing in Value

The rise of no code and low-code was highlighted in an engaging panel on the future of logistics applications.

In general, the mood at TPMTech was positive and optimistic, and attendees seemed pleased to discuss and make connections. The recurring on-stage and hallway comments pointing to rising demand for data sharing, single sources of integration and constellations of connected applications were encouraging to Splice, of course.

Switching to TPM, the theme was “Relationships Matter,” a reference to the need to be together again as well as the primacy of business relationships in solving logistics’ problems.

Relationships are Central to Bridging the Growing Gaps

The state of container logistics was described as “sclerotic, slow to innovate and overregulated” as we recently mentioned in our argument for market-wide workflow integration. These rough words were punctuated during an apparent award ceremony for the year’s best customer service by an ocean carrier. Instead of awarding the prize, the presenter explained why nobody deserved it and walked off the stage to a mix of applause and snickers. It seems some industry relationships will take time to repair.

The State of the Union address took place on the second evening of TPM, where President Biden announced that the administration will “crackdown” on ocean carriers. The speech came on the heels of TPM sessions featuring US government and Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) officials discussing the government’s increasing involvement in the market. The State of the Union was screened outside a reception, but most people did not pay attention and kept networking with a drink in hand.

Perhaps that sums up TPM. The industry faces many formidable challenges and glaring spotlights still shine on it, yet given the ups and downs, industry leaders focus on relationships. Connections are the means to moving multimodal cargo, and while the week in Long Beach showed that digital connections are accelerating in importance, business relationships are critical to making networks work.