GRAPEVINE, Texas—Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the data scientists at McLeod Software are expanding its rate analysis tool, MPact, to offer predictive analytics to help carriers make decisions about future freight. The trucking software company announced the new MPactPro offering during its in-person user conference this week.
MPact has seen dramatic growth in user adoption over the last year, Mark Cubine, McLeod’s VP of marketing, told FleetOwner. MPact is an added layer for McLeod’s Market Insight, an extensive rate database collected from over 1,000 rate contributors who are McLeod customers. That rate data, sent directly from McLeod customers’ systems every night, arrives every evening and is aggregated, then processed, to provide daily and historical pictures of accurate lane rate data for different types of freight and equipment while keeping the individual carrier’s or broker’s submission confidential.
“We’ve made a much easier way to gain a deeper understanding of market pricing in near-real-time,” Cubine said. “There are a lot of people who can look at a spreadsheet and not deduce everything that’s happened there. But when you start looking at some of the AI tools, machine learning tools, and analysis tools that we’ve layered on top of the data, it’s much easier for all respectable people to see and understand the whole rate question.”
MPact gives McLeod customers a clear picture of the current market for the various categories of truckload freight on a lane-by-lane basis. MPactPro will integrate its customers’ internal data to present a picture of the market that is more specific for their company and operating costs and enable them to improve load profitability and lane optimization for their network.
MPactPro includes a visual analysis tool in the form of a “Decomposition Tree” that brings multiple data points into a single view to help customers determine the “why” of things that are profitable or not. It gives the customer insight into what is driving the margin behavior and trends.
Cubine said the expansion of MPact will be valuable to customer service representatives trying to figure out how to price a spot rate quote and for pricing managers filling out longer-term bids by looking at market trends. “MPact is a layer of analytics and data science on top of the market rate data that makes it easier for everybody in the organization to understand and act on it,” he explained.
Productivity Benchmarks in MPactPro will also show McLeod customers how their employees perform relative to operations at similar-sized companies in their revenue category.
Some of McLeod’s planned benchmarks include various cost elements:
- Bills processed per labor hour
- Drivers per full-time equivalent (FTE) of home office support
- Book of business (revenue) per FTE
- Revenue growth relative to other similar companies
Benchmarks also help customers evaluate their lane activity:
- Where are the hot lanes now?
- Which lane opportunities are in the balance?
- Which are the “go” and “no-go” lanes?
- Understanding details on OD pairs that articulate brokerage to carrier ratio, backhaul vs. head haul, and where to go next.
MPactPro brings a new point of decision analysis window in McLeod’s LoadMaster and PowerBroker products that will display relevant graphic analysis to the users at the right time and place, according to Ken Craig, McLeod’s VP of special products. This feature will be incorporated for a wide number of users and roles within its customers’ organizations.
“We showed MPact to someone from one of our top 10 trucking companies and he just sat there and looked at it for about 10 seconds and said, ‘We’re leaving money on the table,’” Craig told FleetOwner. “That’s how easy it was and how fast it was for him to look at the rate structure, rate trends and rate pressure. What kind of value is that to a customer?”
As AI becomes more powerful, Craig said that McLeod can offer more predictive analytics to its customers. “We can say here’s where we think things are going, here’s where the trends are, those types of things,” Craig said. “AI and machine learning give us the capability to move that to the next level, which is prescriptive: You should take this load; you should do this; you should have maintenance now. That’s where the real potential of AI lies. And we’ve got the data and the team to exploit that.”
MPactPro will offer an application programming interface to the aggregated MPact data to allow customers to build out their own reports, analysis, and metrics. A new feature coming to MPactPro will support the concept of “natural language processing,” designed to give less technical users the specific information they are looking for, without needing help from an analyst or programmer. For example, a user can request, “show me my most profitable lane.”