What has your smartphone replaced?

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Updated Mar 13, 2015

In an online seminar Wednesday, BigRoad COO Terry Frey emphasized the utility drivers, independents and small fleets now enjoy from a single device. Today’s smartphones can enable, with the right software, a single spot from which to do the work of a good map or GPS unit, traditional load board, IFTA program, log book and more.

Drivers are well familiar with the fact and have not been shy about running with good programs where real utility is involved. Frey’s company, which provides a logbook and/or fleet-management solution run on a driver’s phone, has benefited from such, with, he said, more than 3,000 fleets large and small using the app today. “Some call trucking a low-tech industry,” he added, but “there’s a long history of technology in the cabs of trucks. Drivers are at the forefront of tech advancements.”

He charted back to the uptake of the CB radio years ago. “From then on,” when it comes to communications tech, drivers are “very leading edge.”

During the presentation Frey referenced Overdrive‘s 2014 internet use survey, which showed 80 percent of drivers using some kind of smartphone. That percentage is only expected to grow long-term.During the presentation Frey referenced Overdrive‘s 2014 internet use survey, which showed 80 percent of drivers using some kind of smartphone. That percentage is only expected to grow long-term.

A single device that “we can put in our pocket has the horsepower of a supercomputer of several years ago,” Frey said. “You can do far more than ever thought possible.”

Software developers from longstanding players in routing, logs and load matching to an array of start-ups are delivering more and better functionality to mobile apps. For instance, as Frey noted, the MyDAT Trucker app from longtime load-board players at DAT delivers load-matching capability as well as hotels, truck stops and other locating/routing capabilities. Overdrive‘s Trucker Tools also comes to mind as a multifunction utility for on-highway needs.

Frey also called out the Trucker Path app, which initially made its name with robust smartphone-based trip planning functionality. It’s now joined several other start-ups — from local-trucking-specific Cargomatic to long-haul startups Keychain Logistics, DashHaul and others — out there positioning themselves to earn the “Uber of trucking” moniker. Trucker Path’s load platform is currently invite-only, but in a recent press release it touted $1.5 million in funding it had garnered from Renren, a “Chinese holding company that powers one of China’s biggest social network.”

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The company also noted 100,000 active users of its app and talked about the “marketplace-driven approach” to freight in the works toward what it calls a “more efficient and cost-effective system for parties on both sides” of the freight transaction. “To help achieve this goal, Trucker Path is looking to acquire a freight broker.”

Things are happening all around load matching, with big truckload players like DAT and Internet Truckstop refining their platforms as well to lessen transactional friction in some areas. We’ll be reporting more on the subject in the April issue. Stay tuned.

For now, a question: What parts of your business do you now conduct on your phone that you once did elsewhere? Sound off in the comments…