Having attended the IAM (International Association of Movers) standard data exchange meeting in Chicago in October, and voiced his opinion on the practical way forward, Max Kreynin from Voxme Software Inc in Toronto, Canada expands on his view of the potential of embracing this potential communication revolution.
Now we have a common set of numeric codes and even a file structure for shipment data exchange. As great as it sounds, ask yourself honestly - what is it good for other than a checkbox in a juicy RFP? The pragmatic answer is nothing, unless we have a standard mechanism for exchanging these files and the documents that come with it. When you write an e-mail, you don’t think about how it gets to the recipient. You just press the ‘Send’ button and back comes the delivery receipt. Do you care how it happens or even care to know how it happens? No. You pay for your cloud inbox and your Internet, occasionally you even pay for Microsoft Outlook and that’s about it.
That’s where we need to get to, and from the practical perspective it means that we as an industry need to have a messaging hub (a common mail system if you were). There can only be one and it has to be reliable, independent of any mover or software vendor and run by a trusted body. In practical terms it means that IAM should pick an independent software vendor to build and operate it.
There appears to be a very clear path for making this development pay for itself - any party that receives data from the message hub will pay to do so as the data recipient stands to save a lot of time by avoiding data re-entry. The savings go far beyond data entry though: a properly designed ‘publish and subscribe’ messaging hub means that the systems consuming it can post and receive data when they can (as opposed to a peer to peer mechanism that implies that all systems need to be up at all times or implement a rather costly queueing mechanism).
There was an interesting discussion at the Chicago meeting about the scope of the data that such a messaging hub would allow to exchange and how this data would be managed. Some great ideas were brought up and some big words were used. However, one should take a phased approach and clearly understand that if we take on too much and try to come up with a universal message structure encompassing all imaginable mobility job transactions and use a full blown blockchain mechanism to save and verify transactions, nothing will happen.
A messaging hub is something that will evolve over time and will allow for more and more information to be exchanged, but for now what hurts the entire industry is the lack of a standard way to exchange basic, mundane shipment information going from a simple mover to a move management company, then to a booker and finally back to a corporate client. Some of these major clients were present at the meeting and voiced their wishes and concerns very openly. They are already worried about the very idea of data storage and data visibility. That should be enough to help IAM be pragmatic and set up something that addresses the most pressing needs.
Photo: Max Kreynin from Voxme Software Inc