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Five Companies to Watch in Logistics Transformation

There is an unprecedented amount of digital innovation buzz in the freight logistics industry right now. I recently participated in a Journal of Commerce webinar to discuss what's driving this change.

So many initiatives have popped up across the globe. The big consulting firms are writing points-of-view about it and have created frameworks for adoption. Marquis brands have announced digital initiatives of their own. For example: Maersk teaming up with Plug and Play; DAMCO launching digital forwarder Twill; Maersk partnering with IBM on BlockChain; and CMA CGM investing in start-ups to shake up the industry.

Venture capitalists have taken note as well, with vast amounts of investment flowing to new digital approaches. Many of these start-ups are taking a digital-first or digital-only approach to anachronistic business models and processes. Some will thrive; most will not.  Will there be an Uber or Airbnb that shakes up the industry, delivering unique capabilities for improved customer experience, convenience, competition and capacity as slower competitors watch?

Here are five innovators to keep an eye on as they drive change into the heart of a traditionally analog industry.


The Knightscope Security Operations Center (KSOC) links to robots for security monitoring and access to real-time data 24/7 from any device. The system is focused on security now, but could easily pivot to broader inventory management applications.


ClearMetal’s Predictive Intelligence Platform analyzes solicited global trade network data and generates supply chain predictions through artificial intelligence. The company just secured another $9 million to expand its offering.


Flexe is developing a platform business model for on-demand warehousing space, analogous to standardized cloud provisioning of capacity. This type of business model has huge potential for logistics industry application.


FlexPort has secured $94 million in 3 rounds of funding since 2013. Using a digital-first approach to dramatically simplify the arcane tasks of global sourcing with easy-to-use dashboards, shipment tracking and order management capabilities, augmented by experts in global shipping and trade, this company is shaking the foundation of the 3PL sector.


Traxens is tackling a long-standing challenge to use location-based technology solutions to track freight using container devices. Tracking containers in this way obviates the need for brokering data from silo-oriented marine terminals, truckers, vendors and distribution facilities.

Using different technology approaches and different business models, each of these five has the opportunity to drive change… and profit… for logistics.

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