February 16, 2024

In age of AI, data connectivity is more important than ever


As a whole, the logistics industry has fully embraced the power of data. Most companies have developed a means of capturing relevant data in the course of their day-to-day operations. Many of those companies have not, however, funneled all that accumulated data into a single system of record (SoR). 

When data is relegated to silos, its use cases are limited. By contrast, when a holistic and well-functioning SoR is in place, data becomes more dynamic and actionable.

Samsara is working to create an SoR specific to physical operations, helping users conceptualize variables like fuel consumption and asset location. The company sees this tool as a fundamental stairstep in the quest for a more connected — and more automated — supply chain. 

FreightWaves spoke to Sean McGee, vice president of product, platform and infrastructure at Samsara, about the company’s offerings. 

FREIGHTWAVES: Samsara is creating the system of record (SoR) for physical operations. What does it mean to be an SoR?

 MCGEE: A system of record is a single place where all the data from your operations lives. It’s a concept that’s well known in the IT world because of players like Salesforce, ServiceNow and Workday. What we’re doing at Samsara is creating a system of record for physical operations. Given the scale and complexity of these environments, there’s a clear need for a singular system that can connect and make sense of data at a large scale. That’s what we’re doing at Samsara. We help our customers aggregate, analyze and act on data across multiple locations and asset types. For instance, understanding how fuel usage fluctuates depending on time of day or idling. Or knowing, in real time, where every vehicle and asset is on the road.

We also help organizations connect Samsara data to other business applications and workflows. It’s common for our customers to save thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars from the insights they uncover. What I find exciting is we’re helping these organizations break down internal data silos so they can unlock new opportunities and improve their bottom line.

FREIGHTWAVES: How is the current macroeconomic environment (doing more with less) accelerating the demand for an SoR?

 MCGEE: ROI has always been part of the picture for customers in operations. They only invest in technology when it’s a clear win. So, high level, I would say our customers have always been focused on doing more with less, and technology is an enabler for that. If you can find a way to save yourself 10% of time by eliminating paperwork, moving to digital workflows, apps, it’s like being able to hire 10% more people. That’s business-moving ROI.

That said, driving better business outcomes is challenging when your data lives in separate, third-party platforms that aren’t able to work together. That’s where the need for a system of record comes in. 

FREIGHTWAVES: What is Samsara currently doing to create a robust platform/open ecosystem?

 MCGEE: We have an entire team dedicated to building and strengthening our platform and ecosystem. We look at it from the lens of: What integrations and partnerships will provide the most value to our customers? Often we turn to our customers for those insights and follow their lead. Many of our initial integrations came from these conversations, and we now have over 260 integration partners on the platform — from insurance providers like Nationwide, to OEMs like Ford, and a wide variety of others like Navistar, Thermo King and RUBICON SmartCity.

In addition to creating these ready-made integrations for our customers, we also focus on making it easy for developers to build net new or custom integrations on our platform. Many of our larger customers have developers in-house and have custom tools that are bespoke to their needs. Samsara’s open ecosystem makes it possible for them to build integrations directly into our platform. Last year our largest customers used six or more API integrations on average, and we expect that to keep growing over time.

FREIGHTWAVES: What benefits are Samara customers seeing from this effort?

 MCGEE: The biggest benefit is a better bottom line. Samsara’s technology provides clear and fast ROI that the C-suite sees within just a couple quarters. When you can show benefit in hard numbers, you’re no longer having a conversation about the cost of a technology but instead the cost savings that comes from it.

For example, we have an LTL carrier in Illinois who saved $500,000 in eight months on fuel reduction. We work with a national infrastructure company who saved $11 million with equipment tracking and asset optimization. And an energy company in Colorado who saved millions by building an integration with their tax provider using our open API.

Our CEO calls it “ROI you don’t have to squint to see” and I love that. Our customers work in cost-intensive industries. Our technology helps them save money, improve safety, retain drivers and reduce emissions. That’s real-world impact that shows up on the balance sheet.

FREIGHTWAVES: Is there anything else you would like to add?

 MCGEE: Everyone right now is talking about AI, what’s possible now and what might be possible in the future. The first step every organization needs to take to set itself up for success is to make sure their systems are connected and talking to one another. Organizations in physical operations have a complicated and data-rich set of variables compared to other industries. Imagine the possibilities that can come just by connecting that data and analyzing it at scale. In the past year alone Samsara processed over 6 trillion data points and 55 billion API calls. We helped prevent over 200,000 crashes and digitized over 220 million workflows. That’s a massive amount of data that led to real-world impact. And advancements in AI are only going to accelerate this further. It’s the organizations who invest in data now who are going to win in the future. That’s a pretty exciting place to be.Learn more about Samsara here.


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