Eric Johnson, Senior Technology Editor | Mar 14, 2022 8:00AM EDT
Prompt founder Robert Petti previously led a business intelligence initiative at Toll Global Forwarding before working to ease access to such tools for smaller forwarders.
A data entry and integration automation software vendor that has been quietly working with a range of the biggest global forwarders said Monday it is extending the range of logistics solutions into which it integrates.
New York-based Prompt essentially provides a workflow layer on top of widely used logistics systems for forwarders and logistics operators, with a customer list that includes DSV, Toll Global Forwarding, CEVA Logistics, and Crowley Maritime. The company has largely operated in stealth since its founding in 2020.
The company started by providing that layer specifically for users of WiseTech Global’s CargoWise system, a transportation management and operations system with more than 18,000 global customers, including 42 of the top 50 global third-party logistics providers (3PLs). But Prompt is expanding its integrations to other commonly used forwarder platforms, including BluJay Solutions (now a part of E2open), Magaya, and SAP.
Its product suite primarily addresses data capture, freight audit and pay, customer visibility, management analytics, rate management, and payment processing, founder Robert Petti told JOC.com. Petti added that the software is aimed at expanding the functionality of a transportation management system (TMS) without changing or replacing any of a forwarder’s existing software.
Interest in the product has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic as forwarders wrestle with increased cargo volume and revenue growth during a time when labor to support that growth is hard to find, he said.
Petti set out to build Prompt based initially on his experience building business intelligence (BI) capability at Toll nearly a decade ago. In 2015, he founded a company called Lading to create a BI layer to run on forwarding systems.
“To me, it was silly that only big companies with six- and seven-figure budgets had good BI reporting,” Petti said.
He set out to build a software-as-a-service (SaaS) layer for BI, but admitted his idea was “way too early” and instead became a platinum CargoWise Service Partner, a designation that alludes to its preferred status to help with forwarding solutions, integrations, workflow, and accounting. That arrangement ended in 2020, which enabled Petti to start Prompt and work with other systems.
“We wanted the optionality we didn’t have with exclusive arrangement,” he said. “A lot of companies use CargoWise for customs and Magaya for warehousing, as an example. Why not allow them to operate out of an aggregated layer? That’s a big goal.”
Addressing forwarder TMS gaps
Aside from the broader ambition of helping forwarders to stitch together products from multiple systems, Prompt is focused on better use of single systems, too. “All the [forwarder] TMSs are good, but they all have gaps,” Petti said.
“We used to waste so much time manually entering data from documents into our TMS,” Spencer Hutchins, vice president of freight forwarding operations at Vantec Hitachi Transport Systems, said in a statement from Prompt. “A complex 200-page commercial invoice used to take one person five business days to capture into CargoWise. Now it takes 20 minutes.”
Prompt also helps forwarders manage the merging of systems and databases as a result of acquisitions.
“We needed a way to transfer data to CargoWise from a recent acquisition’s database, but we didn’t have time to get approval from IT for an integration build that would be scrapped after a few months anyway,” Bruno Tarikian, director of innovation services at DSV, said in the statement.
The ability tap into multiple systems through a single enterprise window and enable critical capabilities through a single provider is ultimately where Prompt sees itself achieving broader traction. “One integration to Prompt allows us to deliver a set of critical capabilities and brings information across systems together for users,” company COO Kai Timmerman told JOC.com.
“Connecting to any of the top company’s tech stack is a multi-month process,” Petti added. “Why go to only an freight audit and pay, or a rate management product, if they can get it all through one integration?”