Freight Logistics Company Takes IM Route

FRAMINGHAM (08/04/2000) - GoFreight.com Inc., a privately held technology company in Dallas, last week unveiled instant messaging software that it claims will change the way the transportation industry does business.

Analysts and prospective customers aren't as convinced.

GoFreight 1.0, which will become available Sept. 30 as a hosted application service, combines applications specific to the transportation industry with an instant messaging (IM) service, said company President Randy Dryburgh. He said GoFreight is in the process of lining up companies to beta-test the system.

GoFreight will enable small to medium-size (up to 500 employees) shippers, carriers and logistics providers to post and book loads faster and more economically than by conventional means, Dryburgh said. Now, most of these companies book freight by telephone, although a few have begun using online exchanges, according to Donald Broughton, a transportation analyst at A.G.

Edwards & Sons Inc. in St. Louis.

Data Delivered Fresh

GoFreight is aiming to improve upon what online exchanges have delivered. "Too often, data in transportation industry [online exchanges] is stale - it's been sitting there for a long time - and has a high percentage of invalidity,"Dryburgh said. Online exchanges such as Celarix Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., and Logistics.com in Burlington, Mass., allow companies to post loads and services to a Web site, but, Dryburgh said, "they don't allow them to communicate with each other, except by [phone], which can be a major expense."

Transportation and distribution companies have been conducting business and communicating instantaneously for some time, said Ting Piper, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass.

For example, RightFreight.com, Nistevo Corp. and GoCargo.com Inc. all provide real-time communication via e-mail or an IMservice, said Piper.

But Dryburgh contends that his company's service is different because it will deliver logistics and other information directly to its subscribers rather than posting the data to a database where customers have to retrieve it.

Mark McDowell, webmaster at Lyondell Chemical Co. in Houston, said he wasn't sure if his company would use this type of service. "I would have to look at its functionality. I think GoFreight is just trying to get on the bandwagon of the instant messaging phase," said McDowell.

Broughton said, shippers and carriers would have to conduct more business on the Web before an IM service would appeal to them. "If [companies] are still booking freight by phone, of what added value is instant messaging? None," he said.

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