You may not think of butter as a technological leader. But Atlas® Van Lines Vice President and Chief Information Officer David Smith does. After all, it was the dairy product that sparked inspiration for the Atlas® Digital Ecosystem (DE).
After joining Atlas®, Smith attended a Gartner® conference session where Land O’Lakes® was heralded as being a leader in digital ecosystems due to their adoption and use of external software solutions to serve their extensive collective of farmers. Smith thought, “With Atlas being a co-op of Agents, this is exactly what we’re trying to do and what we’ve been working to build.”
“It’s always dangerous when CIOs go to conferences,” jokes Ryan Parmenter, Senior Director of Enterprise Architecture at Atlas Van Lines. “You never know what ideas they’ll come back with!”
But Parmenter was excited for the opportunity to develop a DE that could integrate, refine, and modernize the software used across Atlas. “I’m very focused on the adoption of new software,” he says. “To see what our inventory is, how it all works together in support of our teams, vetting new technologies to make sure they are efficient and will integrate into our overall architecture, and then planning and developing a vision for what the future looks like is something my team and are very passionate about.”
Both Smith and Parmenter agree that Agent input is welcomed in pitching which solutions could be incorporated into the DE, noting that one of the anchors is Yembo, an AI-powered virtual survey software for the moving industry. “Some of the Agents were already working with Yembo and having great experiences with it, so that’s how we learned about it and how it became part of the DE,” says Parmenter.
Other solutions under consideration for the DE are MoversSuite from EWS Group, IBS Software from Direct Systems, and CrewPro from Move4U, to name a few. Parmenter and his team are currently working closely together with the Technology Strategic Planning Assessment Committee to determine how new partners will be drawn into the DE and governance surrounding those partners. When considering new software, Smith encourages Agents and leadership to focus on overall business capabilities rather than hyper-specific functions.
“We want people to be excited about new solutions and capabilities, but to think big picture about how they fit within the architecture Ryan is building and how they serve a greater purpose and solve problems our current solutions don’t. Ask yourself how this impacts your business and your customer. Those are the main priorities when deciding where to make investments,” says Smith.
The DE should be very attractive to existing and future Agents because it allows the Agent to drive their business the way they want, with plenty of options that boast clear and fair pricing negotiated by Atlas. The goal of this new model is not to dictate—but to enable and truly maximize Agent prosperity.
“Agent prosperity and their autonomy to make decisions run together,” says Parmenter. “The DE supports that because it allows them to have options and decide what works best for their unique business goals. We’re partnering with state-of-the-art tech companies who are continually innovating, and this gives our Agents access to some of the best moving tools in the world.”