A column in August discussed the new strategy of XRS Corp., which produces software to optimize truck fleet operations. The news was the shift away from any sort of XRS hardware, as XRS sought to become a software-as-a-service provider that ran its applications on consumer devices like an Android phone.
XRS management thought that the value was now almost exclusively in software and that its hardware was not worth updating. And besides, all the truckers carry a phone or tablet anyway.
In Minnetonka there is a head-to-head competitor called PeopleNet Communications, a unit of Trimble Navigation. PeopleNet was a long-time portfolio holding of Norwest Equity Partners, so it isn’t as well known locally as publicly traded XRS. And what’s interesting is that PeopleNet has a strategy that is 180 degrees from that of XRS.
Far from getting out of hardware, PeopleNet just last month announced a new device offering, ruggedized handhelds made by Intermec, a large producer of products such as bar-code scanners used in many different industries.
PeopleNet president Brian McLaughlin has a simple explanation for this strategy: “For our customers, you get one neck to grab.”
Handheld freeze? Call PeopleNet. Network down? Call PeopleNet.
"This is mission-critical stuff,” he said. “Support is just so critical to our customers.”