Senior Director of E-Commerce, Yellow Freight System, a division of Yellow Corp.
Degree: Bachelors degree in business administration, Ottawa University Car: 2001 Dodge Durango
Stress reliever: Riding his high- performance Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle on Kansas flat, straight roads
Dan Commiato has been with Yellow Freight System — one of the countrys biggest trucking companies, with 2000 revenue of $3.6 billion — for 20 years. During that time, he has done numerous jobs, including direct sales, managing terminals and acting as a regional manager. For the past three years, he has focused exclusively on e-commerce. Now, some 42,000 customers use MyYellow.com to book and track shipments. Commiato spoke with Senior Writer Robert Bryce.
How has the Web changed the way Yellow does business?
We thought it was a new channel to give customers more information. Instead, we are finding the driving of information is just as important as moving the freight. That means giving our customers constant access to information about their shipments.
Whats been your biggest challenge so far?
Getting our leadership team on board and showing that e-commerce was critical to the company. Once we had the leadership, then we had to deal with legacy systems. We are a 75-year-old company, so we had mainframes. We had to work on migrating away from those mainframes. Then, we had to work on getting the equipment we needed for an Internet-facing business. That took awhile.
What are the biggest ongoing challenges?
One of the hardest things is alerting customers to let them know whats out there on the Web site. Then training the sales force — we have 400 salesmen — to let them know what capacities we offer. Weve started training sessions. We have 35 different areas of the country. So, in each sector, well train an individual there whos the go-to person for information about the Web site. The other challenge is trying to stay ahead of the curve in what customers are needing and looking for.
After the launch of MyYellow, calls to your customer service center actually increased. Doesnt that argue against using the Web?
No, because our business has grown. The Web site is allowing our customer service center to be more in-depth. Instead of being tied up with questions about shipment tracking and rates, they have more time to deal with important matters, like our express services and other premium services that are more profitable.
What kind of measures are you using to determine the return on investment (ROI) in your IT spending?
All of our customers get service history reports. They are printed reports that list all of the shipments each customer has made. We had been sending out 9,000 of those reports per month. Were now down to 7,000, and we plan to take it down to zero within a year. By putting those online, we save all the money we were spending on postage, paper and handling. Plus, we have lot of other applications online, including online invoicing and online proof of delivery. All that saves time and labor. Our ROI measures are very clear.