We spoke to Jim Ward of Applied Data Consultants about advanced dispatch technology and COVID-19.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Applied Data Consultants.
Jim Ward: I founded Applied Data Consultants, Inc. (ADC) in 1996 with a partner who has since retired. I have a master’s in geography and a background in geographic information systems (GIS) and computer science. We believed we could provide better services than what existed at the time, and could do it with integrity and honesty. The company has grown to 52 since then and still operates on the principles upon which we founded it. While we began as a GIS and custom development services firm, about a decade ago, we developed what is now our flagship product, Elite EXTRA. Our solution is an advanced dispatch software that optimizes routes, provides real-time tracking and visibility, and helps our customers to deliver products and services throughout North America and globally.
How does Applied Data Consultants innovate?
Jim Ward: A passion for being the best and to win drives our entire team to innovate. We constantly look to improve our software and to be the best-in-class. We have over 40 partners and nearly 125,000 daily users in 50 vertical markets, and they have all helped drive innovation within our company.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jim Ward: Like everyone else, we took an immediate revenue hit as businesses throughout the world shut down. However, given we helped drive deliveries for essential businesses, we quickly rebounded and have since regained market share as the need to deliver products to homes and businesses has increased exponentially since the pandemic. It has also opened up new markets for us that were already on the horizon, but came onboard sooner than planned with the realization that delivering goods and products was now a necessity.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jim Ward: We were on a path of record growth in 2020, and to watch our revenue drop was extremely difficult. We are truly a family at ADC, and while we saw other businesses and competitors reduce their staff and cut salaries, we chose to hang on, retain all of our employees, and work our way out of it. While it was a scary time with an unknown future, it was not a difficult choice because we wanted to protect our “family” and preserve the culture we had worked so hard to nurture.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Applied Data Consultants in the future?
Jim Ward: I am fortunate to have an extremely supportive work family and a wife of 28 years who has been with me every step of the way. I also have three wonderful children, all of whom are involved in the business, who help me deal with the stress and the anxiety of these trying times. Our family — nuclear and work — has grown even stronger with the pandemic, and the features we developed and the processes that we have implemented are future-ready and will propel us ahead in the years to come.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jim Ward: There are many supply chain routing and tracking systems available, but very few have the advanced dispatch tools that Elite EXTRA offers. As such, while we may share similar clients, our toolsets are different. Ours is customizable and can be integrated with any point of sale (POS) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) technology, provides real-time visibility to dispatchers and clients, offers contact-free proof of deliveries, and can be used in virtually any market that delivers products, services, people, or anything else.
Your final thoughts?
Jim Ward: We are grateful to not only be surviving the pandemic but thriving despite these tumultuous times. We’re proud to have helped some local businesses deliver products for free in our community during COVID, and we’re excited about what the future holds.
We know that there are more challenges for our company, our community, our nation, and beyond, and we’re pleased to offer a software solution that is helping to move the supply chain in all of the above during these uncertain times.
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