The Innovative Computing name is inextricably linked with the trucking industry’s first commercial dispatch software systems and a legacy of transportation leadership going back more than 40 years.
Founded in 1969 by G.D. Madden, John Franklin and Bill Trousdale, software development at Innovative Computing Corporation (ICC) was originally focused on truck maintenance. In 1979, Innovative launched new software designed for truck dispatchers to improve efficiency. When interstate deregulation of the industry hit in 1980, ICC was nicely positioned to serve trucking companies that suddenly had to focus on improved trip planning, because inefficient trips and empty miles were no longer protected by regulated rates.
The software became a comprehensive business and operations management system for motor carriers, covering almost every aspect of daily activity, from on-line operations, routing and mileage to payroll, accounts payable and receivable, parts inventory, fuel taxes and contractor settlements, in addition to budgeting, driver logs, maintenance planning, customer service, freight claims and integrated voice response.
Innovative leveraged powerful IBM solutions, running an IBM 370 mainframe internally and working with System 34 and 36 (S/34, S/36) mini-computers and then the AS/400 as a mid-range business performance platform for its technology. The software dominated the trucking industry for years, serving hundreds of mostly truckload carriers, including many of the largest and most profitable trucking companies in North America.
Innovative’s swift growth caught the attention of an acquisitive Westinghouse Electric Corporation, which purchased the firm from Madden in 1990 and aligned it with its profitable Thermo King subsidiary. Unfortunately, Westinghouse experienced growing financial troubles in the early 90’s that left the Innovative group in uncertainty for years. Westinghouse eventually shed some businesses in order to acquire CBS in 1995, two years later changing its name to CBS and splitting off its struggling industrial businesses as Westinghouse Electric Company.
Ingersoll Rand purchased Thermo King in 1997 and Innovative was purchased by a group of investors also in the late 90’s. Ernie Betancourt joined Innovative as president. Betancourt later led a management buyout of Innovative Computing Corporation in 2001, along the way moving corporate headquarters from the long-time base in Oklahoma City to Nashville, Tennessee.
In 1999, the company took a page from the old IBM “service bureau” model of shared application infrastructure and launched Innovative Enterprise Software (IES) in a visionary new role—as a SaaS (software as a service) product targeting small trucking companies. The new products became known as IES Access and Access Plus—thriving platforms for small and growing carriers even today.
In 2009, TMW Systems acquired the operations of Innovative Computing Corporation from the holding company BetaZone, Inc. It maintains the Innovative solutions center in Nashville and a satellite IES development and support group at the TMW office in Oklahoma City. IBM i remains the exclusive platform for Innovative software, but the 2013 release by TMW of Innovative Web Edition—a rich graphical interface running in any web browser—expands the reach of the product to a new generation of software users. A significant number of the Transport Topics Top 100 Carriers currently run Innovative software in their operations.