Innovative Computing Corp. marked its 40th anniversary at its annual user's conference, recently held in Nashville. The firm's original offering of trucking software was delivered on IBM mainframe computers in what was then called a "service bureau" and issued in the era when payphones were the standard for remote communication and the basis for driver check calls.

"Innovative has seen its share of changes in technology and the industry," said Innovative president Ernie Betancourt. "Staying on the leading edge has remained a challenge that we have been proud to accept and that we look forward to meeting long into the future."

Innovative Enterprise Software began in the late 1970s with the release of the IBM System 34 "minicomputer." The release of the AS/400 (predecessor of today's IBM Power Systems) in 1988 heralded a period of intense growth for the company as truckload carriers in North America adopted the "400" as a de facto standard, noted Betancourt.

In the 1990s, Innovative tried to make the transition from a small, entrepreneurial company to become part of a large corporation, which ultimately threatened its viability, according to Betancourt. But the firm was purchased by a group of investors in the late ‘90s, and while a significant interest was held by a large manufacturing corporation, the management team began to change including Betancourt taking over as president.

Betancourt said that in 1999, Innovative "reached out to small trucking companies" when it launched its software as a service (SaaS) over the Internet with products that later became known as IES Access and Access Plus. The smaller customers "taught Innovative a lot about systems management and customer service, more than even Innovative thought possible," he noted.

In March 2001, Betancourt led a management buyout of Innovative Computing Corporation, and he said at the point, the company streamlined its focus on profitability and efficiency for its customers. Today, he pointed out, Innovative's services are used by 75% of the most profitable truckload carriers in the industry.

The company is also celebrating the 10th anniversary of its SaaS systems and the 5th anniversary of its online training program, Innovative University. What's more, plans call for a release-level upgrade to its IES and a broad-reaching release of its maintenance software FleetRx later this year.