CEO Head of Tech and Digital Promotion at NNR Global Logistics (USA)
Mac Sullivan is Head of Technology and Digital Promotion at NNR Global logistics (USA).
While teaching Business English to MBA students in Shanghai, he met his present boss Jeff McDonald, who introduced him to the world of international logistics. “I hit the ground running, with zero background in international business and started learning how to move freight around the world,” says Sullivan – and he has come a long way since.
The issue of technological disruption for supply chain and logistics is one that he has been turning over in his mind for a long time now.
On the dire state of the outmoded logistics industry as a whole, he says: “Imagine I have cargo that I need to send from Dallas to London. In order to figure out all the different ways that I can get it there, all of the relevant contracts as well as all the potentially different routes have to be centralised to a specific location. What we've found is that logistics as a whole has been way, way behind in its modus operandi. A great many logistics companies have, up until now, been working with paper-based (literally ‘written-down’) information. This goes all the way through from the tracking of orders to the recording of sales receipts and information,” he says.
Intuiting that digitisation is absolutely key to the industry, Sullivan has been working on NNR’s digital transformation, propelling it beyond many of its competitors.
“Many years ago, I began looking at logistics and the lack of technological adoption in this industry in the broadest sense. I started reading a lot on the subject, doing some of my Master's level work on this topic, and then started my PhD work again (which was then on hold) about how technology could disrupt the entire international logistics industry. That was in 2016. So then, with this insight, I aimed to get out of the commercial world of logistics and into the technology side of things,” he says.
Now Head of Technology and Digital Promotion at NNR, Sullivan’s role involves running a now 41 headcount team that is broken up into four sub-teams. “Firstly, we have EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and API teams, together making up 'connectivity', which deals with connecting with our vendors, customers, and agents. Secondly, we have a product development and maintenance team for our homegrown global ERP. Third, we have two smaller programmes, one called NNR Connect, which is our new showcase product, and then a homegrown CRM system. We then have traditional IT, hardware, networking, cybersecurity, etc that falls into another (fourth) bucket.”
Of these, NNR Connect deserves a place in the spotlight. NNR Connect is a customer-facing portal that uses AI and cloud tech where customers can easily book, pay for, and track in real-time, all their orders through a truly frictionless, intuitive interface. This is where tech and data intersect to fulfill NNR Global’s vision of a streamlined and customer-focused logistics experience.
NNR’s corporate slogan is 'connecting your dreams', which means providing comfort, confidence, and enjoyment for their customers. “And that means that your cargo is getting to the right place, at the right time and at the right cost,” says Sullivan.
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With price increases continuing across the globe, we need to be vigilant and dynamic when anticipating outcomes which yield to calculation and therefore prediction.