Meet Nicole Backmeyer, NRI’s Software Product Manager who discusses how technology drives operations and shapes our future.
- Can you tell us about Aspire and why we use it?
Aspire, our proprietary in-house grown software, is part of the backbone of NRI. Aspire is the powerhouse that runs everything in the NRI ecosystem! From all fulfillment components to company function and scheduling, through to integration management of on-floor tech and client data flows, Aspire is behind it all. It’s a robust system with a variety of capabilities that allow for tweaking and tailoring to a variety of client needs.
- What sets NRI’s approach to technology apart from other 3PLs in the industry?
NRI has decades of experience working with small to large-scale companies – and that means a variety of different requirements. Aspire is built knowing that these unique circumstances need to be maintained and supported without endangering core product design. While many industry products cannot support unique client edge cases, we at NRI see these unique needs and work toward building in customization that is functional, but not overly demanding to the software. It requires a balance and an understanding of software design as well as the supply chain industry, and really listening to what needs are to resolve root causes.
Along with the use of Aspire, we connect to a variety of other technical products for ease and efficiency – like robotics! Having a strong understanding of our software, as well as industry knowledge, allows us to build connectors that are effective and accurate to seamlessly integrate with up-and-coming tech stacks.
- How does NRI ensure data security and privacy in its IT solutions?
Security and regulatory incorporation should always be at the forefront of proper design practices in software development. We have multiple layers of protective technology built into our architecture stack, proactive monitoring, yearly external penetrative test evaluations, and robust permission strategies in our software stack. We are also looking at incorporating single sign-on (SSO) into our new product line, so keep an eye out!
- What role does innovation play in NRI’s technology, and how do you foster a culture of continuous improvement?
Innovation plays an extensive role! Both the supply chain and software industries are ever evolving so keeping up with new advancements is a necessity. We recently completed a large-scale change to our architecture stack which poises us to integrate with some incredible technologies in the new year, including opening new doors for AI-based automation in our system. This past year we connected with technology that allowed us to spin up a second type of robotics, and we’re actively working on building our new web-based tech platform.
- Can you share some examples of successful IT projects or solutions that NRI has implemented and the impact they’ve had on the company or its clients?
Where do I begin! Fulfillment was done with pen and paper on floor, until 2008 when Aspire was first launched. Since 2008, Aspire has grown immensely with unique components like rate shopping logic for lower freight costs, automatic pick delegation for on-floor efficiency, slot allocation for predictive replenishment, and integration with a multitude of ERPs to fit client needs. In the three years I have been here, we’ve launched containerization (a predictive shipment tool for up-front shipping and optimized packaging), multiple robotics, new mobile applications, and moved to a new cloud-based architecture. We’re only touching the surface of changes on the horizon!