Customising the future

Customising the future

Since 2013, Zinnovate has provided management, consultancy, and IT services with a particular focus on the global transport and logistics industry, allowing businesses to fulfil the potential of their IT portfolios. The company’s Founder, Owner, and CEO – Håkan Nilsson – has utilised his 23 years of experience as a CIO in the global forwarding industry to become a trusted strategic advisor to a number of other companies in the business. 

“Particularly I’m involved when companies are going through some sort of change,” Nilsson explains, “Or rather when the change is of such a magnitude that it’s not simply called change – it’s called transformation, and it cuts across system, processes and organisations. Many global transport and logistics companies go through changes that weren’t intended to be transformations, but it turns out to be the vehicle for changing their systems and processes for the better.”

Zinnovate has the competence to support such large transformations in a technology-focussed way, it is able to deal with infrastructure and systems applications, software elements, core structures, and more. It also concentrates intensely on integration and business intelligence, believing that even if companies are buying the best standard package available, they require a level of customisation in these two areas especially.

“Whatever the system, it’s not an island – it needs to interact with other systems either in the company’s internal landscape or externally with customers, vendors, carriers, and legal authorities. That’s where we can help with building those interfaces in the area,” Nilsson says. 

Zinnovate prides itself on its level of customisation and, as Nilsson explains, it is a vastly important fraction of the bigger picture: “Customisation is such a small part of the total application. It might amount to five percent on top of a standard system, but the value of that five percent has the potential to be quite dramatic. It needs to be structured in accordance with the needs of the customer.

“Our customers are so important to us. If you are a logistics provider and you have a system in place, that system is there to deliver value to your customers. Sizeable customers will have some pretty strong customisation requirements. So even if you have a system that is producing a lot of reports, for instance, if you don’t customise that report, the customer will be unhappy. That’s one thing we do, meaning we can help the logistics provider give a much better information service to its customer by creating that business intelligence layer.”

Zinnovate knows that customers have their own preferences and should have perfect visibility of their processes. Whether producing status event messages, freight documents, orders, or invoices, customisation is important. Nilsson says that the small but valuable degree of system customisation Zinnovate provides raises customer appreciation by 100 percent, and has led the company to achieve some very forward-thinking customers: 

“We start by giving advice,” he says. “We conduct customer meetings, they pick my brain, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for me to do the same to them. Recently I was in Amsterdam where 45 of the top IT managers from all over the world were gathered, and I was the only external guy there as a speaker. I was there to share my views on the future and for them to ask me questions, but of course I learned a lot from them too. Things like this are our biggest force for ensuring we stay ahead.

“We look at the opportunities technology provides, but if you don’t have a solid understanding of the underlying business, you’ll waste your time on technologies that are great, but not specific for your company or industry. That’s an area on which we pride ourselves. We have very good technical people who have a solid background in the transport and logistics industry, and that combination is important.”

Nilsson says that the entire reason the company began was due to his annoyance regarding the IT services available at the time. He decided that being irritated was not productive, and chose to do something about the situation. 

“If you believe you can do better, do it yourself,” he says. “Many other companies aren’t so flexible or customer-centric, but we’re able to be flexible thanks in part to our small team. We only have four members of staff and some very closely-connected subcontractors and partners. A big factor in this is building layers of partnerships in a win-win beneficial way. 

“I’ve developed a lot of contacts in 23 years, and I approached the ones I thought to be the best, which are now my partners in Zinnovate. WiseTech Global in Australia is a successful provider of software, and partnering with it allows me to tap into a big global customer base. They have an extreme focus on product development, but how could customers make use of it? That’s where we can come in and close that gap with a level of customisation and support that actually makes best use of the system from WiseTech Global.”

All of Zinnovate’s growth is thanks to its reputation. The company only accepts projects where it believes it can make an impressive difference for customers, and where it will have a successful outcome. It makes choices strategically, and expects customers to do the same. 

Zinnovate’s highly personalised brand of conducting business has allowed it to develop at an astonishing rate for its size, and Nilsson insists that his company does not simply offer IT and business transformations for the sake of throwing out an old system: “It is usually a major change from local optimisation to global optimisation,” he concludes. “We’re selling an end-to-end service so we need to address all elements of a system process, people, and organisation. The industry is slowly changing, but people are still not looking holistically at transformations. That’s where we can help.”

Raffael Dessi