What do you see as the biggest strengths of MIC for the North American region right now?
One of our biggest strengths is our team. We have a very experienced staff, most of which came out of the industry. A lot of our team members are Licensed Customs Brokers. They have real-world knowledge and experience. They’ve sat behind the desk and have performed many of the tasks our clients do. Specific to the US, our team has deep knowledge in processes like US Duty Drawback, US FTZ, IMMEX for MX and Origin Calculation under USMCA. Generally, this 35-years hands-on experience is also reflected in the design of our global customs and export control solution, which is interfacing seamlessly with governmental systems in 55 countries. All this is available on one single technology platform.
Is MIC known in the US? What will you do to increase brand awareness?
MIC was founded and is currently headquartered in Austria. So of course, it may not be a household name in the US. To help change that, we have invested in attending more conferences and events to build relationships with people working in Customs & Global Trade Management. That being said, the most efficient strategy for increasing brand awareness is still “word-of-mouth”. This is where our current customers and their satisfaction play a vital role. It can be said that Customer Focus is also our “brand awareness” strategy, and we are starting to see benefits- This in turn has led us to having to hire more people in the US and Mexico.
What excites you the most about where this company is heading?
MIC’s growth opportunity in the US. MIC has a great footprint in the European market and has turned its sights on the US. Our leadership team is dedicated to growing our US operations through product improvements, product extensions and innovation, for instance using machine learning / AI techniques for global trade management. In addition, we see lots of requests on the US market from mid-sized companies next to our enterprise clients base due to geopolitical reasons. The situation in the Ukraine and the cost pressure companies are facing to keep and even improve competitiveness. Managing Free Trade Agreements and US FTZ as well as the application of US Duty Drawback will become even more important in the future. I see MIC's role in educating and communicating how our software translates into a real, tangible benefit for customers. There’s a huge potential for us to grow in this segment, because our solutions are a modular approach, meaning we can offer single “modules”, like the classification tool, US Duty Drawback or US FTZ . This allows us to fill our clients immediate needs and with time grow to a full- fledged Global Trade Management Platform.
Coming to the topic of AI and ML within Trade Compliance, is there any product MIC is working on?
MIC recently launched a brand-new AI customs tariff classification feature, that uses trained AI models on part master data using Natural Language Processing in combination with Computer Vision to increase the automation to a very high level. For one of the largest eCommerce providers, we recently trained an AI model on 650,000 parts and 3.1 million product images for customs tariff classification. MIC's AI tool can classify a product based on a picture and a description. It’s very exciting, and I’m convinced this will change the way products are classified in the very near future. For corporations, this could be a real milestone. Classifying is very labor intense job within the customs process. Because of increased automation, AI can increase the speed at which classification is done while decreasing the rate of false classifications.
What is something you like to do outside of work that would surprise people?
I am an avid Ice Hockey fan. I especially like to watch my son’s play. My older boy doesn’t play anymore but my younger one does. He is on a travel team and my wife and I travel up and down the east coast of the US watching him play. It’s exciting!