Encountering supply chain issues is unavoidable, whether you simply want to eat some chicken wings or find yourself waiting months for the delivery of furniture. Nike, too, has seen delays for some of its higher profile sneaker releases — but a new technology center in Atlanta will seek to strengthen the sportswear giant’s infrastructure.
Today, Nike announces it’ll open up the new office next year in Atlanta’s West Midtown neighborhood. The tech center will focus on three specific areas, or what Nike is calling “Centers of Excellence,” which includes logistics and supply chain, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence/machine learning. Specific areas of interest for AI and machine learning are in better understanding customer preferences, anticipating unmet needs, and powering new products and experiences.
Leading the Atlanta offices will be Dr. Mona-Lisa Pinkney, a senior technology leader for Nike’s Corporate Information Security division. Pinkney co-founded the company’s Black Employees in Technology Network, one of several employee-formed and -managed communities within Nike.
“This next chapter in my career at Nike feels like coming home, by being able to return to the South, and not too far from my home state of North Carolina,” Pinkney said in a release. “I'm excited to lead the Nike Atlanta Technology Center, where we'll work on cutting-edge technology and innovation initiatives that move the world forward through sport.”
It’s all about digital — The new Atlanta tech center will help Nike in its well-documented emphasis of digital and direct-to-consumer sales. Nike now expects 50 percent of its overall sales to come from e-commerce, which is well ahead of its goal of reaching 30 percent by 2023. According to the company’s most recent earnings report, direct sales reached $4.6 billion for the first three-quarters of the year — driven by a 22 percent increase in digital business and 14 percent in Nike’s physical stores.
In January, Nike announced it would expand its distribution centers in the U.S. and abroad in an effort to address issues in the supply chain. The company’s primary American hub had been in Memphis, but distribution is now more regionalized with service centers in Los Angeles; Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; and Dallas. Within these warehouses, collaborative robots (or “cobots”) are helping to make shipping faster by sorting, packing, and moving products — which frees up human employees to focus on other tasks.
Beyond focusing on logistics and AI/machine learning, the new Atlanta office will also establish a Cybersecurity Center Command Center for the East Coast. Employees for the tech center will work remotely until it opens in early 2023