Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Microsoft AI analyses FedEx IoT logistics data

Steve Rogerson
May 20, 2020

The first offering of a multiyear collaboration will collect data through the proprietary IoT technology of FedEx and analyse them using Microsoft's suite of AI, machine learning and analytics.
FedEx and Microsoft have announced the multiyear collaboration to help transform commerce by combining the global digital and logistics network of FedEx with Microsoft's intelligent cloud.
Together, FedEx and Microsoft aim to create opportunities for their customers through multiple joint offerings powered by Azure and Dynamics 365 that will use data and analytics to reinvent critical aspects of the commerce experience and enable businesses to compete better in today's increasingly digital landscape.
"FedEx has been reimagining the supply chain since our first day of operation, and we are taking it to a new level with this announcement," said Frederick Smith, chairman and CEO of FedEx. "Together with Microsoft, we will combine the immense power of technology with the vast scale of our infrastructure to help revolutionise commerce and create a network for what's next for our customers."
This strategic alliance represents a long-term commitment between the companies to fuel innovation, collaborate on product development and share subject-matter expertise.
FedEx networks link more than 99% of the world's gross domestic product across 220 countries and territories, and Microsoft Azure is trusted by more than 95% of Fortune 500 companies. By combining the FedEx network and Microsoft cloud, businesses should have more control and insight into the global movement of goods.
"Now, more than ever, organisations are counting on an efficient and capable supply chain to remain competitive and open for business," said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. "Together with FedEx, we will apply the power of Azure, Dynamics 365 and their AI capabilities to this urgent need, building new commerce experiences that transform logistics for our mutual customers around the world."
FedEx Surround, the first offering from the collaboration, allows any business to enhance visibility into its supply chain by leveraging data to provide near-real-time analytics into shipment tracking, which will drive more precise logistics and inventory management. While most carriers are reactive to global logistics dynamics with limited visibility options built into a package's journey, FedEx Surround will provide near-real-time insights down to the granular level of zip or post code, for example, to shine a digital light on the progress and movement of physical inventory.
The benefits offered by FedEx Surround will extend to any business with a supply chain and particularly those that depend on highly time-sensitive deliveries. For example, a hospital may urgently need a package to help save a life, or a part may need rapid transport to a manufacturing facility to avoid an operational shutdown. In each instance, the near-real-time data insights provided by FedEx Surround offer an advantage to not only the organisations using the platform but also the people they serve.
FedEx Surround can also collect multiple data points gathered through the enhanced scanning and proprietary IoT technology of FedEx and analyse them using Microsoft's suite of AI, machine learning and analytics. This will provide participating businesses with not only enhanced visibility of a package's location during its journey, but also knowledge of global commerce conditions and external challenges in near real time, such as severe weather or natural disasters, mechanical delays, clearance issues, and incorrect addresses.
This level of data-driven insight will give FedEx Surround users the opportunity to intervene early and act to avoid logistical slowdowns before they occur to reduce friction and costs. And with every package that ships, FedEx Surround will analyse past trends to identify future opportunities for streamlined shipping, creating a stronger and more resilient commercial ecosystem.
Information regarding FedEx Surround availability will be shared beginning this summer, and access will be rolled out in the months ahead.
FedEx and Microsoft expect to announce additional products as part of their collaboration in the coming months. These will leverage even more Microsoft technologies, including Dynamics 365. This includes reimagining commerce experiences for businesses to offer consumers more integrated ways to shop, and faster and more efficient deliveries.