FedEx provides near-real-time view into shipments

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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FedEx and Microsoft logos with clouds

FedEx Corp. is integrating intelligent cloud services from Microsoft into its global digital and logistics network.

Through a new multiyear collaboration, FedEx and Microsoft will release multiple joint offerings supported by the Microsoft Azure cloud computing service and Dynamics 365 ERP/CRM platform that will apply data and analytics to the shipping supply chain. FedEx Surround, the first solution resulting from this collaboration, leverages data to provide near-real-time analytics into shipment tracking.

FedEx Surround will provide near-real-time insights, such as the granular level of ZIP code, to provide transparency into the progress and movement of physical inventory. The solution can also collect multiple data points gathered through FedEx’s scanning and proprietary Internet of Things (IoT) technology and analyze them using Microsoft’s suite of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and analytics solutions. 

As a result, the companies intend to 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. 

By providing this insight, the companies hope to enable FedEx Surround users the opportunity to intervene early and act to avoid logistical slowdowns before they occur, reducing friction and costs. And with every package that ships, FedEx Surround will analyze past trends to identify future opportunities for streamlined shipping.

“FedEx has been reimagining the supply chain since our first day of operation, and we are taking it to a new level with today’s announcement,” said Frederick W. Smith, chairman and CEO, FedEx. “Together with Microsoft, we will combine the immense power of technology with the vast scale of our infrastructure to help revolutionize commerce and create a network for what’s next for our customers.”

“Now more than ever, organizations are counting on an efficient and capable supply chain to remain competitive and open for business,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, 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.”

More information regarding FedEx Surround availability will be provided beginning summer 2020, and customer access will be rolled out in the months ahead.

FedEx is attempting to offer a faster, digitally-enabled global shipping experience as part of a broader effort to respond to increasing delivery pressure from Amazon. In February 2020, the parcel shipping giant’s FedEx Logistics and FedEx Trade Networks Transport & Brokerage subsidiaries partnered with online freight marketplace to digitalize internal sales and digital customs brokerage processes.

The previous month, FedEx began offering ground delivery seven days per week for the majority of the U.S. population. And in October 2019, the company expanded its delivery of oversized e-commerce purchases to more than 80% of the contiguous U.S. population.

In addition, nearly 2 million FedEx SmartPost packages that were previously given to the U.S. Postal Service for delivery to homes every day will be increasingly integrated into FedEx ground operations. FedEx also stopped delivering Amazon packages through its ground network in August 2019.