Satya Nadella is the leader at Microsoft. I didn’t say the CEO, or the President. He is the leader. By his guidance, he is leading Microsoft into collaborations and partnerships that seemingly sit outside of what we think of as computing. In his book, Hit Refresh, Nadella wrote, “The bigger a company, the more responsibility its leader has to think about the world, its citizens, and their long-term opportunities.”
Given the changing business climate and the upheaval of the market we are living in today, our long-term opportunities are more important than ever.
On May 18, Microsoft announced that they have created a multiyear collaboration with FedEx, meant to help businesses become more efficient and deal with one of the most pressing issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic: how to manage their supply chains. This new partnership combines the global logistics network of FedEx with the power of Microsoft’s AI cloud platform. These two giants are working to create opportunities for their customers by using data and analytics to help businesses of all sizes compete in the digital arena.
“Now more than ever, organizations are counting on an efficient and capable supply chain to remain competitive and open for business,” said Satya Nadella. “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.”
The first product of the collaboration will be FedEx Surround. In a nutshell, FedEx Surround will marry data from the transportation company’s extensive logistical network with Microsoft’s Azure cloud and data analytics solutions. Surround will make it easier to ensure the timely arrival of medical equipment, industrial components, and other goods in the global supply chain.
Let’s not beat around the bush—FedEx ended their ground and air shipping contracts with Amazon last year when Amazon expanded its delivery capabilities. It was clear at that time that something needed to be done.
This partnership lines up the two corporate anchors against the growing behemoth, Amazon, which has been refining its technology as it builds out a delivery and logistics infrastructure that has transformed the market.
These plans could hit even more directly at Amazon’s core business. Microsoft and FedEx say they are “reimagining commerce experiences for businesses to offer consumers more integrated ways to shop, and faster and more efficient deliveries.”
What the Partnership Means for You
The Surround platform “super charges” tracking and routing information, adding data from a range of sensors and third-party information on weather and other environmental factors. “FedEx Surround will provide new control and insights into the global movement of goods,” Kate Johnson, president of Microsoft U.S., said in an interview. She added that “customer expectations are continuing to rise, with less tolerance for glitches of any kind.”
Microsoft and FedEx say their partnership will give businesses an “unprecedented level of control and insight into the global movement of goods.” This will allow businesses to track the movement and location of packages down to the level of ZIP codes in near real-time. The system will use data collected from FedEx scanners and IoT devices, with data analysis from Microsoft’s AI, machine learning, and business intelligence technologies.
Timing for the rollout of FedEx Surround is slated to be announced this summer.