How FedEx Dataworks uses analytics and AI to strengthen supply chains

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A shock absorber that every business needs today is to get new insights hidden in real-time supply chain data. Companies can leverage this information to make their supply chains more resilient. And the more resilient the supply chain, the greater a company’s ability to absorb unpredictable disruptions.

FedEx is on a mission to help customers weather supply chain and market shocks using data-driven insights derived from analytics, AI and machine learning. FedEx also views data as the core of its business and the basis of its competitive strength in the highly competitive global logistics, supply chain and shipping services industries.

Robust data analytics drives innovation

“It was Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, who said 45 years ago that the information on the package is just as important as the package itself. And, you know, it’s taken time for the industry to catch up to that vision and reflect it in its tools and technology, but it’s always been part of the FedEx culture,” said Clayton Clouse, chief information officer data at FedEx Dataworks, told the audience during a VB Transform Fireside Chat titled “Analytics in the modern supply chain: Data-driven success.” GamesBeat Editor Dean Takahashi moderated the session.

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FedEx collects data on its 18 million daily shipments to 220 countries and uses that data to power various analytics, predictive modeling, and initiatives based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. What differentiates the company’s digital transformation initiatives is the way they take into account all aspects of a package’s transit movements, including information about the environment the package is passing through, the weather and other external factors, and use this data to create new customer-oriented solutions. that provide immediate value.

“As we create more and more full lifecycle data and more granular and richer insights, we have found that many companies are struggling to understand how to harness all of this information and turn it into value. “, Clouse told the audience.

How the FedEx Dataworks Platform Drives Digital Transformation

The FedEx Dataworks project began to materialize as COVID-19 strained supply chains globally. Clouse explained that the small group of individuals who came together in early 2020 grew into an organization with hundreds of members.

FedEx Dataworks combines the company’s digital and physical networks to create a scalable platform of interconnected data, information and information. It is designed to improve supply chain visibility and increase predictability by capturing real-time data on every package, shipment, delivery route, environmental conditions, customer delivery location, and delivery date.

“To be successful, we knew we had to create a next-generation data platform, one free from operational silos, and one where data, models, and digital capabilities could be reused over and over again, in new ways. multiple use cases. And that’s precisely what we did,” Clouse told the audience.

Clouse explained that the Dataworks team needed to create a centralized data platform to integrate all available data sources within FedEx’s global network. “The digital platform [Dataworks] is a centralized hub providing connective tissue. We bring data and information from all our operations from all over the global network. And bringing it all together enables seamless data exchange, encourages cross-functional collaboration, and provides the connectivity needed to ensure we can deliver these solutions to our customers.

Clouse and his team at FedEx Dataworks have excelled in creating a next-generation data platform that drives transformational change in supply chains, logistics and operations. They do this by extending the platform to more use cases, extending its core capabilities while strengthening new features, and adapting and remaining flexible in response to rapidly changing market demands and customer expectations. fast-moving customers.

THE The Dataworks platform keeps its promises during COVID

One of the best examples of how Dataworks’ platform adds value for customers is the Fingerprint Package. The Fingerprint solution was created as a core feature of a customer-facing solution called Surround, which was designed to provide predictive analytics and real-time insights to customers about network, package, and environment in order to mitigate risk throughout the package lifecycle.

Clouse explained that Package Fingerprint provides long histories of parcel transit movements through the network to help identify the differences between parcels that were on time and those that were late. This level of visibility tells FedEx precisely when and where a package has begun to deviate from its intended or intended path.

This was crucial in providing life-saving COVID-19 vaccines. “The arrival of vaccines on the FedEx network meant a fivefold increase in packages that required priority monitoring by our service agents. So if you think back to the COVID job market, increasing the size of our service agent team by five was not an option; we didn’t have that capability. So FedEx Dataworks was called in,” Clouse explained.

Dataworks built a vaccine surveillance and response tool in a week using Package Fingerprinting. Service agents were able to use this tool to focus on fewer risky packages. This is how FedEx extends its Dataworks platform by breaking down new use cases into core capabilities.

As Dataworks gains experience in turning use cases into features, the process becomes more streamlined, which speeds time to market. Clouse explains that the goal was to “build a FedEx-wide tool that we knew would enable accurate decision-making and increase productivity in a way that those service agents would be able to ensure that all of these packages get where they were supposed to get on time, and I’m proud to say that our service levels for vaccine shipments were near perfect, over 99%,” Clouse said.

Clouse provided a second example. A client was interested in carbon footprint management. FedEx has used its ability to identify different transit modes for packages sent from one location to another to create a tool for customers to manage their carbon footprint while receiving their packages on time. Last month, this FedEx Dataworks tool, FedEx® Sustainability Insights for tracking customer emissions, was launched. It allows customers to track their carbon emissions, understand their carbon footprint and make better shipping choices.

FedEx Sustainability Insights for Customer Emissions
Earlier this year, FedEx launched Sustainability Insights for Customer Emissions Tracking, a new machine learning-based solution that uses predictive APIs to enable customers to more effectively manage their supply chains, improve operational compliance and integrate emissions estimates into their shopping carts for their customers. . Source: FedEx launches FedEx® Sustainability Insights for tracking customer emissions, May 24, 2023

FedEx Digital Transformation Lessons

After the Fireside Chat, Clouse shared lessons learned from FedEx’s digital transformation success, as evidenced by Dataworks’ continued growth and the platform approach the organization has taken to successfully launch digital services for FedEx customers.

He advocates the following six areas as critical to any successful digital transformation effort:

  • Embrace change: Creating a culture of experimentation and failure is crucial. Encourage employees to think outside the box, challenge the status quo, take calculated risks, learn from their mistakes, and move from perfection to continuous improvement.
  • Take a customer-centric perspective: Understand your customers’ needs and build tools and technologies to deliver highly customized solutions that meet those needs. As customer needs change, be nimble and adaptable.
  • Flatten hierarchies: Empower cross-functional teams to make data-driven decisions. Ensure that data-driven decision making happens at all levels of an organization.
  • Create a continuous learning environment: Train your staff on the latest tools and technologies, then empower them to use those tools.
  • Have strong leadership: Leaders must be willing to put their necks on the line, embrace change, encourage their teams to make mistakes and learn from those experiences, and work in an environment of continuous improvement.
  • Always strive to improve durability: See reporting and compliance requirements as a catalyst for innovation and see how customers can get the most out of captured data.

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