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Microsoft and FedEx partner in a tech and logistics alliance

Microsoft and FedEx announced they will form a partnership, that the pair believe could help “transform commerce” through FedEx’s logistics network and Microsoft’s cloud.

The two said their first service, called FedEx Surround, will give real-time analytics into supply chain and delivery, so companies could potentially better ship goods.

According to the joint company statement, the collaborative data and analytics solutions will “reinvent the most critical aspects of the commerce experience and enable businesses to better compete in today’s increasingly digital landscape”.

The alliance follows Amazon’s decision to end its ground delivery contract with FedEx last year, building out its own logistics network, including acquiring its own fleet of planes.

Industry experts predict the partnership will challenge Amazon, and as as GeekWire reported, the alliance has some similarity to previous Microsoft collaborations with Walmart and Kroger, Amazon competitors which can be reluctant to rely on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for their technology infrastructure despite Amazon’s assurances.

Frederick W. Smith, FedEx CEO, said the company has been reimagining the supply chain since its first day of operation, and “we are taking it to a new level”.

“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.”

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

FedEx Surround, the first solution resulting from the FedEx and Microsoft collaboration, will provide real-time analytics into commerce supply chains and shipment tracking.

Surround will also collect undisclosed data through ‘enhanced scanning’ and FedEx’s proprietary IoT technology, analysing it all with Azure’s AI and analytics tools. Azure Cloud is the No. 2 public cloud platform behind AWS.

“This unprecedented level of data-driven insight will give FedEx Surround customers the opportunity to intervene early and act to avoid logistical slowdowns before they occur to reduce friction and costs,” the companies said in a joint statement.

“With every package that ships, FedEx Surround will analyze past trends to identify future opportunities for streamlined shipping, creating a stronger and more resilient commercial ecosystem.”

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.

The companies believe by combining the breadth and scale of the FedEx network and the Microsoft cloud, businesses will have an unprecedented level of control and insight into the global movement of goods.

FedEx and Microsoft expect to announce additional solutions as part of their collaboration in the coming months, which will leverage even more Microsoft technologies, including Dynamics 365.

According to the companies, this growing partnership includes reimagining commerce experiences for businesses to offer consumers more integrated ways to shop, and faster and more efficient deliveries.

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