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Photo of Matt ElenjickalMatt ElenjickalCEO & Founder, FourKites

If you haven’t seen the news, this week FourKites and FedEx announced a strategic alliance to solve some of the toughest supply chain problems faced by our industry. Together, we are developing powerful solutions, including advanced, dynamic shipment planning, enhanced visibility, reverse logistics, cross-border analytics, route optimization, sustainability solutions and more.

While FourKites has the honor of being category creator and the real-time transportation visibility leader, that’s not enough. We must continue to expand the current boundaries of visibility to capture data from every node, signal and checkpoint so that stakeholders can make the right decisions, quickly. This requires massive volumes of data and the tools to make sense of it.

By combining FedEx’s massive network data and insights with FourKites’ analytics and AI capabilities, we’re taking a significant step forward with a new solution called FourKites X. Our vision is to enable end-to-end supply chain orchestration and create a self healing supply chain platform.

This is a major milestone for not just FourKites and FedEx, but the industry as a whole. The reason?

Data. A lot of data.

At this point, it’s a cliche for a tech company to speak in generalities about data. But in the supply chain world, it cannot be overstated how aggregating high quality, contextual and reliable data is the biggest hurdle to innovation.

Very few companies have as robust a data warehouse as FedEx. They’ve spent years and countless hours consuming and cleaning data from 16.5 million shipments each day — things like tagging and cataloging Harmonized System Codes for cross-border shipments. Traffic patterns and returns of parcels for final mile and reverse logistics. Fleet usage to better understand fuel consumption and sustainability targets. And much, much more.

So how much data does that amount to? Petabytes. To put that in perspective, one petabyte is equivalent to 1,024 gigabytes. In terms of dollars, one petabyte would be equal to $1 quadrillion – the global economy is estimated to be worth around $85 trillion, or 8.3% of $1 quadrillion. It’s hard to even conceive of how much data that is — so can you imagine what having access to that treasure trove could unlock within the world’s most complex supply chains?

Achieving our ultimate goals – how FourKites X gets us there faster

All of this quality, contextual and usable data – data that can easily be consumed via APIs – accelerates what can be done with machine learning models and artificial intelligence. It is the rocket fuel for things like FourKites’ patented Dynamic ETAs. And most importantly, it will provide tremendous benefits to customers.

Imagine being able to:

  • Dynamically plan across modes on a pre-shipment basis. How would your business benefit if you could leverage global shipping intelligence and actionable insights to streamline documentation, inform inventory planning and fulfillment, optimize routes and shipment methods, and communicate service levels that delight end customers?
  • Enhance your real-time visibility with data coming from a network of 18 million daily shipments and 300+ scans collected for every shipment. Customers can gain more insight into their supply chain by understanding what’s happening upstream with inbound suppliers, manufacturers and downstream through the final mile.
  • Predict disruptions and know the corrective course to take even before your supply chain has been impacted. Major supply chain disruptions are usually a domino effect – a hurricane here, a supply shortage there, mounting port congestion, and so on. The challenge in predicting these disruptions, let alone quickly mitigating them, is not having the complete picture. FourKites X, with its highly accurate forecasting capabilities, will paint that full picture.
  • Optimize your supply chain, end to end. By being better at pre-planning and pre-shipment, having enhanced visibility along the way, and being able to predict potential disruptions, shippers can truly benefit from a nimble, self-healing supply chain. The result is reducing costs, achieving sustainability targets and delighting your employees, partners and customers at every step.

We will continue to iron out the details of FourKites X in the coming weeks and months — co-innovating with our joint customers as we always have. Stay tuned for the product launch and more information about availability.

The next phase

As part of the launch of FourKites X, FedEx has made a strategic investment in our company. This is not a typical round of funding; rather, this is a highly targeted investment from an industry leader who shares our vision for highly orchestrated, self-healing, sustainable supply chains. Similar to our other strategic partners — Qualcomm Ventures, Zebra Technologies — we will be leveraging this investment and our new collaboration to actualize our shared vision to drive customer value and make the world’s supply chains more resilient. I am humbled by and appreciative of FedEx’s belief in FourKites, and so looking forward to achieving our mutual goals.

In the short term, we are working together to deliver new FourKites X capabilities in a modular way with support from a dedicated team of data engineers, data scientists, and user experience experts. Through these solutions, we will deliver comprehensive supply chain intelligence — providing prescriptive analytics that can optimize supply chains, unlocking meaningful efficiency by lowering costs, driving higher service levels, improving communication and creating greater network transparency.

With a clear roadmap in hand, our shared vision for total end-to-end supply chain orchestration is the final destination. Our current and future customers will be our navigators. And petabytes of quality data will be our fuel.

Onward!

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