FedEx CTO Lays Out a Three-Part AI Plan at New York Conference

This transport giant is spreading its responsibilities around the company – and with its partners, too.

The AI Summit is percolating this week in New York City, with some of the business sector’s leading lights weighing in on all things artificial intelligence and what it means for the corporate sector.

Take FedEx chief technology officer Adam Smith who certainly knows his way around the technology sector – he’s served in information technology roles at FedEx for 22 years.

At the summit, Smith said FedEx is always on the lookout for ways the company can plug into artificial intelligence to improve the customer experience, cut costs, and improve productivity. So far, the package delivery giant is steering AI investments in the supply chain and autonomous vehicles, among other areas.

He told the conference crowd that FedEx is deploying a three-pronged effort to maximize its AI investments.

Plan #1

“We’re leaning into (applied technology) partners as they advance those platforms with internal generative AI capabilities,” Smith noted. “How do we tap into that to drive value for our business?”

Plan #2

Additionally, FedEx plans on capitalizing on generative AI to boost productivity that meets the company’s own unique core operational needs.

“We’re generally a building company when it comes to the core of what we do,” he said. “You can’t buy – at the size and scale on which we operate − off the shelf.”

Better data management is at the center of that strategy.

“What we’re thinking about is how do we leverage generative AI and some of those core processes, lean into some of the large language models, optimizing to get more efficiency out of the processes we have to drive greater business value for both operations and our customers,” Smith added.

Plan #3

Lastly, Smith said FedEx is committed to helping its software developers do their jobs more efficiently and more effectively.

“(That means) not just the coding developer, but a lot of the different disciplines,” he noted. “So how do we drive greater consistency and efficiency in what the developers are doing, leaning into some of the capabilities recently in the market from a generative AI point of view?”

FedEx has been actively building nimble and ultra-focused “AI squads” inside the company to maximize its AI experience.

“If leaders don’t have small teams working in the generative AI space right now, with very focused outcomes, they are behind,” he told the audience.

For example, one Fed Ex team project is testing out autonomous trucks in Texas to relieve pressures on its company drivers, especially on longer drives. The trucks have a human passenger on board for safety but AI applications are operating the trucks.

“They’re running the routes and we have tested thousands of miles between cities in Texas with zero … safety issues,” Smith said. “We’re seeing a contraction in the workforce for those long-haul runs, and so we know that we’re going to need to find alternative ways to run with trailers between cities in the future.”

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