Enterprise 2.0: FedEx To Deliver E-Services Beyond The Browser
FedEx business customers want the convenience of accessing online tools and services without having to exit their applications and launch a new browser window.
FedEx is planning its next generation of online services and plans to deliver a number of tools that customers can access directly from within their business applications.
"The days of Fedex.com being the be all and end all are numbered," said Rob Carter, CIO at the shipping and logistics company.
Carter, speaking Tuesday at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, said the company's business customers want the convenience of accessing online tools and services without having to exit their applications and launch a new browser window.
FedEx, Carter said, plans to deliver. "We'll expose these services," he said.
Carter pointed to FedEx's QuickShip application as an example of the work the courier is doing to make it faster and easier for customers to manage their shipments. QuickShip lets user create, track, and monitor shipments from within the Microsoft Outlook environment. It also lets them tap other FedEx E-services without "dragging them out to Fedex.com," said Carter.
Another app, called Toast, pops up directly on a user's desktop when a shipment undergoes a change in status, such as clearing customs. FedEx built Toast on the Adobe Air platform. FedEx is also rolling out print-on-demand services for its Kinko's unit and new apps for mobile devices.
Carter said those are just a few examples of how FedEx, which lays claim to having launched the world's first transactional Web site in 1994, is working to ensure that it's not left behind by the Web 2.0 world. The concern: For workers under 30, there's "a bit of invisibleness to FedEx," Carter said.
Carter wants to change that by targeting social computing networks. FedEx recently rolled out a Facebook application that lets users "launch" a virtual package -- perhaps containing photos or other digital media -- directly into a friend's page by pulling back an onscreen slingshot and letting the package fly.
Such efforts appeal not just to FedEx's customers, but to its younger employees. "We have a huge community of Facebook users," said Carter. The company also maintains 80 internal blogs authored by staffers.
Carter said Web 2.0 represents "an explosion of community" that businesses must embrace to stay competitive. "It's been brought on not by us, but by our customers," said Carter. "They're setting the pace."