FedEx's Top Five IT Tips for Small Businesses 'Going Global'
Coming to terms with technology is crucial if smaller businesses are to succeed abroad and compete with the multinationals.
With this in mind FedEx hosted a virtual roundtable, ‘Information Generation’, where executives Raj Subramaniam and Michael Foster, and The Boston Consulting Group’s Ralf Dreischmeier, discussed the transformative impact of IT on global commerce.
A focus in the discussion was small business and the role of IT in helping entrepreneurs to overcome challenges and build their businesses abroad, successfully.
“Information technology has been a great equalizer for businesses large and small,” Foster said. “Navigating complex customs requirements or managing global inventory is now much easier for small businesses. Information technology has greatly expanded opportunities, helping small businesses to find new markets and compete on a global scale.”
Michael Foster’s five IT tips for small businesses looking to ‘go global’:
- Automate to accelerate – Automate as many shipping processes as possible, especially cross border shipments so that you can ensure that they are accurately addressed and contain the right customs paperwork for easy clearance.
- Get clear on customs – Quickly navigate complex customs requirements and gain market entry by using automated tools, such as FedEx Ship Manager, which has built in tools to ensure your customs paperwork is transmitted directly to FedEx for rapid processing.
- Small inventory, speedy delivery – Easily integrate your shipping processes with FedEx automation platforms and global transportation network to help lower your inventory carrying costs. You can then use FedEx Desktop to monitor shipments throughout their lifecycle.
- Go local - go mobile! – Leverage growth in mobile connectivity and m-commerce to quickly launch mobile apps that are configured to meet local market expectations as you expand your business across borders.
- Smart data instead of ‘big data’ – Collecting as many data points as you can to manage and monitor your supply chain is important. But don’t just collect the data, understanding the data and using it to provide visibility of key events to business partners and customers is what’s most important.
Michael Foster is the Vice President of Information Technology for FedEx Express in Europe, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa. He is responsible for developing and managing all internal and external technology for the EMEA division.
FedEx Express is the world's largest express transportation company, providing fast and reliable delivery to more than 220 countries and territories worldwide.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”