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FedEx CIO Rob Carter Shares His Experience, and IT Outlook

In his upcoming Interop Digital keynote address, Fedex's Rob Carter will be discussing how the logistics giant has evolved its IT strategy and where technology goes from here.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on our sister site, InformationWeek.

When you see a white truck with a giant, two-tone “FedEx” plastered on all sides you probably think of a package delivery company. Maybe you think, “Here comes another batch of dog food,” or you reflect on Tom Hanks and his friend Wilson the fuzzy volleyball.

However, for FedEx CIO Rob Carter that truck represents a logistics information company, in a way, a modern tech company.

Carter -- who is arguably the best known and most honored CIO in the US today – adopts the saying of his boss, FedEx founder and CEO Fred Smith, in noting that “the information about the package is as important as the package itself”. The information ranges from who sent the package and where it’s going, where it is in transit, how big or heavy it is, it’s priority, and how it should be handled. As we advance new technologies like robotics and blockchain, that information is expected to include such information as whether the package can be delivered by robot and whether the product inside comes from a sustainable source.

Carter, with 35 years of IT experience behind him, will share his views on technology, his experiences with FedEx, and his vision for IT’s future when he keynotes Interop Digital, October 5-8. Interop is the independent and unbiased event for IT pros, this time being offered as an online conference.

Carter, CIO since 2000, is someone that IT pros, and their partners in business leadership, need to heed. He arguably is the best known and most honored CIO in the US today. When he joined FedEx in 1993 mainframes still represented the backbone of enterprise IT. Today, FedEx is well into a 10-year “renewal” program intended to modernize the IT infrastructure and the business.
That program launched with “a clear mental model and architecture for what we wanted to become,” he said in a recent discussion. “It started when we really began to build out our core services and microservices that represent the less complex, more flexible, more capable, faster-to-market capabilities that we have today.”

For FedEx, renewal means relying on cloud services rather than on-premise data centers, leveraging new technologies such as those robots, a massive network connecting sensors that are pretty much everywhere, and a culture that says IT and the business are equal partners in driving the company forward.

A few other topics that Carter will touch on:

  • How FedEx kept things rolling in the face of COVID-19 when more than 100,000 desk workers became remote workers in just two days
  • How several times that many front-line employees who couldn’t work from home – think people such as delivery drivers and package handlers -- kept going while “in harm’s way” every day
  • Those technologies that are helping the company today, or will deliver benefits in the future
  • The role of culture in an IT group’s success.

Other keynote speakers scheduled for Interop include Alysa Taylor, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Business Applications & Global Industry Marketing, and Greg Lavender, VMware Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.

Learn more about the Interop Digital agenda and register for the event today.

Jim Connolly is a versatile and experienced technology journalist who has reported on IT trends for more than two decades. As editorial director of InformationWeek and Network Computing, he oversees the day-to-day planning and editing on the site. Most recently he was editor ... View Full Bio

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