You have heard of Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana, but have you heard of Fero.Ai’s TiA?
Fero.Ai, a Dubai-headquartered startup in the freight-tech space, and the makers of advanced Ai systems for supply chain orchestration, have created the world’s first intelligent virtual assistant for the freight and logistics industry.
As we find ourselves in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the company is making products to cater to all scales of businesses across the different types of stakeholders in the ecosystem. The company has even caught the eye of Microsoft, who recently inducted them into its accelerator program for high-tech startups, known as ‘Microsoft for Startups.’
AMEinfo had the opportunity to speak with Abhinav Chaudhary, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of Fero.Ai, who shared valuable insights about his company, their new intelligent virtual assistant, and the state of the industry.
In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges and issues the freight and logistics sector in the Middle East has been facing in recent years?
A majority of the Forbes 100 manufacturing and logistics entities, strategically have a presence in the ME for their European, APAC and African distribution networks. In the last 2 decades, freight and logistics have been emphasized correctly as backbones of the global economy and are attributed for upwards of 5% of total expenses. In the majority of the cases, shippers look at their freight service providers to carry the burden of optimizing these costs, which is classically easier said than done with service providers working on wafer thin margins, generally lower than 8% on an average within the region. Cutting transportation costs has continued to be one of the greatest strategic challenges in global logistics and has been the focus for long, but there are many more to take note of with changing demands of the business landscape and customer expectations.
Within the Middle-East logistics landscape, despite numerous initiatives and provision of among best logistics infrastructure globally, the number of key parameters and decision points in an avg. freight transaction is yet extremely high, a problem made worse by massive dependence on manual processing. There are a lot of moving parts, held together by human communication and coordination, leading to time, cost, productivity, quality and accuracy issues. The pandemic also exposed the fragile nature of supply chains and its stakeholders – no business was immune to the effects of it – but the impact on freight and logistics as an industry has been profound. Business leaders have been pushed to implement solutions proactively rather than reactively.
In short, within the Middle-East environment, there is a major requirement for an increase in optimization and automation both at ‘Rate’ and at ‘Scale’ before avenues of outsourcing and off-shoring of tasks are resorted to manage costs and disruptions.
How did these challenges lead to the creation of the TiA voice assistant solution?
To tackle the challenges of ‘Errors’, ‘Low Profits’, ‘Inefficiencies’, ‘Manage evolving freight transactions’ and ‘Reduce the need of Humans to operate ERPs, the concept of TiA was born. It has been observed that human computer interaction patterns shift every decade to more sophisticated computing systems, directly proportional to the growth in the number of business parameters and data points involved in processing. Increasing needs of the operating environment coupled with an already complex industry as freight & logistics require advanced freight orchestration which is currently only possible to achieve through Ai.
The term ‘Optomation’ is the phenomenon of optimizing a process/transaction while automating it, to represent the core principle behind Fero.Ai’s products. We identified the least common denominator of existing industry concerns to be human dependence for coordination and collaboration, and developed its Ai counterpart TiA – the world’s 1st intelligent virtual assistant for freight & logistics.
TiA is an omni-present virtual freight assistant trained to handle function & role-specific tasks as part of optimized freight processes, orchestrated by Fero’Ai’s SaaS products, built and tailored for varying stakeholders in the industry.
TiA – An independent IVA which integrates with any ERP & automates it into a Ai driven smart ERP. Accessible as simply by voice, WhatsApp on your smart phones.
FAST- Uberization solution for Freight Forwarders & Carriers
TAME- End-to-End freight management ERP for Shippers
DASH- Distribution management optomation (optimization + automation) system
What has the rollout of your voice assistant solution been like so far? Any notable feedback or observations?
The logistics and freight industry is not particularly tech-friendly, with a majority of its members resisting digital transformation due to the fear of redundancy or loss of secondary opportunities with heightened visibility. The pandemic nudged this arrangement and catapulted the industry into a space where adoption of technology became imperative. This has begun a movement in the direction of accepting technology as the solution to existing concerns and viewing it as an enabler rather than a disruptor.
We hadn’t intentionally planned on rolling out mainstream ‘optomation’ systems so early on in our product go to market strategy but with increasing interest in AI powered systems for improving business performance we brought our advanced AI solutions to market much sooner.
The impact being created by TiA is classified in the following categories:
You were recently accepted into Microsoft’s accelerator program for your achievements in the AI field. How do you foresee this boosting your efforts in the region and beyond?
It’s an exciting milestone in our journey to have partnered with Microsoft through their startup program. This has opened up new avenues for us with respect to technology infrastructure advancement, scalability and new market reach.
The Microsoft startups team is a community of people who are passionate about supporting success stories in the making by providing subject matter expertise in technology, as well as access to a larger network of potential evangelists/customers/thought leaders and their sales channels.
What are your goals and objectives for the near future?
We are focusing on the ‘Ease of Adaptation’ of the technology, to provide leverage to businesses to embrace ‘Automation’ at scale. We have ramped up our R&D as well as product development huddles to advance roll out of future projects in the next 2 quarters. We are now operational in India, with expansion across MENA and EU poised for the next 4 quarters.
Our focus will also be on strategic alliances, partnerships and leveraging our network to execute tie-ups with government as well as semi-government entities and ports to develop custom solutions for optomation of the larger ecosystem.