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UPS Delivers On Data

At the InformationWeek Conference, Jackie Woods told the story of how UPS went down the data highway from 2003 to the present. It is a story about being "constructively dissatisfied."

Jackie Woods was asked to speak at the InformationWeek Conference (co-located with Interop) as a "Data Rock Star" and she delivered a pretty impressive set, telling the story of how UPS went down the data highway from 2003 to the present. It is a story about being "constructively dissatisfied."

Before you have a sense of the journey, you have to know where UPS was in 2003. According to Woods everything was done by hand. She painted a picture of hand-written manifests with package data and addresses scrawled by drivers and dispatchers. Drivers had to literally remember how their trucks were laid out in order to navigate them to get boxes off the truck in the right order.

They learned four lessons on the journey from hand-crafted to data-driven.

"The first thing we learned is that it had to be easy to configure," Woods said, "Push button if we could." The package center is a chaotic place and while dispatchers are highly trained, they're not data professionals. So if you were asking them to input information or react to it, it needs to be as simple as possible. "If Apple taught us anything it was user experience, user experience, user experience."

Read the other three lessons and more on our sister site, All Analytics.