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."

David Wagner, Executive Editor, Community & IT Life

April 29, 2015

1 Min Read
<p align="left">(Image: <a href="" target="_blank">via Wikimedia Commons</a>)</p>

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.

About the Author(s)

David Wagner

Executive Editor, Community & IT Life

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, leadership, and innovation. He has also been a freelance writer for many top consulting firms and academics in the business and technology sectors. Born in Silver Spring, Md., he grew up doodling on the back of used punch cards from the data center his father ran for over 25 years. In his spare time, he loses golf balls (and occasionally puts one in a hole), posts too often on Facebook, and teaches his two kids to take the zombie apocalypse just a little too seriously. 

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