The effort has been a success. By analyzing a continuous stream of sensor data from its thousands of delivery trucks, the global company has eliminated 5.3 million miles from its routes, reduced engine idling time by almost 10 million minutes, saved 650,000 gallons of fuel and reduced its carbon emissions by more than 6,500 metric tons.
At the heart of these eye-popping metrics is ORION, which stands for On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation, a data-intensive system that lays out the most efficient routes for individual drivers to deliver their loads via a series of complex algorithms. Additionally, the system taps into the mountain of sensor data to predict when a truck part might fail so that preventive maintenance can be scheduled and completed.
ORION also lets UPS managers peer into the habits of individual drivers, pinpointing, for example, the number of times a driver backs up a truck or makes a U-turn. This information can be used to identify drivers who need additional training.
"We have sensors that capture information about the vehicle and the driver's behaviors. We marry that information to delivery and acquisition information, and we can get a complete picture of how a driver is completing his work, day in and day out," Perez says. "That has incredible consequences for the way we manage the business across the board."
Now, the company's appetite for data is extending outward. Its goal is to get closer -- much closer -- to its millions of customers with another analytics-intensive service called UPS My Choice, which lets people set individual preferences for how they interact with the company.
Customers using the service can, among other things, give specific instructions about how and precisely where to deliver their packages to specific addresses, reroute packages if they change locations, and sign up to receive status alerts.
"What we've done is take a new approach to managing personal supply chains. Having that level of connectivity with our customers is going to change our business now and in the years to come. The integration with consumers is what is enabling revenue growth," says Perez. In the first year UPS My Choice was available, more than 2 million customers signed up for the service, and more than 25 million packages were delivered under its auspices.
Data about customers' delivery preferences helps UPS to continue to refine its internal processes in response to those preferences "so we can build a one-to-one experience," Perez says.
But even more critical is the insight that the data provides into what new products and services to offer.
"All of the [tracking and delivery] notifications we provide and how customers respond to notifications tell us what they want so we can create the products and services they want. It's a lot of data to define new products and services."
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