The Key to Success: Analytics

6/24/2013

The combination of connected devices, M2M, and analytics can enable better business processes. This is the crux of the message UPS’ Jack Levis delivered at the Connected World Conference earlier this month. In fact, he was even as bold as to say organizations with a higher ROI (return on investment) are more likely to use analytics.

As the director of process management, Levis is tasked with determining how to best use analytics at UPS, www.ups.com. During his talk, he discussed in depth three types of analytics for businesses. Descriptive analytics uncovers what happened in the past; predictive determines what’s next; and prescriptive identifies the best a business can expect in the future.

Descriptive analytics starts with gathering data. At UPS, for example, workers use the DIAD (delivery information acquisition device), which is a handheld device UPS first introduced in 1990 to allow the drivers to collect information and make better decisions. Since that time, DIAD has evolved, with the introduction of DIAD V in 2010. Levis says UPS is currently evaluating functionality for DIAD VI. For businesses, this historical data can provide insight into how a job is being done in order to move the company forward.


Taking that one step further, predictive analytics allows companies to know what is in the pipeline. Looking at the case of UPS, workers know where every package was meant to go next, allowing the package to flow in the appropriate manner.

However, it is the future-facing prescriptive analytics that is one of the top agenda items for UPS going forward. Levis says with prescriptive analytics a business can go from wisdom to clairvoyance, making decisions before a problem is even recognized. He adds at UPS, “(the) No. 1 operation priority is moving from predictive to prescriptive to gain that clairvoyance.”

For logistics and transport firms, every second counts, which is why M2M, GPS, and connected devices can be such a big value add in this segment. These types of businesses can meet higher levels of customer demand by speeding up pick-up and delivery processes.

A global survey even suggests transport and logistics managers believe technology can cut pick-up times by 30% and delivery times by 29%. Intermec, www.intermec.com, surveyed these managers during April this year.

The results show roughly 44% of respondents say process re-engineering is the most effective means of improving operational efficiency, and technologies such as broadband mobile communications, telematics, and RFID (radio-frequency identification) offer the most promising ROI to their organization.

In the end, the secret to success is data and being able to use that information as effectively as possible. For UPS, identifying the different types of analytics and how those apply to its business is critical to moving its business forward.

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