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."
The next step, as Perez sees it, is to tie everything together and create a graphic picture of UPS's various big data systems so the company can uncover new uses for the data -- and thereby derive more business value from it.
"It starts with process improvements, but once you start tying all of this together, it can mean very big changes in the business," Perez says. "That's what we're getting at."
The Win: Millions in added sales
Traditional business intelligence is alive and well at Intel, but big data mining and predictive analytics are the forces driving design and manufacturing efficiencies, and uncovering new revenue sources that added up to tens of millions of dollars in 2012 alone.
"It starts with believing that you can change outcomes," says CIO Kim Stevenson of the chip manufacturer's massive success with analytics. That, she says, requires less time spent on historical questions, which is the purview of traditional BI, and more focus on the future, which is what predictive analytics is all about.
Predicting the future at $53 billion Intel requires analyzing massive amounts of data to discern patterns and then applying predictive algorithms to solve high-value business problems.