Five years after it started installing sensors to monitor its vehicles and using GPS to track their movements, UPS launched one of its most ambitious technology projects: a system capable of handling the massively complex task of optimising the routes taken by its tens of thousands of drivers. No matter how impressive the technology, it is only as good as the people who use it.
“For the first time in their 100-year history, they can make real-time routing decisions about picking something up and dropping it off,” says Tom Davenport, a US management expert and author, most recently, of Big Data at Work. He adds: “It takes a lot of autonomy out of the job [for drivers]. UPS people say that change management is the biggest issue.”