Wise Practitioner – Predictive Analytics Interview Series:

Jack Levis of UPS

By: Eric Siegel, Founder, Predictive Analytics World

In anticipation of his upcoming conference keynote at Predictive Analytics World Boston, “UPS Analytics – The Road to Optimization,” we asked Jack Levis – Senior Director, Process Management at UPS, a few questions about his work in predictive analytics.

Q: In your work with predictive analytics, what behavior do your models predict?

A: We use a tremendous number of predictive and prescriptive models at UPS. They are used to help make decisions, which range from where to build a facility and what type of aircraft to purchase to which packages go in each trailer and how to maintain our delivery fleet.

We currently have 700 dedicated resources working on a system called ORION, which has been called “arguably the world’s largest Operations Research Project.” With ORION, we are using analytics to determine the best way for a driver to serve our customers at the lowest cost.

Q: How does predictive analytics deliver value at your organization? What is one specific way in which it actively drives decisions?

A: We do not do anything by the “seat of our pants.” Analytics is engrained so deep in our culture, it is difficult to separate analytics driven decisions from normal business processes.

In 1954, our CEO said, “If we did not have operations research, our rate of growth might have been affected. As we grow in size, our problems increase geometrically. Without Operations Research, we would be analyzing our problems intuitively only, and we would miss many opportunities to get maximum efficiency out of our operations.”

Analytics has helped UPS make better decisions in all parts of our business.

Q: Can you describe a successful result, such as the predictive lift of your model or the ROI of an analytics initiative?

A: In 2003, UPS began using predictive models to better plan our delivery operations. This suite of tools called Package Flow Technologies along with Telematics has been responsible for a yearly reduction of 85 million miles driven per year. This reduced our fuel needs by over 8 million gallons and reduced carbon emissions by 8,500 metric tons.

In addition, because the analytics and business processes are fully aligned we have been able to deploy new products for customers. UPS’ MyChoice is a prime example of that.

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