An interview with Gregory Brown and Laura Patel, UPS


One of the most profound, and perhaps unanticipated, impacts of the COVID pandemic is the dramatic changes in the global supply chain, the global workforce, and new pressures on delivery and logistics. . Certainly, no one would have imagined that a cause primarily related to health would have such profound impacts on the economy, labor, and basic materials.

However, with the challenge comes the opportunity. Organizations are re-examining their processes and technologies that deal with all aspects of the production and delivery of goods and services to the market, from the origin of raw materials to the delivery of finished products. Organizations focused on shipping and logistics are particularly aware of the new reality, and UPS, one of the world’s largest delivery and logistics companies, is certainly no exception.

Speaking during a next Data for AI event on October 7, 2021, Gregory Brown, VP Strategy and R&D, Advanced Technology Group at UPS and Laura Patel, Senior Data Scientist at UPS, explain exactly these impacts and how UPS makes data-driven decisions for AI innovation . In this Forbes interview, Greg and Laura share some ideas they’ll be diving into during the online event.

In what innovative ways are you leveraging advanced data analytics to benefit UPS?

Gregory: We use advanced data analytics, AI and automation to process more volume, more efficiently with the reliability our customers expect from us. These tools are essential for increasing visibility and control of the packages arriving on our network, where those packages are going and when they need to be delivered. We’ve also reduced transit time between millions of postal code combinations. This translates to more smiles from satisfied customers.

How do you identify which problem (s) to start with for your data analysis and cognitive technology projects?

Gregory: We are always on the lookout for opportunities where the needs of our internal and external customers intersect. For example, our operating internal customers may benefit from better use of our facilities and vehicles, and our external customers would also benefit from improved reliability, visibility or transit time. To find the most impactful opportunities, we use a technology-independent approach that gives us the flexibility to identify solutions that best match our business.

What are some of the unique data and AI opportunities you have?

Laura: Predicting how many and what type of packages can enter our network is a unique opportunity to take advantage of advanced data analytics and AI. We are able to more efficiently determine how 24.7 million packages and documents pass through our network around the world every day. This increases the opportunities for our team to make data-driven decisions faster across our global network.

Can you share some of the challenges of adopting AI and ML?

Laura: Integrating new technologies, or even new applications of existing technologies, into a 24-hour global business requires an extraordinary amount of planning and preparation. We take special care to ensure that the adoption of new technologies is transparent, reliable and secure, and is understood and usable by our employees and customers.

How do analytics, automation and AI work together at UPS?

Laura: We’re starting with a solid foundation in analytics, expanding into AI, which allows us to move into automation. Using a modular approach, we can identify problems that need to be addressed and create robust, repeatable and scalable solutions.

What are you doing to develop a data-literate, AI-ready workforce?

Gregory: We attract master’s and doctoral level talent to our company and also use our promotion culture from within to train our employees to master these technologies. We are also making it more accessible to people who are not specialists in AI and data analysis to understand concepts and integrate technologies into their daily responsibilities. This inclusive and team-based approach allows us to apply data analytics and AI across our business.

What AI technologies are you most looking forward to in the coming years?

Gregory: We are excited about how technologies will continue to create opportunities to solve complex problems in innovative ways. Technology is increasingly integrated into the tools our employees use, our vehicles and our facilities. The next step would be to make these technologies more portable using smart infrastructure. A transparent smart infrastructure would open up opportunities to serve our customers in ways we could not have dreamed of a few years ago.

Greg and Laura both share that they will be digging deeper into these details at Online data for AI event coming October 7, 2021.


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