1. What are the inputs, processing, and outputs of UPS’s package tracking system? Inputs: The inputs include package information, customer signature, pickup, delivery, time-card data, current location (while en route), and billing and customer clearance documentation. Processing: The data are transmitted to a central computer and stored for retrieval. Data are also reorganized so that they can be tracked by customer account, date, driver, and other criteria. Outputs: The outputs include pickup and delivery times, location while en route, and package recipient. The outputs also include various reports, such as all packages for a specific account or a specific driver or route, as well as summary reports for management.
2. What technologies are used by UPS? How are these technologies related to UPS’s business strategy? Technologies include handheld computers (DIADs), barcode scanning systems, wired and wireless communications networks, desktop computers, UPS‘s central computer (large mainframe computers), and storage technology for the package delivery data. UPS also uses telecommunication technologies for transmitting data through pagers and cellular phone networks. The company uses in-house software for tracking packages, calculating fees, maintaining customer accounts and managing logistics, as well as software to access the World Wide Web.
UPS has used the same strategy for over 90 years. Its strategy is to provide the ―best service and lowest rates.‖ One of the most visible aspects of technology is the customer‘s ability to track his/her package via the UPS Web site. However, technology also enables data to seamlessly flow throughout UPS and helps streamline the workflow at UPS. Thus, the technology described in the scenario enables UPS to be more competitive, efficient, and profitable. The result is an information system solution to the business challenge of providing a high level service with low prices in the face of mounting competition.
3. What strategic business objectives do UPS’s information systems address? Some problems this information system solves relate directly to logistics and supply chain activities, not just for itself, but also for other companies. These services include supply chain design and management, freight forwarding, customs brokerage, mail services, multimodal transportation, and financial services, in addition to logistics services. Because of the advanced integration of its technology, UPS can provide these services cheaper and more efficient than most companies can create them in-house.
4. What would happen if these systems were not available? Arguably, UPS might not be able to compete effectively without technology. If the technology were not available, then UPS would, as it has through most of its history, attempt to provide that information to its customers, but at higher prices. From the customers‘ perspective, these technologies provide value because they help customers complete their tasks more efficiently. Customers view UPS‘s technology as value-added services as opposed to increasing the cost of sending packages.