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By Steve Beda

DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR PARCEL DATA? The amount of data a shipper has access to can be overwhelming. Here’s how to take that information and put it into practice.

I

recently watched an interesting YouTube video that basically mapped out the history of the universe using a simple chronological chart with milestones ranging from the birth of the Milky Way all the way to the existence of life on earth. Based on a 24-hour clock, this translated to life existing on earth during just the last few seconds of the very last minute. While watching the video, I couldn’t help but compare the history of the universe to the ongoing digital revolution. I remember writing my first computer program using punch cards on a mainframe, and my first personal computer had only a few kilobytes of memory — just a few decades ago. It wasn’t long ago that the lack of data and computing power were real constraints for those that desired robust analytics to better manage their business. Today, we now have extraordinary amounts of data and computing power; however, we are only just starting to fully leverage the immense insight and value of all this data. This begs the question: “Do you know what to do with your parcel 18 PARCELindustry.com  JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2019

data?” I can assure you that companies wanting to become best-in-class are thinking hard about this question. To answer fundamental questions about your parcel spend and formulate strategies for optimization, you need to know and understand your current state. A common method for defining your current state is understanding your parcel shipping profile. Obviously, top-level package counts and total spend is important, but it isn’t really helpful in answering more complex questions about the carriers you use, optimal origins, or contractual rate discounts and their alignment with shipping patterns. To answer these sorts of questions, you really need to fully understand your shipping profile. You can’t get to the fun stuff, like saving money based on executing optimization strategies, without a complete understanding of your “as-is” state. So, let’s briefly refresh our memories on how to define your shipping profile. A parcel shipping profile generally consists of two distinct types of data element sets or descriptors. The first set

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