*FedEx Improves Data Warehouse, Offers 360-Degree View of Customers

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FedEx Corp. has upgraded its data warehouse in an effort to serve its customers' needs better and market to them individually.


FedEx, Memphis, TN, decided last year to upgrade its data warehouse, which then included a little more than two years of detailed transaction data on all FedEx Express shipments.


The company decided to create a bigger and more robust data warehousing solution to handle the growth, acquisition and organizational changes that had happened or would be happening shortly.


Early this year, for example, FedEx changed the organization of its business -- renaming all its subsidiaries and its holding company to FedEx Corp. -- in an effort to leverage and extend the FedEx brand and to provide customers with an integrated set of business solutions and a single point of access to express, ground, logistics and supply-chain solutions. In June, the company launched one Web site for access to online package tracking and service feature information, one toll-free telephone number, and one invoice and account number for express and ground transportation services.


FedEx had to have the new data warehouse in place when these changes occurred so it could add data from other subsidiaries to the data warehouse to assure a smooth transition.


The data warehouse includes traditional shipping data -- such as names, addresses and purchasing data -- from all subsidiaries, along with a prospecting database. Combined, the database has millions of names.


The data warehouse also had to accommodate all of the shipping information tracked daily.


"We ship over 4 million packages a day, and we are going through peak season now, and it may add another 1 million per day to our volumes. So we gather up a lot of information, and we need to be able to process that on a daily basis every day in the data warehouse," said Rick Gilbert, director of marketing and decision support systems at FedEx Services.


"We need a high-performance system that can process this," he said. "We also want to be able to extend this out to a large number of users. For example, we have about 700 designated users online right now, and many of them are online at the same time."


Moreover, FedEx wanted a system that allows the company to grow in increments "so that when you add new data to the system, it can be done without having to take a big outage to redesign the database," Gilbert said.


FedEx selected an enterprise data warehouse solution from NCR Corp., Dayton, OH, which "we believed would give us the growth and scalability that would serve us going forward, " Gilbert said.


The multiterabyte solution, based on NCR's Teradata database, includes NCR consulting and support services, hardware and software. The newly installed data warehouse is designed by NCR to give FedEx more information about its customers' needs across all its subsidiaries and to provide FedEx with the scalability to accommodate database and user growth across the business.


FedEx has done some beta testing with the new system and is ready to start drilling down deeper into the data warehouse, sharing that information with other departments and sending out more targeted direct mail pieces.


"We are able to go into a lower level of who our customers are," Gilbert said. "Today, we tend to be at a level of an account, where we keep track of shipment at an account level. But, what we really want to do is ... know who the customers are within those accounts, and what their roles are that they perform within that account."


Gilbert said the company is gathering this information from several places, including its sales force, the Internet and call centers, all part of "our customer 360-degree strategy so we can tap into all of the different contact points we have with customers, bring that information into the data warehouse and then share it among all of the customer contact points."


Gilbert said that by providing an enterprisewide view of each customer through all points of contact with FedEx, the data warehouse also enables the company to make faster customer-focused business decisions.


"We required a data warehousing provider that would enable us to transform the immense amount of data generated every day into valuable business information," Gilbert said. "By better understanding the needs of our customers, we are able to offer them a full range of service capabilities that will help them succeed in today's fast-paced market."
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