Even though most traditional business intelligence implementations are in various states of fruition, there's plenty of talk about how businesses now need to spread BI to the ends of the organization. In his keynote address at our recent BI Forum in Phoenix, FedEx CIO Rob Carter demonstrated why his corporation finds it critically important to do both. FedEx, which posted FY04 revenues of $24.7 billion, will spend more than $1 billion on technology this year. Much of that will go to improving worker productivity and reducing cost, though Carter will tell you this is not the most important contribution to his company's successful use of information.

"The first thing we attempt to do with technology is improve customer satisfaction because that is how we gain competitive advantage," Carter says. "It is absolutely critical to us that our customers are able to get the information they need and that we use information tools to make FedEx easier to do business with." Some of this is self-evident. The one thing FedEx does a lot is pick up packages and put them down somewhere else. But with 663 planes taking off or landing every 45 seconds, information availability at many levels is a must.

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