FedEx at Forty: Pushing Boundaries

FedEx innovators lead the way in bold advances.

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SenseAware not only tracks a package’s location but allows customers to follow its journey in real time and monitor such factors as temperature and light exposure.

“Innovation has to be 
in a company’s DNA.”

When Carter speaks to groups,he often 
shares his insights on the notion of  “the Four Horsemen,” that is, servers, networks, storage, and software that basically — to simplify a hugely complex process — make up cloud computing. “A cloud is rather nebulous, with no clear borders or boundaries,” says Carter, “and that’s really not a bad name for the whole spectrum of technology because we seem to have no boundaries. We live in a world where we are able to tap into so much, from stars in space, to the light exposure inside a FedEx package.”

 “As we look ahead at changes,” he adds, “they look like chaos, but when we look back, we see the significant unifying and empowering capabilities that came forward. Technology undergirds everything we do.”

While FedEx is widely recognized for helping shape the world of information technology, Carter himself, who worked for GTE (which became Verizon) prior to joining FedEx, has earned his own bragging rights: He’s been ranked 18th on Fast Company magazine’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” list; has thrice received Information Week’s Chief of the Year award; and was a charter inductee into that publication’s CIO Hall of Fame. He was also recently named to Fortune magazine’s Executive Dream Team.

But he credits his 25-member innovation team — who represent IT, technology, and business disciplines within FedEx — for always pushing the boundaries. “Innovation has to be in the DNA of a company. You can’t just flip a switch and say we’re going to be innovative. You’ve got to have people who constantly seek the edge of what’s possible. That’s the kind of people we have and what they’re doing every day.” 


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