A FedEx guy showed up at my door this morning with a package at around 10:35 EDT. But when I poked my head out the door, there was no FedEx truck. Just a charcoal grey pick-up truck with the engine running. "Where's the big pretty FedEx truck?" I asked the FedEx guy as he headed back to his vehicle. "Our [FedEx] trucks were overwhelmed because of the holidays. So everyone's pitching in with our own cars. There's a bunch of us driving around town." he replied.
Thinking nothing of it, I closed the door and went back into my home office. Then it occurred to me that he didn't having any of the tracking gizmos with him. Then it occured to me that if he was using his own truck, it probably didn't have any of the fancy schmancy wireless gear that keeps their systems and the tracking information up-to-date. So, I copied down the Tracking ID off the package and went to FedEx's tracking page to see whether it had been updated yet. So far, it has been almost 90 minutes since the package was delivered and the Web site says the package is still "On FedEx vehicle for delivery." (It probably should have said "On John's Chevy and we're not exactly sure where that is right now"). In addition, the trucks must not be all that's overwhelmed. FedEx.com isn't exactly zippy this holiday season. Somewhere in this anecdotal case study lurks an IT lesson for those of you who are hell bent on building a real-time enterprise (RTE).