“Without the right products on the shelves, DSV won’t be a winner going forward.” That’s the no-nonsense assessment of our CEO Jens Bjørn Andersen who is chairing the Innovation Lab which hatches and tests new ideas before presenting them to customers all over the world.
It’s essential for DSV and our future competitiveness. Being a major player enables us to invest in digital innovation, an option that is not available to smaller companies
says Jens Bjørn Andersen, whose chairmanship of Innovation Lab will ensure that ideas are gathered and tested and then speedily implemented in the business once they’ve proven their viability.
“We originally envisioned Innovation Lab as a passive unit, receiving input for new ideas from our operational units. But in reality, our day-to-day tasks and challenges in the business prevent ideas from ever seeing the light of day. That’s why we want a keener focus on innovation going forward,” Jens Bjørn Andersen says.
At the same time that Jens Bjørn joins the board of Innovation Lab, the laboratory will be allocated a permanent budget, to enable prompt funding of promising new projects. Jesper Riis, CIO, runs Innovation Lab on a day-to-day basis together with René Falch Olesen, CCO.
“Having Jens Bjørn as chairman from now on will give Innovation Lab an enormous boost. It will ensure that the entire organisation gives Innovation Lab the attention it deserves,” says Jesper Riis, who estimates that Innovation Lab will continuously process a handful of ideas in the “laboratory”. Many ideas never get any further than being presented to Innovation Lab’s board. The rest are tried out, initially as a simple pretotype, then a prototype, and finally as a pilot project and actual business case involving a customer who sees how they can benefit from the new initiative. If, as expected, the case has a positive result, the idea can subsequently be implemented at global or regional level.
Local innovation too
“Innovation Lab is not designed to hold all conceptual development in DSV. In most countries, new ideas and initiatives are developed every day and have a beneficial local impact. We’re only involved with new developments that have global or regional impact and transcend one or more countries,” Jesper Riis says.
“We’ve got a highly selective process for choosing which ideas to proceed with. Otherwise we’d expend all our innovative capacity on pretotypes and prototypes of new innovative items that would never go anywhere,” he explains.
In order to monitor developments and plan the future innovation process, Innovation Lab has developed an ‘Innovation Radar’ to indicate whether an idea should be in the pipeline or the more distant future – or totally ignored. The radar shows that driverless trucks, drones and advanced cognitive computing are in the radar’s outermost readings. Natural Language Processing is closer because it involves computers that will soon be reading and distributing e-mails. Technologies already in use to some extent are chatbots, which can communicate with customers of their own accord, or blockchain which is already being used on an experimental basis for handling medical products.
“We think it will take a few years before driverless trucks and drones – and 3D printing for that matter – have a significant impact on our business area. But we’re monitoring all technologies, and if we see a reasonable time perspective, we’re ready to act,” says Jesper Riis.
The robots arrived!
Until then, DSV can enjoy all the technology that has made its way to offices and warehouses, not least over the past two years where the proliferation of robots in particular has been dominant, especially for handling routine office tasks. The same is true of AGVs (automated guided vehicles) that are being used in warehouses, digital interaction with customers, advanced new databases and the Internet of Things with sensors, GPS for track and trace, and other features. And not least predictive analysis which can provide credible indications of a customer relationship and can predict the volume of cargo expected in warehouses going forward.
Add to that the new digital platforms specialising in easy booking solutions for any customers (usually small and medium-sized companies) who prefer having an extra link between themselves and the transport provider.
But it doesn’t stop here, and current trends make it difficult to credibly predict the situation just two or three years down the road. According to Jesper Riis, the immediate future will have “much more of what we’re already doing.” In this context he mentions more robots, predictive analysis, digital interaction with customers and some of what is already on the radar screen: machine learning, i.e. artificial intelligence but in a more down-to-earth form:
“We’re looking for things of practical significance, which we can benefit from in the short term. Robots are incredibly effective at performing routine tasks that few people want to do. On the other hand, it’s more difficult – and fortunately, I might add – for the technology to think outside the box, which is why we can benefit greatly from working with the machines.”
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