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Hands-on with Innovation: DHL Leaders Share How—and Why—to Showcase New Technology

March 18, 2024

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This viewpoint is a guest post created by Jennifer Miller and James Giedraitis. Miller is the Vice President, Integrated Transportation at DHL Supply Chain, and Giedraitis is the Head of DHL Americas Innovation Center. Together, they have more than five decades of industry experience and are passionate about the transformative power of technology in the logistics sector.

In the world of physical operations, trying to keep up with the latest technology innovations can seem like a marathon—that you need to run at a sprinter's pace. Take AI as an example. Even if you understand the concept, it can be hard to wrap your mind around how it's used to help a delivery driver do their job more effectively and get from point A to point B more safely. 

At DHL, we make it a point to ensure that everyone can understand the technology we’re using and why. We want our customers and other members of the community to be able to see and get hands on with the solutions that power our operations. That's one reason why we created our DHL Innovation Centers, four locations around the globe where we can showcase technologies enabling future-proof supply chains through enhanced operations, and in turn deliver the highest levels of customer service.

SAMSARA_DHL_innovation center inside

Even if your organization isn't large enough to support a physical center, there are a variety of ways to highlight the investments you're making in technology. Here are three best practices we've applied at the DHL Innovation Centers that you can use to showcase your commitment to innovation. 

1. Have a technology vision, and create ways for people to interact with it.

For DHL, our Innovation Centers have become a key way for customers to get hands-on with our vision for the future of logistics. Visitors interact with a range of technologies—in AI, robotics, automation, IoT and more—that are in use today or have serious potential for the future. 

For example, the truck cab simulator in our Americas Innovation Center has a steering wheel, pedals, and an interactive screen that lets people get as close as they can to sitting in the driver’s seat and experiencing what drivers do every day.

SAMSARA_DHL_simulator

Even without a simulated driver experience, however, you can still give your customers—as well as employees in other departments across your organization—a taste of the technologies you're using. Hands-on demos at your offices, workshops, and trainings can all help make technology innovation real to the people who matter most to your organization.

2. Remember to explain the “why” behind your technology investments.

The technologies in our Innovation Centers can make the amazing seem effortless, but the point of new products and software shouldn't be to make people say "wow." Instead, it's important to keep the "why" behind your technology front and center.

Again, let's look at the example of our truck cab simulator: We not only want visitors to see the technology we're using, but also understand how that technology promotes safety, data-driven insights, and a better experience for our drivers overall.

SAMSARA_DHL_CR_driving

Moreover, technology allows us to communicate openly and honestly about what our technology does and doesn't do. For example, we can show how AI technology in the cab maintains driver privacy and can help exonerate drivers.

This is one of the key reasons you should make proactive communication about your technology vision a priority. Information about new technologies and the impact they can have can’t be confined to your executive meeting rooms. They're most powerful when they're shared across your organization on a regular basis. For example, one way DHL does this is through 

Innovation Insights Live, a quarterly video newsletter that highlights forward-thinking trends, technologies, and solutions for DHL’s innovation community and the industry.

3. Showcase partners who are helping you realize your technology vision.

DHL regularly releases the Logistics Trends Radar, which details the latest business, social and technology trends impacting the logistics industry. This is one of the primary ways we identify what technologies should be featured in our Innovation Centers. 

At DHL, we're focused on providing the best possible logistics services to our customers, and working with partners allows us to maintain that focus while driving forward with new technology initiatives. In today’s rapidly evolving technology landscape, no one expects you to go it alone or attempt to develop everything you need in-house. 

Working with partners, and showcasing them in demos, workshops, or on your organization’s website, can inspire confidence that you know how to make smart investments in your organization’s growth. 

Watch the video to learn more about the logistics technology featured at the DHL Innovation Centers.

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