Actionable insights are key for 2017

Zebra Technologies

By Wayne Harper, CTO APAC, Zebra Technologies
Thursday, 02 February, 2017


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Asset intelligence and visibility must be as smart as the world we live in to help enterprises be more productive.

Last year marked another stand-out period for the technology industry. We witnessed significant progress in autonomous vehicles, machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities, robotics, the number of devices connected to the internet and wireless networks… the list goes on.

What will 2017 bring? We see three emerging industry trends that will potentially affect Australian businesses.

Perishable data

As ‘things’ become increasingly affixed with barcodes and RFID tags, they are given a digital voice to communicate with humans. Gartner has forecast that 6.4 billion connected things would be in use worldwide in 2016, reaching 20.8 billion by 2020.

Over the last few years, we have also witnessed an exponential growth of unstructured data generated from industries that have been disrupted by the Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics. However, the conundrum remains that many organisations are unable to fully make sense of all this data fast enough before it loses its value.

We believe data is perishable. Its value is time-sensitive and has a limited shelf life. Businesses must therefore make sense of data before it expires.

Decoding data collected through IoT-enabled devices and wearables will help companies accelerate their decision-making processes and make better informed business judgements.

Doing more with devices

Each day, more consumer-grade devices powered by various operating systems are being embedded deeper into business operations — just think about how we use our smartphones, tablets or laptops for work. Many organisations even allow or encourage their employees to BYOD.

Despite being portable, flexible and cost-effective, these devices do not incorporate the kind of technological capabilities needed to achieve high performance and drive efficiency in an enterprise setting.

In 2017, enterprises will continue to look for new ways to enhance and expand the functionalities of their devices to try to achieve a level of performance on par with that of enterprise devices.

Rise of omnichannel retail

2017 will also be a banner year for omnichannel retail. According to Innovative Retail Technologies’ 2016 Retail Tech Spending Report, nearly 78% of surveyed retail executives stated their companies place emphasis on innovative technologies and processes to increase margins and improve customer experience.

However, challenges remain. A lack of inventory visibility makes it hard to anticipate or meet sudden demand surges. As the supply chain for omnichannel expands in size and complexity, businesses need to find a way to better track stock and predict demand across the supply chain.

RFID is the fundamental underpinning technology of omnichannel retail, enabling the retailer to see in real time where its product is in the warehouse and how much stock is left. Locationing services will also be incorporated into innovative offline stores to gain actionable insights to boost customer engagement, with services such as location-based coupons and assistance, real-time shopping maps and loyalty programs delivering an unprecedented shopper experience.

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