Tech Insight: Wayne Harper, Zebra Technologies

Zebra Technologies

Thursday, 12 January, 2017

Tech Insight: Wayne Harper, Zebra Technologies

What’s the next big disruptive play in the technology sectors and what impact will it have?

We’re continuing to see an increased rate of computerisation and automation across any number of industries. This isn’t revolutionary in and of itself, but it’s taken a leap forward again thanks to the increased use of augmented reality (AR) in business applications. AR is very new territory, and the best means of implementation are still being worked out. This is the nature of any new technology, but it will be particularly interesting to see whether or not a standardised model emerges. Alibaba, for example, has already implemented facilities that allow virtual shoppers to pay for items simply by nodding. This would not be ideal for everyone, of course, but it will help pave the way for more sophisticated innovations in the future.

The continued expansion of automation theoretically means that operations will be smoother and more predictable. But almost paradoxically, more time will need to be invested into training staff for if and when something goes wrong.

Which will be the biggest growth opportunities for your customers in 2017, and why?

Staff training has always been a tricky area for businesses. While it will always be necessary in one form or another, for businesses to stay competitive it’s essential that they are able to get staff to be more effective, more quickly. As a result, the ability to speed up the induction and training of new staff members is a big growth opportunity for customers in 2017, if leveraged correctly.

This seems to be an outgrowth of trends that we’ve recognised based on 2016 sales. We’ve found that there were increased sales of Android-based scanning devices, which have traditionally been more effective at helping bring staff up to speed quickly than their Windows-based counterparts.

What technologies do you see emerging in 2017, and how will they help your customers?

Among our transport and logistics customers, we’re seeing an increasing reliance on beacons and sensors that utilise NFC and/or Bluetooth functionality for micro-locating purposes. Essentially, these allow companies to maintain a much higher standard of data concerning the whereabouts of their deliveries. Currently, the transport and logistics sector in Australia is under tremendous pressure to deliver; every change for the better, no matter how small it is, is eagerly seized on by the industry as a whole.

And while transport and logistics-based businesses have been the primary adopters of this technology, we’ve also seen considerable interest from the hospitality and healthcare fields. In hospitality, a sensor-controlled room can reduce the need for people to carry around swipe cards. In health care, staff can move about freely as required, while patients can be confined to appropriate areas of a facility.

Wayne Harper is CTO and Senior Technology Director APAC for Zebra Technologies, and has been with the company and its recent acquisition — Motorola Solutions’ enterprise business — for 20 years, during which time he has held many senior technical and sales positions.

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