Monday, 30 May 2016 15:32

IoT pioneer Zebra Technologies shares vision for next wave of industrial age

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The next big thing after IoT is EAI — Enterprise Asset Intelligence  as physical objects become digital, says Zebra Technologies Corp, 18 months after acquiring Motorola Solutions Enterprise business.

Zebra Technologies Corporation, a public traded company with NASDAQ symbol ZBRA, provides global solutions and services for giving enterprises real-time visibility into their operations.

Today Zebra announces its vision for the company moving forward, Enterprise Asset Intelligence, or EAI. By providing "visibility that's visionary", Zebra claims it will increase Australian business' ability to track critical assets within their operations to make smarter, faster decisions which improve the bottom line.

For over 40 years Zebra has developed the technologies which are the foundational building blocks for the Internet of Things (IoT) with sensors, barcodes, RFIDs and wireless networks, collectively known as the Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) market.

The arrival of the cloud and the ubiquity of wireless networks have made connecting devices and mining their data much easier, and the IoT is bringing us into a new industrial age in which the physical is being converted to digital.

Zebra says the evolution of the AIDC market to a more strategically-oriented EAI focus is being driven by technology trends in IoT, cloud-based data analytics, and mobility. Zebra states it is leading this evolution through its operational framework of "sense, analyse, and act".

By this, Zebra means its solutions automatically "sense" information from enterprise assets, including packages moving through a supply chain, equipment in a factory, workers in a warehouse, and shoppers in a store. Operational data from these assets, including status, location, utilization, or preferences, is then "analysed" to provide actionable insights. With mobility, these insights can be "acted" upon to drive better, more timely decisions by users anywhere and anytime.

Zebra states today 95% of Fortune 500 companies already benefit from this framework using its solutions in retail, manufacturing, transportation and logistics (T&L), manufacturing, and healthcare.

According to the Zebra Technologies Global Shopper Survey, stellar customer service continues to drive retail, with 64% of shoppers claiming they are more willing to make purchases from stores that provide better customer service, and 41% of shoppers agreeing they have a better experience in stores where sales associates use the latest technology to assist customers.

Zebra’s recent Global Warehouse Vision Study shows more than 40% of respondents cited shorter delivery times as a key measure requiring warehouse investment. With the visibility Zebra’s technology brings into manufacturing and T&L processes, the industry is in a better position to deliver on the promise of flawless fulfillment, especially as customer expectations increase regarding improved service and shorter delivery times.

In healthcare, patient identification is an important application for Zebra and its customers globally. Smart, non-invasive technology that gives hospitals real-time, accurate time tracking, evaluation, and feedback is essential to provide greater attention and care to patients.

Gavin Norman, head of business services, Toll Customised Solutions, says "At Toll, our purpose is to connect people and products. We see significant growth of sensors and data capture as among the most important global trends in our environment, giving immeasurable growth prospects to emerging technologies in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, augmented reality, and predictive analytics. Innovation is a critical part of Toll’s global value propositions and our close collaboration with Zebra is an important part of our innovation strategy as we seek to work with the world’s best companies to provide the world’s best logistics tools.

"Last year, we were one of three companies to comprehensively trial Zebra’s TC8000 mobile computer in our distribution centers before its global launch into the market. The results were very exciting, both from a workforce and technical experience perspective, and on a productivity level. Zebra has a great record of success, a strong innovative culture and we are excited to continue working with Zebra to provide innovative solutions."

Jeff Schmitz, chief marketing officer, Zebra Technologies, says "Zebra makes businesses as smart and connected as the world we live in, providing the products, software and services that let our customers see the bigger picture instantaneously as hardware talks to software that talks to the cloud. We are moving into a new era of business in which connectivity and ‘visibility that’s visionary’ help organisations sense what's happening in their operations, analyse that data to deliver insights and act on those insights to make better business decisions."


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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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