Ryan Goh, Vice-President and General Manager, Asia Pacific, Zebra Technologies
The increasing complexity of today’s business landscape has resulted in the explosive popularity of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, which have allowed enterprises to capture data from every aspect of their business and operations. Successful enterprises of the future will rely on real-time data and insights into that data to run their businesses efficiently with a competitive edge.
Businesses have derived great value from emerging IoT strategies – serving as vehicles to fuel critical operations and drive efficiency. By 2020, there will be more than 20 billion devices connected to the IoT, according to research consultancy Gartner. Additionally, within that projection, they estimate more than 8 billion of those connected devices will be within the enterprise space – up from about 3 billion in 2017.
Zebra Technologies’ recently released second annual “Intelligent Enterprise Index” – which measures companies on their ability to connect the physical and digital worlds to drive innovation through real-time guidance, data-powered environments and collaborative mobile workflows – saw the number of companies in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region rated as being truly “intelligent” spike from 2 percent last year to 22 percent this year. This has shown that businesses in the APAC region are quickly realizing the value of IoT solutions and investing accordingly.
As we move into 2019, we are seeing two distinct business trends which are helping businesses realize true value from IoT solutions, and are helping to propel adoption in the region ever forward: the use of data-driven insights at the edge – the front-line of businesses – as well as the use of advanced analytics.
Data at the Edge of Enterprise
There is a shift toward a more connected, collaborative system where physical and digital entities converge across multiple channels and models. With further development of new technologies such as augmented reality (AR), people will be increasingly dependent on the immersive experience offered by the smart edge devices that surround them.
Enterprises have sought for years to obtain insights from “Big Data” - large amounts and volumes of data that businesses collect and store on a daily, sometimes instantaneous basis. But in 2019, priority will shift towards “small actionable data” accessible naturally within a workflow, where it is specific to a use case to solve a problem and achieve desired outcomes. Enterprises need to empower the edge, or the front line, across multiple channels to create conversational systems that enable people and machines to communicate effectively and naturally in the future.
Perhaps one example most consumers would be familiar with is the use of technology within retail stores. Retailers are investing to increase front-line associates’ effectiveness by arming them with the technologies. For example, mobile computers help to drive higher customer satisfaction with a great frictionless experience, by giving store associates a performance edge as they are able to help customers find the right products, enhance the buying experience online and offline, and address stock availability. In turn, these visibility technologies need to be combined with collaborative solutions coupled with indoor locationing that allows for instant access to a wide variety of subject matter experts to be effective.
New emerging technologies such as AR and heads-up displays will drive transformation in the user experience and reset the expectations from a mobile edge device – the embodiment is likely to evolve into very different avatars in the long run as they augment the human workforce to be more effective. In retail, store associates using AR can quickly be instructed on how to position items on the shelves or identify goods that are out of stock.
Making Use of Big Data Through Advanced Analytics
Businesses are looking to expand the capabilities of data capture and the way it is employed to track and trace assets and critical data in an automated fashion. They demand integrated data solutions that not only take data capture to the next level but are also integrated with analytics that offer real-time guidance - generating directional and actionable insights for real-time decision making.
In the transport and logistics industry, for example, coordinating cross-docking activities requires a high degree of asset visibility to ensure efficient and accurate movement of goods, equipment and people. Mobile solutions help ensure that right shipments are put on the right trailer in the right order – making sure last out is first in – so drivers don’t experience delays while making deliveries.
For supply chain management, analytics can identify the most strategic locations for distribution centers and for shipping specific products. It can also determine the best mode of transportation for each load, the type of supplies, the quantity, and the time that material will be needed, as well as optimize shipping schedules, routes and loads.
With enhanced analytics, businesses are moving from forecasting to intelligently anticipating and predicting both operational and customer needs. Such capabilities are enabling businesses to shift from reactive to proactive planning, manual to autonomous activity, and standardized to personalized service.