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What Happens When Enterprises Take a Page from the NFL’s Playbook?

By Jeff Schmitz | 06/01/2018 | 10:31 AM

The NFL may be in the offseason, but it’s primetime for warehouses and distribution centers

Over the past few years, the NFL has adopted its own strategy to generate and analyze data and insights. By planting coin-sized RFID chips in players’ shoulder pads—and the footballs—the NFL has access to unprecedented data about speed, distance traveled, acceleration and more. This technology turns a football field into a series of data points. For example, NFL coaches can quantify and analyze quarterback accuracy or running back durability over the course of a game.

This collective information creates what we call a ‘digital diary’ of what’s happening at every moment of the game. The data is used to enhance the fan experience with never-before-seen, real-time player statistics. It also offers important insights about athlete performance to inform coaches’ strategies and enhance player safety. In addition to fan-friendly stats—for example, Jacksonville Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette recorded the fastest ball carries of the season—coaches can analyze wide receiver route efficiency, and team trainers can monitor fatigue patterns to preempt injuries.

By now you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about football strategy in a publication read by logistics and supply chain managers and executives. Worlds apart at first glance, both those on the front line of a football field, and on the front line of a warehouse or retail store, look to RFID technology and sensors to gain a performance edge. In fact, enterprises can learn a lot from the NFL.

Much like how a football field becomes a grid of data points and connections for fans, a plant floor can do the same for administrators, providing actionable insights to dictate the next best action. The same technology that captures “Next Gen Stats” about football games and player performance, also generates next-gen stats in manufacturing—from inventory stock to field route optimization to load monitoring and management—and everything in between.

While coaches and fans track a football’s journey to the end zone, logistics executives track a parcel’s path from fulfillment through delivery to a shopper’s door. Even more, with the visibility and insights generated from tracking technology, a fleet manager has the power to adjust and optimize a truck driver’s route based on real-time information. A trailer operator can load the vehicle safely and efficiently without excess space. Even in the healthcare environment, a hospital can guarantee it’s connecting the right patient to the right care and medicine at the right time.

From football players to hospital patients to key assets in a warehouse, data-powered environments offer real-time insights and visibility needed to capture performance edge and reach higher levels of productivity, growth and service.

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About Jeff Schmitz

Jeff Schmitz

Jeff Schmitz is senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Zebra. Mr. Schmitz most recently served as executive vice president for multiple business units and sales at Spirent Communications where he had previously also held several senior leadership roles including chief marketing officer and vice president of networks & applications. Prior to joining Spirent, Mr. Schmitz held senior marketing positions at Rivulet Communications, Visual Networks and Tellabs Inc. Mr. Schmitz holds a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Marquette University and a Master of Science degree in computer science from the Illinois Institute of Technology.



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