Archives for August 2018

Addressing What’s Next in the On-Demand Economy with Intelligence at the Edge

By Jeff Schmitz | 08/28/2018 | 9:26 AM

We live in a world where the line is blurring between the digital and the physical, and instantaneous service delivery is becoming ubiquitous. In an age of hyper personalization, convenience and information, customers expect what they want exactly when, where, and how they want it. Immediate gratification is the new norm. This on-demand economy continues to push what it means for enterprises to be “customer-driven,” and they must digitize operations to remain relevant and compete. Early attempts to address these needs sparked innovation at the core of the enterprise, but today innovation is exploding at “the edge” of business.

The edge is where we create seamless and frictionless customer experiences. From sales associates who delight shoppers with the items they want without leaving their side, warehouse workers who pick inventory so that the right things get to the right customers at the right time, and truck drivers who take the most direct and efficient route to get packages to recipients sooner.

Where we used to centralize operations, forward-thinking companies are now pushing resources and intelligence to the edge. For example, instead of sending all information to the cloud, now some of it can be transmitted nearby where it’s created. Think about how traditionally, inventory has been stored in warehouses, but as retailers gain better visibility into stock, ecommerce inventory can now be pulled from the local retail stores. Rather than waiting for a package to arrive, shoppers now have the option to pick up a purchase at a local brick-and-mortar location when and where it’s convenient.

In these demonstrations of smart environments at the edge, the employees making real-time decisions and interacting with the products and people they serve become even more critical to enhancing the customer experience. In today’s customer-centric business environment, front-line workers must be armed with the tools and data-driven insights to drive successful outcomes.

Within the supply chain, empowering employees with the latest technology and real-time insights helps companies gain a critical performance edge. Nearly all supply chain professionals we recently surveyed said that by 2020, they will use handheld mobile computers with barcode scanners to attain omnichannel logistics capabilities to meet customer expectations for speed, quality and performance.

In an era in which 78 percent of logistics companies expect to provide same-day delivery, finding ways to digitally transform operations and empower employees with intelligence at the edge has never been more important.

Innovation is happening in front of our eyes, but forward-thinking companies are looking ahead to what’s next in the on-demand economy and creating flawless customer experiences at the edge. Those who don’t will be left behind.

Real-Time Location Intelligence Drives the Smart Factory

By Jeff Schmitz | 08/07/2018 | 6:39 AM

The on-demand economy and unprecedented customer expectations are fueling a shift toward the smart factory. In fact, our Manufacturing Vision Study found the number of fully-connected factories is expected to double by 2022, showing industry leaders are poised for significant progress over the next few years. While shifting to the smart factory model may be daunting to some, when you look at some of the technologies involved that can provide near-term ROI, it’s easy to see the path to growth. One example is location solutions.

When you don't know the location or condition of your most critical assets, it’s nearly impossible to maintain control over your operations. The only way to ensure quality, speed, efficiency and performance levels that meet today’s customer demands is to achieve 100 percent visibility within your factory and connect previously siloed operations. As the Internet of Things (IoT) impacts the evolution of the enterprise and fuels the connected factory, many manufacturers are looking to real-time location tracking for increased visibility into their business operations.

Location information drives operational intelligence in accelerating digital transformation. With a solid understanding of the exact location of assets, goods and people, manufacturers can determine if their operations are working as expected and make decisions based on real-time data to course-correct when things go wrong. By linking asset location, status and motion/flows, companies can increase control, minimize downtime and maximize performance.

Location solutions such as Zebra MotionWorks™ can automatically sense the location of assets and inventory, streamlining production lines and delivering actionable insights to increase productivity and efficiency. This facilitates the continuous flow of goods between transportation systems, distribution centers and manufacturing plants, ensuring the right tools arrive at the right work station at the right time. For an automotive manufacturer, location visibility translates into less on-hand inventory from local suppliers due to improved accuracy along with significantly reduced inventory-carrying costs and improved labor productivity.

In addition to streamlining workflows and boosting performance and efficiency, location solutions help ensure the safety of employees. On plant floors where workers are constantly surrounded by hazards, adopting solutions to reduce human error and keep the workforce safe is critical. With the added visibility that location solutions provide, plant floor managers can increase connectivity, enhance compliance processes and ensure work is handled according to safety requirements.

While helping protect the workforce, location solutions can also equip factory employees with accurate, real-time edge data. According to Zebra’s Intelligent Enterprise Index, 70 percent of companies already share information from their IoT solutions with their employees more than once a day. Interestingly, two-thirds of these companies share this data in real or near-real time.

Ultimately, location solutions and the intelligence provided by them empower front-line workers with a performance edge as they have the real-time guidance to execute tasks and make strategic business decisions to advance operations.

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

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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