Mobility is the Spark To Move From Analog to Digital
Written by Sandra Tansky
3 Min Read
Conversations About Digital Transformation: Zebra
Smart, effective enterprise mobility is comprised of many touchpoints involving providers of industry-leading devices, apps, services and more. Each has a unique and valuable perspective on the most important aspects to achieving success through enterprise mobile technology deployments. Recently, we conducted a series of in-depth discussions with some of the biggest names in enterprise mobile technology to better understand the seismic shifts that are bringing about this digital transformation.
In our latest installment, we engage Chip Yager, Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Zebra Technologies. Zebra is an industry leader in ruggedized mobile technology, offering a full suite of Android-based handhelds, scanners and more to power frontline workers. Their Premium Solution Partner program speaks to their commitment to leverage extensive partnerships in their effort to give businesses the tools and services they need to effect digital transformation.
Zebra is particularly attuned to what goes into inspiring this sweeping change because they’ve been laser-focused on the customer experience. “We look at trends across our customers and verticals to gauge shifts in behaviors,” explains Yager. “We are seeing customers moving from analog processes that are manually driven by human intuition to digital processes where data is captured automatically, and real-time decisions are made autonomously. There are often people involved in digital processes, but their job becomes easier because the right decisions and actions are presented to them. We see this digital transformation as the path that companies go down, moving from their old analog processes to connected digital workflows that help companies become more efficient and offer better customer experiences.”
Specifically, Yager goes on to note a few emerging technologies that have caught their eye. “First is the arrival of smart sensors. Soon, our workplaces will be instrumented so they can automatically sense how work is getting done as well as locate critical equipment and people in the operations. Increasingly the workflow itself will be directed by these sensing infrastructures. We’re starting to see the first elements of that with Zebra’s SmartPack and SmartLens solutions.”
“The second area to note will be machine learning,” he continues. “Particularly when used in conjunction with expanded data capture technologies. A richer data set enables smart analytics and machine learning insights to determine workflow. Finally, I think we will see more intelligent automation that combines technologies such as computer vision and decision automation to enhance operations.”
It’s of utmost importance that these technologies translate into practical usability gains that both optimize the way employees do their jobs and help futureproof their companies’ operations. Yager explains what that looks like for a few specific industries.
“For a retail associate, we have designed purpose-built devices that enable a person working on the sales floor to do everything they possibly could, to help customers, as well as address the tasks that are part of a retail associates’ day. Employees can interface with customers, show them information like product comparisons and make orders to ship directly to the customers’ homes. These devices are rugged, ergonomic units that can last for years. We ‘futureproof’ by building our devices using modern smartphone chipsets, providing long-term security updates and integrating voice interfaces to enable future capabilities.”
Shifting to another vertical where Zebra devices are critical for everyday associates, Yager says “in field services, employees need devices that can put up with the kind of rugged, challenging environments that a delivery person must navigate throughout an eight to ten-hour day, moving as quickly as they can. They are constantly jumping in and out of vehicles, often carrying many boxes at a time. They need a device with a large screen for easy navigation and fast processing so that they can handle the rapid pace of the day. But most importantly, that device must be able to put up with the drops and tumbles that inevitably happen day in and day out.
We ensure that our devices are built to the highest durability specifications so our customers can use these devices for years to come. The United States Postal Service just selected Zebra as its next-generation mobile delivery device provider, and 300,000 of our devices will optimize its delivery network with real-time visibility for its letter carriers.”
This is why mobile technology is such a crucial piece of the puzzle for enterprises. According to Yager, “mobility itself creates engagement among people and across operations. This is particularly true with empowering front-line workers. Equipping them with the right mobile devices gives these employees the tools they need to do their jobs as seamlessly as possible. Mobility devices are often the primary method of capturing operational data. We will continue to see the growth of mobility as more and more workers need to be connected and enabled in their roles. For example, there are still many retail associates who don’t have access to adequate technology. These unconnected employees are not able to communicate, receive and respond to tasks or support customers at the same level as their connected counterparts.”
Beyond the technology, Zebra understands that some organizational mindsets may be resistant to fully embrace the investments and resources necessary to enable digital transformation. Specifically, Yager says that “depending on the industry, there’s a skillset gap out there that is very challenging for many organizations to overcome. There just aren’t enough people that understand these new technologies well enough to support their evaluation and deployment.
In addition, we’re fighting uphill with organizational bandwidth. Our customers are under pressure today to keep up with the expectations of their clients. But somebody needs be able to step back and look at those long-term investments that can improve the business down the road.
We must stop applying old paradigms to new technologies. The refresh rate for mobile computers may have been seven-plus years in the past for some customers, but we would never expect that out of a consumer cell phone. Newer enterprise mobile computers are much closer to smartphones from a technology point of view, and we should be a top consideration when evaluating/projecting refresh plans. Even with security patch availability going well beyond what a cell phone typically has, customers may be disadvantaged if they expect that the investment they make today would be the right investment seven years from now.”
This is why Zebra engages with partners like Stratix to offer end-to-end mobile programs that offer comprehensive services and devices, along with best-in-class support throughout the planning, deployment and the entire lifecycle, to maximize the life expectancy and meet project outcome expectations. “Partners like Stratix are critical”, says Yager. “Zebra needs partners who want to invest in learning new technologies and have solution-based mindsets; partners that are focused on providing engineering support to customers. We need partners that have trusted advisor relationships with their customers. I believe Stratix is a great example of just that type of partner. “
Be sure to read the rest of our conversations about digital transformation in our eBook The Role of Enterprise Mobility in Digital Transformation for valuable insights on how the evolution of enterprise mobility is changing the business landscape.
The Role of Enterprise Mobility in Digital Transformation
We interviewed industry experts to get their most valuable insights including real world examples of successful, mobile-led transformations.Read the eBook