The year 2020 has often been singled out by futurists and technologists as the year when sci-fi will become reality – humans were to walk on Mars and everyone was to own a flying vehicle of some sort.
While there’s definitely some progress on that front, let’s take a look at the more plausible tech trends that will change how businesses operate.
Increased use of blockchain technology
Despite being at a nascent stage in the enterprise space, we will no doubt see the growth of blockchain use across various industries for enhanced traceability in areas such as anti-counterfeiting, supply chain operations, and patient data.
It has become mission-critical for organisations to master their data ownership pertaining to usage rights, data privacy and security as best-in-class customer experience becomes increasingly data-driven.
Supply chain players that can realise immediate benefits from blockchain include pharmaceutical, food and goods manufacturers, logistic providers and healthcare institutions.
Blockchain will be used wherever immutable and event-driven “trust” needs to be established or where there is a need to share specific data in a secure, democratised way.
In the case of food manufacturing, there will be an increase of legislation around food and drug safety compliance globally in order to secure supply chains and increase transparency and safety for the end-consumer.
Blockchain will be a key pillar of the ecosystem that will help companies achieve these objectives, and they will require track-and-trace technologies like temperature sensitive labels, barcodes, and radio-frequency identification (RFID).
Growth of intelligent automation
Enterprises are also looking for technological solutions that can enable the automated smart tasking of their workers empowered with actionable data from advanced tracking technologies and prescriptive analytics.
These intelligent automation technologies will include:
- Computer vision-based artificial intelligence that are delivered through modalities such as scanners, vision-based sensors and robots. As camera technology becomes “intelligent”, enterprises will be able to monitor their environments and workflows to make automated decisions to improve customer experiences.
In retail, this could mean implementing frictionless (or cashier-less) checkouts or automated shelf inventory control with the use of robot assistants. In manufacturing, the use of vision-based technology can help increase quality control and the speed at which it’s done.
- Robots that will co-exist with human workers, to guide and assist them in the work, so that they are freed up from doing mundane work to focus on higher value tasks. We should see it as “taking the robot out of the human” – which will allow enterprises to reallocate precious human labor toward the greatest area of need with the highest impact.
As enterprises look to adopt more intelligent automation, there is a pressing need to develop a common, central point of orchestration of disparate sensors, devices and automation platforms in a synergistic way across the value chain to deliver a successful transformation. This cooperative orchestration between automation systems and human workers will be critical to achieving the highest levels of productivity improvement in the not-too-distant future.
Wider adoption of RFID and advance analytics
Enterprises today need greater visibility in terms of their inventory levels, work-in-progress status, and their staff’s location to gain a competitive edge.
We’ll see increased use of RFID and computer vision technologies from the football field to the plant floor to the retail store. RFID adoption is increasing at a rapid rate as customers look to improve asset visibility in a near real-time manner. The adoption of RFID Electronic Product Code (EPC) continues to expand, with the market growing by more than 30 percent in 2019, double the growth in 2018.
And with access to real-time data, enterprises need to implement complete solutions that can collect data and process that raw data into actionable insights automatically, thereby enhancing efficiency. Enhanced visibility of any business operations will only be useful if the data gathered can be churned into actionable insights within a reasonable timeframe
These are just three of the key trends that we think will help enterprises in their quests to become more intelligent in 2020 and beyond. At Zebra, we are excited that we are able to bring these cutting-edge solutions to the market with our wide ecosystem of partners – not tomorrow, but – today. How’s that for 20/20 vision?
For more information, visit zebra.com.