In many ways, the business and operational environment we face in 2021 is radically different from what we faced just a year ago. It’s no exaggeration to say that the transformations we’ve seen as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic have altered workflows forever. Many business leaders are looking at technology solutions that can help them keep pace; here’s a brief look at just three of the technology trends you might want to make a focused investment in during the months ahead.
1. Traceability Technologies
In today’s social media-driven world, it’s just too easy for competitors to swoop in and grab market share when your customers’ trust declines even the slightest bit. That makes winning the trust of customers more important than ever, whether your business delivers products to other enterprises or to end-users.
To maintain customers’ trust, it’s essential to reduce errors, minimize the scope of potential defects, and ensure product safety. Knowing exactly where every product has been, where it is right now, and where it’s headed next can be the difference between a problem averted and a situation that spins out of control. That’s why many business leaders are putting increasing emphasis on technology tools that assist with product safety and tracing.
The food services industry offers a perfect example. In a recent study conducted by Zebra Technologies, nine out of ten food and beverage industry decision-makers indicated that technology geared towards improving safety and traceability could drive competitive advantage. Among the benefits they cited were the ability to track compliance with food quality and safety guidelines, and the ability to monitor the intake of raw materials and ingredients.
Rugged handheld mobile computers with integrated scanners, mobile barcode label printers and rugged scanners were identified as the top three technologies for improving traceability. The goal is to deploy tools and devices that enhance visibility and transparency throughout the supply chain so manufacturers, distributors, and retailers can head off potential problems before they threaten customers’ trust.
2. Real-Time Location Solutions
Closely related to product tracing solutions are the real-time location systems (RTLS) that automate asset tracking to help organizations better manage and optimize their critical assets, streamline operations, and create more efficient workflows.
The Internet of Things (IoT) offers a framework for capturing and exchanging location data in real-time, without direct human interaction, and the ability to easily track location has become an essential selling point of many IoT devices. Within the context of an IoT platform, more and more businesses are utilizing RTLS to capture new levels of information to help them manage assets. This approach enables new levels of visibility, more effective asset management, and more effective decision-making.
3. Rugged Mobile Devices
Whether your business is healthcare, manufacturing, retail, or warehousing, it doesn’t take long to discover the weaknesses of consumer-grade mobile devices. The smartphones and tablets that serve perfectly well in a home office just don’t offer the durability and security needed for most workplaces, and one of their signature features is planned obsolescence that drives frequent upgrade cycles. These realities have more and more organizations taking a long, hard look at rugged devices.
Enterprise-grade rugged mobile devices are engineered for longer life cycles that generate a much better return on investment. This starts with design characteristics that allow rugged mobile devices to survive rough handling and deliver reliable performance in challenging conditions. With superior drop and tumble protection, the ability to withstand extreme temperatures and exposure to the elements, and long-lasting batteries, today’s rugged, enterprise-grade devices can be expected to last for up to 10 years.
Even when consumer-grade devices outlive the typical three-year lifespan, they’re a challenge for IT departments to manage. But a good rugged mobility solution will offer easy-to-use device management tools that reduce the time and energy your IT staff has to put into device configuration, deployment, and management. It will also deliver regular security upgrades to ensure that data remains protected through the entire life cycle of each device.
Staying competitive is an ongoing process. For recommendations, support and more, please contact MSM to learn how these three emerging technology trends can benefit your business.