If you thought things have been busy for technology developers and engineers throughout the pandemic, just wait for this year.
By James Pemberton, director, global ISV, alliance and developer Strategy at Zebra Technologies
Many of the challenges experienced across global sectors this past year will be further amplified as society tries to transition back to some level of normalcy amid sustained behavioral changes. And many organisations will find themselves at a crossroads as they set a path forward. Do they proceed with their current growth and technology implementation roadmaps? Adopt or abandon certain platforms? Accelerate or slow down modernisation efforts? Scale up or scale out current implementations?
Though there is no clear indication of which technologies will win in 2022, decision-makers who participated in three recent Zebra vision studies did confirm technology interests and implementation plans are more diverse than ever, mainly because their priorities are diversifying. In the next 12+ months, they must figure out how to:
- Stabilise their supply chains. Everyone from governments and healthcare providers to auto dealerships, restaurants and retail stores will be more willing to try new technologies or techniques to achieve incremental gains in speed, accuracy or efficiency levels. This will be especially true among those vying for safety stock and making more aggressive moves to better control – and possibly even own – their end-to-end supply chains.
- Cut off the growth of shortages. Expect shortages in labour, shelf stock, manufacturing output, raw materials/natural resources, and even operational capacity to be addressed in a very surgical way – and with technology either informing decisions or serving as the solution.
- Compensate for gaps … in labour, fulfillment, stock and preparedness. Though not a new concept, workforce augmentation will become a priority in 2022 out of necessity. And that will mandate greater trust in and utilisation of technologies that can better inform – if not fully automate – day-to-day business planning, decision-making, and task execution. This frees up workers’ time for higher-level problem solving, strategic planning, company advocacy, and customer service.
- Meet customers’ service-related demands. The on-demand economy now extends to transportation, utility, public sector, and emergency services providers, among others. They must find a way to scale their workforce, streamline workflows and improve the situational awareness of field-based teams so they can effectively dispatch the right people to the right places at the right time with the right equipment and tools.
- Make “sustainability” a sustainable practice. Businesses are being called upon to accept their responsibilities as corporate citizens and commit to new shipping and packaging practices centered on waste and carbon emissions reduction. This, of course, will require increased use of digital technologies to guide decision-making and provide transparency into progress.
- Remain compliant with increasing and evolving regulations. The good news is that most technologies used to ensure compliance with industry and customer mandates will also address other business problems or introduce new workflow or functional efficiencies.
- Address the sprawl. Population centres are shifting and expanding at unprecedented rates. In 2022, we’ll see a race to build, repair and replace infrastructure and expand services, including healthcare, offered to local residents. Construction rates will increase in both the residential and commercial sectors, with road, utility and other critical infrastructure projects picking up to enable – or perhaps catch up to – the growth. We’ll also see more efforts made to extend the reach of services outside typical geographic parameters. This will require the digitalisation of systems and strengthening of telecommunications networks, as well as more fundamental IT infrastructure investment to ensure decision-makers and front-line workers alike can effectively capture, receive and apply actionable data points in a simplified way.
How to Get People to Ring You in the New Year
If you’re aiming to grow your business, focus on providing software solutions to these problems – and communicating to the market that you offer these solutions.
Just be sure you are thinking and speaking from the customer’s perspective rather than talking about your exceptionally innovative technology. If you can tell them exactly how to fix the issues that are keeping them up at night, the value of your software will speak for itself and the benefit of your expertise and partnership will be overwhelmingly evident.
Remember, though we call technology a “solution,” it’s really people who solve problems using technology. So, show customers how to capitalise on the many different mobility, cloud, automation, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and software tools at their disposal.
Once they see you aren’t trying to force fit your platform into their architecture – that you’ll work with them to find the right approach to solving both age-old and new age problems – you will gain the trust needed to form a long, trusting relationship that will generate revenue far past 2022.