Emerging technologies top trends for 2020

Zebra Technologies, a company that offers enterprise-class technology products, services, analytics, and solutions, shares its insight on innovations that will disrupt industries this new year and a new decade. It highlights how emerging technologies before could finally go mainstream and affect various industries.

Increased use of blockchain technology
Despite being at a nascent stage in the enterprise space, blockchain is increasingly used in various industries for enhanced traceability in areas such as anti-counterfeiting, supply chain operations and patient data. It is mission-critical for organizations to master data ownership, especially as this pertains to usage rights, data privacy and security as best-in-class customer experience becomes increasingly data-driven.

Have you read “Zebra Technologies card printers receive Red Dot recognition”?

Supply chain players that can reap immediate benefits from blockchain include pharmaceutical, food and goods manufacturers, transportation and logistics providers, healthcare institutions and even retailers of high-end goods. 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, democratized way.

Real estate companies in the Philippines are starting to introduce innovations to improve security and efficiency. Blockchain has a major advantage in this sector as it helps limit fraud and provide better transparency. Another implementation of blockchain technology in the country is spearheaded by a well-known educational institution, AMBERlab. It is the first university-based blockchain research laboratory in the Philippines and aims to advance blockchain’s research for use in health tech, edutech, AI, fintech and other industries.

In the food and drug sectors, blockchain will be a key pillar amid increasing legislation around food and drug safety compliance globally in order to secure supply chains and increase transparency and safety for consumers. Blockchain will help companies achieve these objectives as these enterprises require track-and-trace technologies such as temperature-sensitive labels, barcodes and radio-frequency identification (RFID).

This increased focus on the blockchain has boosted interest in one of the cornerstone Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) of Zebra’s Data Services known as Blockchain Traceability. This API can provide seamless tracking of assets, from creation to consumption, to solve challenges around counterfeit goods, food safety and overall origin of goods and assets.

Growth of intelligent automation
With the labor pool not growing at the rate required to meet the accelerating demand, enterprises are looking for technological solutions that can enable the automated smart tasking of their workers. These solutions are empowered with actionable data from advanced tracking technologies and prescriptive analytics.

These intelligent automation technologies will include:

  • Computer vision-based artificial intelligence that is delivered through modalities such as scanners, vision-based sensors, and robots. As camera technology becomes “intelligent,” enterprises will be able to monitor their workflow and environment to make automated decisions fora better customer experience.
  • 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 improve quality control and the speed at which it’s done.
  • Entrepreneurs acknowledged the significance of AI to the growth of their business. Organizations that adopted AI expect to increase competitiveness in their fields by 1.5 times in three years. The study conducted by IDC among 109 business leaders and 100 workers in the Philippines showed that 88 percent of businesses are willing to invest in skilling, reskilling and upskilling of workers to help create a fully AI-ready workforce.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) technologies that direct workers to complete their tasks more effectively or guide new workers on the job – all from their wearable devices or mobile computers.
  • Robots that will guide and assist human workers in their tasks and free up some of these workers’ time to focus on higher-value tasks. Retail associates can be spared from doing stock-taking or picking activities to bring back the “service” in “customer service” and boost the shopping experience for consumers. Similarly, in a hospital, medication or specimens can be tracked and transported by robots, so that healthcare providers can direct their efforts toward patient care.

Wider adoption of RFID and advanced 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. They are expecting more from data capture, especially by using 2D barcodes, computer vision and RFID.

The 2D barcode is now ubiquitous on shipping labels and in grocery stores, patient wristbands and mobile payments, and the adoption of this square barcode will undoubtedly continue to grow.

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— a double-digit growth from 2018.

With the real-time data that RFID and computer vision technologies can offer, 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.

Enterprises are on the lookout for complete solutions that will allow them to collect data, gather insights from that data and even offer prescriptive analytics that helps them make faster and more accurate business decisions. The Department of Science and Technology, in partnership with the Development Academy of the Philippines, has initiated training 30,000 individuals from the government, the academe, and business process outsourcing industry on data science and analytics through the program “Smarter Philippines Through Data Analytics, R&D, Training and Adoption” (SPARTA).

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