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Why eCommerce is driving the need for faster field operations - Zebra

Fri 7 Jun 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Zebra announced the results of its latest vision study on the future of field operations.

The study reveals mobile technology investment is a top priority for 36 per cent of organisations and a growing priority for an additional 58 per cent to keep up with rapidly evolving and increasing customer demand.

The findings indicate investments will be made in disruptive technologies and enterprise mobile devices to enhance front-line worker productivity and customer satisfaction in field operations including fleet management, field services, proof of delivery and direct store delivery workflows.

“Driven by the acceleration of eCommerce along with customer’s heightened expectations and more focus within companies on differentiating service levels, the field operations industry is rapidly adapting the way it looks at its mobile technology investments,” said Zebra Technologies director Jim Hilton.

“Our study shows how growing challenges related to the on-demand economy drive organisations to adopt transformative, disruptive technologies such as augmented reality and intelligent labels to provide visibility and integrate business intelligence for a performance edge.”

Equipping front-line workers with enterprise mobile devices remains a priority to stay competitive.

The survey shows today only one-fifth of organisations have a majority of their field-based operations using enterprise mobile devices. This is estimated to reach 50 per cent in five years.

Respondents indicate most organisations intend to invest in handheld mobile computers, mobile printers and rugged tablets. From 2018 to 2023, handheld mobile computer usage with built-in barcode scanners is forecasted to grow by 45 per cent, mobile printers by 53 per cent and rugged tablets by 54 per cent.  The higher levels of inventory, shipment and asset accuracy provided by using these devices is expected to increase business revenues.

A key driver of productivity, efficiency and cost-savings in field operations is ensuring ruggedised enterprise devices replace traditional consumer ones. Nearly 80 per cent of respondents usually or always conduct a total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis of business devices prior to making a capital expenditure.  Only 32 per cent of respondents believe that consumer smartphones have better TCO than rugged devices.

Tertiary concerns and post-sale factors are important for organisations when evaluating front-line worker enterprise mobile devices.

The survey reveals these TCO considerations when investing in new front-line enterprise technology: replacement (47 per cent), initial device (44 per cent), application development (44 per cent) and programming/IT (40 per cent).

Almost 40 per cent of respondents say device management and support costs are important as well as customer service (37 per cent), device lifecycle cadence (36 per cent) and repair costs (35 per cent). Such factors increasingly influence the purchase cycle, showing that those who do not provide clear value or cannot control these costs will quickly be overtaken by those who do.

Emerging technologies and faster networks are disrupting field operations.

The survey shows seven in ten organisations agree faster mobile networks will be a key driver for field operations investment to enable the use of disruptive technology.

Significant industry game-changers will be droids and drones, with over a third of decision makers citing them as the biggest disruptors.

The use of smart technologies such as sensors, RFID, and intelligent labels also play a role in transforming the industry. More than a quarter of respondents continue to view augmented/virtual reality (29 per cent), sensors (28 per cent), RFID and intelligent labels (28 per cent) as well as truck loading automation (28 per cent) as disruptive factors.

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