Speed, accuracy and traceability

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Mobile Computing/AIDC (Data capture) Technology Report

This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: Speed, accuracy and traceability.

Retail Technology Review spoke with leading representatives from the analyst and vendor communities about many of the current key talking points and areas of innovation taking place within the world automatic identification and data capture (AIDC)/mobile computing solutions. 

With omnichannel and multimodal challenges within the supply chain demanding ever more refined solutions to ensure speed, accuracy, traceability is achievable from end to end, what are some of the current talking points and areas if innovation within the AIDC and mobile computer space? 

Integration of advanced technologies

Bryan Ball, industry analyst and consultant, ex-Aberdeen Strategy and Research, considers that, in the rapidly evolving world of logistics, the integration of advanced technologies is paramount to maintaining efficiency and meeting the demands of a dynamic market. Ball maintains that two key innovations driving this transformation are Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and mobile technology. He believes these tools are reshaping logistics operations by enhancing speed, accuracy, and overall productivity. 

Within omnichannel, for example, Ball makes the point that companies have to be able to respond quickly, and they need access to all the relevant information and their fingertips, whether in terms of a customer commitment or accessing information on a delivery that's in process and so on. From a data capture perspective, this could involve simple things such as having a chip on items so location-wise you know where they are in the supply chain at any given moment. 

“However, it's one thing to have a chip that says I'm here, but you need to know where here is,” says Ball. “So, it could be that items are located at a large port that is divided up into zones. You need to know what zone your items are in – zone Z, for example. Time is money in the supply chain, so if inventory or containers are sitting waiting on something, the process of ensuring they are offloaded, loaded onto a lorry and transported to your warehouse or to a customer quickly is paramount. In an ideal world you might want a chip on every item in the container, so it reports on itself as to its location as it changes. Well, from a visibility perspective, this isn't new technology, but it still doesn't mean everybody's using it. There is of course a cost component that needs to be factored in.” 

Supply chain visibility 

In terms of fulfilment, Ball adds that, ideally, companies need to be able to look all the way back in your supply chain, to know accurately where an item is and make sure nothing gets sidelined – and if it does, companies need to be able to intervene quickly and take corrective action. So, in terms of mobile technology and where it fits, Ball stressed that RFID can play a very important role. 

RFID technology, though not new, has seen a resurgence in its application across various industries, including in logistics. Essentially, RFID involves using electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. These tags contain electronically stored information which can be read from several meters away and beyond the line of sight of the reader.

RFID’s ability to streamline inventory management is particularly significant. For instance, in a logistics scenario involving the delivery of beverages to a vendor location, RFID can transform the process. Vendors, who traditionally faced challenges in tracking deliveries and managing inventory, can now benefit from real-time updates facilitated by RFID. By placing RFID tags on door frames, inventory counts can become instant and accurate as goods are moved across thresholds. This innovation can not only speed up the delivery process but also can ensure accurate invoicing and can reduce manual errors.

Ball makes the point that, in retail, the application of RFID can extend beyond logistics to inventory management and theft prevention. “Some larger retailers have integrated RFID in their operations to enhance inventory accuracy,” he says. “For example, RFID tags on items can provide precise location data, making it easier for staff to locate and manage inventory. This system has drastically improved inventory accuracy, ensuring that products are available for customers, thus preventing lost sales due to misplaced items. RFID can also help in reducing theft in retail environments. By tagging items and monitoring their movement within the store, retailers can track products from shelves to fitting rooms and back, minimising the chances of theft and ensuring better stock management.” 

Remaining challenges 

Despite the numerous advantages, integrating RFID and mobile technology in logistics is not without challenges. Ball explains that the initial set-up costs and the need for standardisation across different vendors can prove to be a barrier to adoption. However, he adds that as technology becomes more widespread and cost-effective, even smaller companies are beginning to adopt these innovations, driven by the potential for improved efficiency and cost savings. Ball believes that as these technologies continue to evolve, they will provide even more sophisticated tools for managing complex logistics operations. “The emphasis on speed, accuracy and efficiency will continue to drive innovation, ensuring that logistics companies can meet the growing demands of a global market,” says Ball. 

Data capture capabilities  

Alongside RFID, mobile technology plays a critical role in modern logistics. Ball explains that mobile devices equipped with advanced data capture capabilities can allow for real-time tracking and management of goods. For example, this is evident in warehouse operations, where mobile technology can enhance the speed and accuracy of inventory management. 

“In a warehouse setting, mobile devices can enable workers to scan barcodes and RFID tags quickly, updating inventory systems in real-time,” says Ball. “This can reduce the time taken to process shipments and ensures that inventory data is always up to date. The use of mobile technology in logistics extends to delivery services, where drivers can receive real-time updates and route adjustments, ensuring timely deliveries and efficient route management.” 

Internet of Things 

Steve Murphy, director – client services, Panorama Consulting Group, reflects that one of the key recent developments in mobile computing has been the area of the advanced connectivity landscape as it relates to the Internet of Things (IoT). “Although IoT has been around for several years, the advances in wireless networks have allowed businesses to become more and more agile in the control/management of preventative and corrective maintenance,” he says, adding that these developments have also provided enhanced communication between customers and suppliers (automated invoice processing, automated accounts receivable reconciliation, etc.), just to name two of the numerous examples of innovations in AIDC. 

Continuous improvement mindset

In Murphy’s view, the key drivers for these developments in the AIDC world are the same drivers for companies aiming for the continuous improvement mindset, improving the customer experience – Process optimisation, streamlined operations, higher efficiency and reduced costs. In terms of the key benefits of this type of technology for end users, Murphy considers that probably the most important benefit is the overall improved customer experience. “When a customer realises a noticeably improved experience, they are much more likely to return to that provider,” he says. Additional benefits, according to Murphy, are increased productivity and efficiency, streamlined operations and process optimisation and more accurate records. 

Beyond barcode scanning 

Richa Gupta, Michael Clarke and Elliot Mintz, contributing analysts, VDC Research, consider that the use of vision technology in data capture solutions will extend beyond barcode scanning, even in non-factory environments. For instance, VDC’s primary research shows that the use of smart checkout technology is growing steadily, with several Tier 1 retailers implementing variations of the same that best fit their business models. 

“Vision technology is being used to support sensor fusion and/or multi-modal identification (MMID) applications,” they explain. “Multiple sensors work in conjunction with camera technology to enable product identification and loss prevention using various descriptors. VDC expects to see continued emergence of several software startups for the same – some of the current ISVs working extensively with AIDC and machine vision hardware vendors include Focal Systems, HECHT, Tiliter, Unikie and Zippin.” 

Mobile on device AI

In Gupta, Clarke and Mintz’ view, 2024 will be a bounce back year for rugged handheld computers, following two years of contraction. “A key theme for many OEMs is around on-device AI capabilities and how they can support enterprise workflows,” they say. “Early use cases around AI-powered assistants for customer engagement, language tools for translation, forms management workflow automation among others. In addition, the combination of AI-enhanced image processor for fraud detection at the POS or AI supported ESL for dynamic pricing is changing the way organizations operate.” 

EU eco-design regulations

Gupta, Clarke and Mintz also point out that EU eco-design regulations for smartphones and tablets is enforcing OEMs to support more stringent requirements around over device resistance, durability of batteries and support for more OS upgrades. “This has the potential to alter the competitive dynamics with greater performance parity between ‘consumer’ devices and enterprise (rugged) devices,” they point out. 

Circular economy initiatives

Gupta, Clarke and Mintz add that the EU’s CIRPASS – collaborative initiative to lay the foundation for the implementation of a standards-based digital product passport (DPP) – is also something to take note of. “The DPP is a regulatory framework that provides industries with an extensible and flexible system for unique product IDs supported by a decentralised IT architecture with access rights governance,” they explain. “For efforts such as the DPP to gain traction and find success a priority for the early pilots will be to demonstrate economic benefits to operators and how DPP-based business models can make sustainable products less expensive than non-sustainable ones. DPP efforts are not specifying or mandating a specific ID technology with several – from digital watermarking to embedded RAIN RFID tags – likely to be adopted based on the specific use case.” 

Edge-vertical industry solutions

Thomas Bittman, distinguished VP analyst, Gartner, views vertical expansion as the next evolution of edge computing solutions. “There are examples of edge computing deployments in all vertical industry segments, but investment strides in industrial IoT in manufacturing and store transformation in retail have seen these verticals gain early adopter momentum with edge computing for industry-specific workloads,” he says. 

Edge in manufacturing

While any systems integrator can build edge computing solutions for any vertical, solutions with industry specialisation, like smart factory strategies in manufacturing, have created market differentiation among the vendor landscape. In the 2023 Gartner Smart Manufacturing Survey, 34% of manufacturing professionals indicated that they are using edge computing as part of their smart manufacturing strategy. 

Edge computing is becoming more prevalent in enabling either hybrid and/or on-premises integration to industrial assets for the purpose of security, data aggregation and close feedback loop purposes. “Today’s manufacturing automation is all about the cloud; tomorrow’s manufacturing hyper-automation is about an edge-in and cloud-out architecture,” says Bittman. “By coupling AI software, edge processors and IoT, edge AI is bringing intelligence to the machine level.”

To facilitate a cloud-out/edge-in architecture, manufacturers require manufacturing-experienced systems integrators to understand the intricacies of the shop floor problems, like unplanned downtime, anomaly detection, asset health monitoring and predictive maintenance. According to Gartner, some notable edge use cases for manufacturing are:

  • IT/OT convergence and system integration.
  • Connectivity of industrial assets and product lines.
  • Contextualisation of asset telemetry data.
  • Extraction of insights of asset telemetry data.

“System integrations that align with the smart factory and factory-of-the-future vision will empower manufacturing CIOs to propagate an edge architecture throughout all lines of businesses within the manufacturing value network,” says Bittman. 

Edge in retail

Bittman adds that retailers have struggled with gaining real-time visibility and intelligence about store operations, thereby limiting their ability to bridge the gap between the physical store and digital channels. Furthermore, he makes the point that on-shelf availability of stock is an urgent business driver, not only to facilitate customer satisfaction and store revenue, but also to enable storebased fulfilment of online orders. “As a result, the retail industry continues to witness tremendous transformation of the physical store,” he says. 

Bittman explains that edge architectures facilitate processing of large volumes of data across a number of IoT technologies getting deployed at the ‘store edge’. This includes technologies such as smart shelves, smart check-out, smart robots and RFID, as well as traditional store systems like point of sale.

Edge computer vision is also being deployed to power real-time video analytics to track and reduce shrink due to theft in the store. “Shrink — a calculation used by retailers to identify inventory loss — is an enormous pain point in the industry that erodes overall profitability,” Bittman points out. “Total annual shrink has grown to $112 billion in losses annually for US retailers.” 

Beyond in-store execution and operations, critical functions such as merchandising and demand forecasting can benefit from real-time feedback on inventory status, according to Bittman. “Customer preferences from the stores can also benefit, resulting in significant efficiencies in retailers’ balance sheets. Edge computing solutions continue to gain wider application in retail along with in-store, IoT solution deployments, while also providing the means to extend the efficiency and life cycle of traditional systems.” 

5G technology 

Thomas Rissmann, EMEA senior sales manager, software, Code Corporation, also observes that end users are heartily embracing edge computing and tech for real-time data collection. “The broad introduction of 5G technology has propelled these developments by making data transfer lightning-fast for more efficient processes and immediate access to insight,” he says. “So, tech partners are scaling up accordingly and uniting these sophisticated technologies with the point-and-scan simplicity of data capture software like Code’s CortexDecoder SDK.

“For instance, a SaaS provider developed an app that uses CortexDecoder to digitise assets and track daily operations. With every scan of a QR code or GS1 DataMatrix barcode, data instantly funnels into business-friendly dashboards. The app, for instance, enables field service firms to easily track the maintenance history of stationary fixtures, like pipelines. Its asset-tracking capabilities allow these firms to rent out tools and machinery, creating additional revenue. 

Rissmann adds that Covid-19 and Brexit are still rattling supply chains. However, he observes that businesses are bolstering supply chain resilience through edge computing. “Across healthcare, manufacturing and retail, our partners and end users recognize the value of quicker, localised data processing, which enables agile decision-making,” he says. “SDKs keep advancing to support machine builders and app developers with turnkey, enterprise-grade barcode reading. After all, smartphones symbolize flexibility, so data capture must match that versatility with pinpoint accuracy.”

Rissmann explains that edge computing moved from early content delivery networks to factories where it’s helping power Industry 4.0 thanks, in part, to SDKs. “A prime example is the world’s first ‘drive-through’ barcode scanner,” he points out. “The scan portal relies on IoT sensors, 2D and 3D cameras and the CortexDecoder SDK to read 300+ 1D and 2D barcodes in seconds as forklifts speed through at 8 KM/H. Integrated edge computers calculate in parallel to discern logos and perform measurements. AI and machine-vision algorithms then report on load carriers used and freight quality with speed and accuracy that the hardest-working employees couldn’t match.” 

Automation is the key word 

René Schrama, chief revenue officer & managing director, Europe, Peak Technologies, states that automation is the key word. “We are seeing a definite move towards reducing manual processes and labour. As a result, interest in fixed industrial scanning, machine visioning, robotics, RFID/RTLS and AI-driven insights has significantly risen in the last 12 months.” Schrama believes the predominant driver for these developments has been a reduction of available workforce. “In the US market alone, the available workforce has shrunk by 35 million in the last 20 years,” he explains. “Most developed economies are seeing similar trends. Therefore, companies have no other option to look for new, automated approaches towards increasing their productivity and profitability.” 

AI at the edge of the network 

How can the latest technologies such as AI help address the needs of a mobile workforce and boost product productivity? Schrama explains that Peak Technologies has a division called Smart Technologies. Part of the company’s solution set includes Peak Analytics, which is an AI-powered image recognition suite for delivering parcel intelligence in high-volume parcel sortation facilities. The solution captures real-time images as parcels move through scanning tunnels. “As it is camera-vendor agnostic, Peak Analytics enables a searchable database of parcel images and dimensions from across your entire supply chain, allowing our customers to get actionable dashboards when and where they’re needed at the parcel, tunnel, facility or enterprise level,” explains Schrama. “We are now using the same AI models to create new use cases such as automated pallet receiving/shipping.” In terms of direct benefits for users, Schrama explains that Peak Technologies’ customers are seeing higher efficiency, fewer errors and improved productivity through automation. 

Are there any remaining concerns regarding the use of AIDC/Mobile Computing systems? Schrama believes that, in essence, Peak Technologies can design systems around most, if not all, concerns. “We are finding the legal framework tends to differ from territory to territory and, as such, we adapt the solution components to comply with the relevant local legislation,” he says. “This is always validated by our customers and as such we do not experience any showstoppers in this area.” 

Shift towards multi-modal capabilities  

Charlie Cowan, account manager, Dakota Integrated Solutions, considers that although mobile devices are constantly improving with speed, processing power etc., there has been little fundamental change regarding the design and features of the hardware. What has changed in his view is a shift towards multimodal capabilities. “This has led to greater adoption of screen-based (mobile phone-type) enterprise devices, which typically include a built-in scanner,” he says. “Various applications can be run on these devices and built in software has enhanced management user interface and security features available.” 

The Covid-19 effect 

In Cowan’s view, the main drivers for these developments include Covid-19. “This changed the landscape for companies causing a dramatic increase in ecommerce,” he says. “Although levels did decrease after the pandemic, they were still significantly above pre-Covid levels.” Cowan adds that some businesses that were now set up for e-commerce had to quickly adapt e-commerce in general; and drive a different consumer mindset (the Amazon effect), including immediate/next-day deliveries, which puts a huge strain on the supply chain. 

Geopolitical events 

According to Cowan, geopolitical events have been another key driver for change. “Some of these events have affected lead times and increased costs for raw materials used in all types of technology (chips) and consumables (labels and media),” he says, adding that oil & gas prices affect shipping costs, which are passed on. “This can either mean increased cost to the customer or to businesses willing to absorb them.” Cowan also cites Brexit as a cause of labour shortages for warehouse workers. 

Growth opportunities 

What are some of the main trends happening in the digital services realm your teams could leverage to build recurring revenue pipelines in digital content services? Mohamed Alaa Saayed, senior program director and head of digital content services, Frost & Sullivan, cites the following: 

  • Capitalising on ad-supported monetisation models: As businesses and consumers increase their reliance on digital media, online advertising spaces are becoming a central destination for brands and agencies. This implies that several direct-to-consumer services are pivoting to become increasingly digital, while online service providers are diversifying revenue streams by adopting business models that include advertising as a tool to increase revenues.
  • Developing innovative applications with cutting-edge technology: Advancements in XR, edge computing, displays, sensors and 5G, are transforming the way individuals engage with digital content in physical or virtual surroundings. Now, as companies across manufacturing, retail, construction, automotive mobility, and healthcare grapple with the dearth of experienced technical employees and workflow challenges, commercial XR hardware is poised to generate new opportunities worth $40.68 billion by 2029, helping businesses maximise operational efficiencies, facilitate remote collaboration and enhance CX.

Lara Forlino, ICT industry analyst, digital content services, Frost & Sullivan, states that the dynamic digital content services landscape is compelling enterprises to adapt and innovate, unlocking new applications for AR, VR, GenAI, the metaverse, ad-supported video streaming, and social gaming. “By embracing disruptive technologies and strategic partnerships, providers can maximise alignment with evolving customer expectations to capitalise on these growth opportunities,” she says. 

Integration 

In terms of the relationship between AIDC/mobile computer/RFID systems and back-office systems, Murphy, considers that AIDC is tightly aligned to systems such as ERP, CRM, WMS, Supply Chain Management and Transportation Management in several ways. “For ERP, AIDC plays a key role in AP/AR automation, storeroom operations in issuing parts to the shop floor, quality checking during in process work and work order completions, receiving operations and cycle counting,” he explains. “For WMS, AIDC is key to receiving, putaway and pick/pack/ship processes. For SCM purposes, it is important with traceability in shipments from supplier and to customers.” 

Schrama comments that most back-office systems in Peak Technologies’ experience do not cater well for some of the newer automation solutions. “For example, if a customer would like to track its totes, cages, pallets etc, it is highly likely that we would recommend different technologies (GPS, RFID, Bluetooth etc) depending on the asset value or the contents’ value of the asset in question,” he says. “Understanding where assets get lost or do not conform to standard business processes then requires typically a sub-system that co-ordinates all these different approaches before interacting with the back-office system.” 

Robotics 

Schrama explains that Peak Technologies also sees the same with robotics. “We have not found any vendor that has the right robotic solution for each application (point-to-point, pallet moves, palletisation, co-bots etc). Therefore, this is again driving the need for an integrator such as Peak Technologies to provide an overarching solution framework that can integrate with the back-office systems.” 

Rissmann makes the point that mobile device manufacturers worked to make back-end system integration successful, which is creating a strong demand for comprehensive traceability that supports safety and compliance. “That’s because compatibility with ERP, WMS and transportation management systems provides real-time visibility and synchronisation across the supply chain for more efficient and accurate inventory management, order processing and logistics,” he says. 

Another change highlighted by Rissmann is the ease of obtaining true cradle-to-gave traceability thanks to SDK-equipped devices. “A Code partner leveraged the CortexDecoder SDK to create a healthcare app that digitalizes testing and sample management,” he says. “Scanning the barcode on a just-collected blood sample kickstarts a digital chain of custody that begins with EHR input and packing and ends with in-facility tracking and receipt by lab staff. The Cortex-powered app is helping save the average UK health trust £560,000 annually by eliminating labelling errors and preventing waste by automatically updating nurses on sample request changes.

“Initially developed for healthcare, the app is gaining visibility in law enforcement and the lucrative world of animal husbandry. That’s because the app demonstrates the benefits mobile devices and AIDC bring to supply chain and risk management, regulatory compliance and user satisfaction.” 

Cowan reflects that the cost of RFID has fallen significantly over the past 10 years, and this technology can often generate a good ROI. He adds that more applications/modules of back-end system providers are being developed with full functionality on the Android OS. Cowan also sees greater availability of software that can help to bridge gaps and he believes that more competition means more cost-effective solutions. Cowan also cites real-time visibility as a key advantage for users. “The ability to see how a company is performing in real-time is helping to drive efficiencies within warehousing, transportation and last mile,” he points out.

Better security 

In terms of what have been the subsequent benefit improvements for the user, Cowan makes the point that one device can now do it all and with application development focusing on user experience and big data collection convenience and efficiency levels are even higher. “More competition in software/open systems means more cost-effective solutions,” he adds. Cowan also recognises improvements in security levels. “Cyber security is always going to be a risk, but the development and design of software tools to help combat these risks or threats has also increased exponentially,” he says.

Convergence 

What is the current state of play regarding technological convergence? Schrama states that although Peak Technologies sees convergence in mobile devices, the more interesting convergence is that of different technology stacks being integrated together to deliver improved outcomes. “For example, in retail we are seeing CCTV imagery being used through AI models to identify unusual customer behaviour, which then in turn drives store employees’ actions and tasks through their headsets. We see this trend in manufacturing, supply chain and in retail. It brings together what in effect were separate ‘islands’ within an organisation’s IT infrastructure.” 

The right tool for the job 

Cowan considers that multi-modal is great where it works in minimising the devices and software used to perform an array of different functions or processes. However, he adds that sometimes there is a requirement for specific technology to perform a specific task. “Understanding this and being able to provide balanced opinions on the use of technology solutions to empower users/businesses to make the best inform decisions is a ‘good thing’ for those who know how,” he says. “Technology is constantly evolving at a dramatic rate. This means enhancements for existing solutions or alternatively a completely new way to do something. Keeping on top of technology trends is hard, but a necessity.” 

Remaining concerns 

Are there any remaining concerns regarding the use of AIDC/mobile computing systems? Rissmann believes data capture's unprecedented gains could stoke security and confidentiality concerns for some. “This is because systems are becoming increasingly interconnected,” he says. “Similarly, the rapid advancement of AI and its widespread use add complexity and vulnerabilities, requiring ongoing monitoring and ethical guidelines. Going forward, robust encryption, authentication and privacy measures will be risk mitigation must-haves. Today, though, select SDKs, like CortexDecoder, help mitigate security concerns through offline licensing that adds a layer of data privacy.” 

Rissmann adds that our disaggregated world poses another challenge by hindering interoperability and standardisation while creating resource-sapping waste and inefficiencies. “For instance, the European Pallet Association e.V. (EPAL) organises Europe’s ‘pool’ of EPAL load carriers, which are traceable via QR code. A simple SDK scan provides that pallet’s transit and maintenance history. This granular data informs material handlers and operations staff of what’s in play for planning. Moreover, EPAL has also calculated that each of its wooden Euro pallets reduces Europe’s ‘carbon budget’ by almost 30 kg through reuse and repair. Many developed nations don’t have similar pools, contributing to pollution and diminished profits.” 

Rissmann also considers that security concerns and interoperability struggles mean robust and highly visible cybersecurity and ethical AI usage must be prioritised. “Our industry must be proactive so that our end users can fully harness the potential of AIDC, mobile computing and RFID systems while minimising risks,” he stresses. 

Future trends

What might be on the near horizon in terms of further technological developments within the supply chain space? Some of the opportunities Murphy has heard about are potential AI advancements in modelling and process automation. Another new development area on Murphy’s radar is advanced data processing at the device level and not having to send data back to the ‘home cloud’ for processing. “So, there is lots to look forward to,” he says. 

AI for improved productivity and speed of business processes 

Data from Aberdeen's latest AI & The Future Workplace study include the point that the greater use of AI to improve productivity and speed of business is the number one driver influencing workplace culture in 2024. Ball considers that, looking ahead, the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics with RFID and mobile technology will likely continue to improve logistics operations. He explains that AI can analyse vast amounts of data collected through RFID and mobile devices to optimise logistics operations. For example, AI can predict potential delays in shipments and suggest alternative routes or interventions to ensure timely delivery.

Ball adds that advanced analytics also play a crucial role in predictive maintenance and asset management. He points out that by analysing data from RFID tags and mobile devices, logistics companies can predict when equipment might fail and perform maintenance proactively, reducing downtime and increasing operational efficiency. 

Further data from Aberdeen's latest AI & The Future Workplace study include the point that Best-in-Class or top-performing companies are more likely to keep their teams connected through technology. Compared with other organisations, they are:

  • 126% more likely to leverage real-time video assistance for operations teams.
  • 78% more likely to use assisted reality (AR)-assisted support to enable workers in the field and on the road to collaborate with experts.
  • 25% more likely to use predictive fault remediation recommendations based on alert data.
  • 13% more likely to use smart devices/wearables to track employee and asset locations and provide updates through notifications.

Also referenced in the report is that 68% of organisations say hiring skilled talent has been moderately to extremely difficult over the past year. They believe that to retain their existing workforce and attract top talent, it is important to provide employees with technology to make their jobs easier and keep teams connected. 

Cowan considers that one trend to watch out for will be the merging of AI and virtual reality into various solutions to increase effectiveness, efficiency and productivity. However, he adds it is important to note that to just ‘jump on the bandwagon’ of these technologies without understanding how it will deliver improvements and user experience will likely drive-up costs for no business benefit. 

Rissmann says we can expect more AI integration into mobile apps, boosting the real-time decision-making that end users seek. “Ongoing advancements in edge computing will give mobile devices more capability for local data processing, improving response times – especially in low-connectivity areas,” he says. “RFID enhancements will drive wider adoption for inventory and supply chain management. Secure authentication methods like biometrics and blockchain will address data security concerns.

“Of course, these developments place an even greater emphasis on the importance of camera-based data capture on mobile devices. So, there will be steady demand for the inherently simple point-and-scan data collection SDKs provide. Additionally, the growing impact of wearable technology will further shape the market and data capture. Across Europe, CortexDecoder-equipped smart glasses enable long-distance pick-by-vision for dramatically improved shipment inspection within airfreight. As all these technologies merge, partners and end users will begin really pushing tech’s boundaries to make industries safer, streamlined and more profitable. AIDC specialists must remain at the forefront to make that possible.”

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