2020 is often singled out by futurists and technologists as “the” year when sci-fi becomesa reality – tarmac roadsare replaced by pneumatic tubes that connect one place to another, flying vehicles of some sortbecome available and humans walk on Mars.

Well, that 2020 vision wasn’t quite 20/20 vision. While there’s been good progress toward those innovations, companies should take a look at the more imminent and plausible tech trends that we will see in the immediate future. These technologies can bring enterprises – be they in retail, transportation and logistics, manufacturing or healthcare – edge by empowering frontline workers.


1. Increased use of blockchain technology
Despite being at a nascent stage in the enterprise space, blockchain is increasingly usedin 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.

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 andaims 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 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 a seamless tracking of assets, from creation to consumption, to solve challenges around counterfeit goods, food safety and overall origin of goods and assets.

2. Growth of intelligent automation
With the labor pool not growing at the rate required to meet 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 fromadvanced tracking technologies and prescriptive analytics.

These intelligent automation technologies will include:
• Computer vision-based artificial intelligence that isdelivered 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 meanimplementing 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 guidenew 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” andboost 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 towardpatient care.

3. Wider adoption of RFID and advance 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.

Withthe 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 help 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).

These are just three of the key trends that will help enterprises in their quest to become more intelligent in 2020 and beyond. Zebra is excited to bring thesecutting-edge solutions to the market with its wide ecosystem of partners – not tomorrow, but – today.How’s that for 20/20 vision?

For more information on Zebra and its solutions, visit www.zebra.com.