05/14/2015

Zebra Technologies’ Stock Pops; Company Soars to New Highs

Zebra Technologies (ZBRA) reported its Q1 2015 earnings on May 13th, beating the market consensus on EPS by 27 cents and that on revenues by $11.37 million. Net sales of $892.3 million for the quarter included the $561 million contributed by the Enterprise business unit acquired from Motorola Solutions, a 6% increase on a constant currency basis. Zebra’s legacy business accounted for $331.6 million, up 15% from Q1 2014, a remarkable increase for what is generally viewed as a stable and relatively saturated market. The company’s gross margin now stands at 45.8%, down from 51.3% for 2014; this is reflective of the change in product mix and the contribution of Enterprise solutions to the overall revenues, which tend to have a lower margin than legacy Zebra products.

Zebra also spent a substantial amount on integration-related activities. The speed with which the company has integrated the two businesses is rather impressive, especially given the size and scale of each of the individual business units. In the past few weeks, Zebra has also launched a new website and hosted its annual partner conference, all with a goal to communicate its new market messaging and value propositions.

Now, here are some key highlights of the company’s first quarter performance:

  • The data capture business unit experienced its second strongest quarter ever (following Q4 2013) – with a healthy run rate business and a number of large deals. Its camera-based bioptic scanner product line is doing particularly well, with the value propositions resonating immensely with large retailers in the US.
  • North America and EMEA continue to be the strongest regions for Zebra. With sales of $443 million and $291 million in the two regions respectively, the company is re-affirming its market leadership position, especially with its legacy printer products.
  • Retail sales were particularly strong in the US as the company saw large deals for printers, mobile computers, and data capture solutions. Healthcare has consistently been a strong performer for Zebra in the past few quarters. The trend continues with growing traction for the company’s solutions to help care providers with medication management, patient identification, and specimen tracking.
  • Perhaps the most noteworthy development in Q1 was the company’s price increase announcement in Europe in late March, effective late April (after four weeks). This is a move to counter the impact of the strengthening dollar and weakening Euro on the company’s profitability and bottom line given that the region represents about 25% of overall revenues. Zebra expects high stickiness for its run rate products like printers and data capture solutions.
  • Enterprise business unit sales in Asia are in the process of getting back on track after having faltered for much of 2013 due to issues with the sales force and other operational challenges. The company’s efforts to reengage with channel partners in the region and rebuild relationships seem to be paying off with sales in China up sharply for Q1. Overall revenues in the region were at $106 million with sales to customers in logistics and healthcare verticals offset weakness in demand in manufacturing.

The company expects the growth trajectory to continue into the second quarter especially with a strong pipeline for large deals. For Q2, Zebra expects total revenues in the range of $865 to $895 million. The price increase on Euro-dominated sales will start to have a positive effect this quarter and is expected to have a more pronounced impact in the second half of the year.

Following its earnings release, ZBRA’s stock went up more than 12%. This speaks of investor confidence in the company and the efficiency with which Zebra seems to be communicating its “One Zebra” message to its customers and partners. Zebra Technologies’ executive leadership is confident in its market standing and optimistic about market opportunities for the remainder of 2015. At VDC, we will continue to follow its progress and keep our readers updated.

05/06/2015

Cognex - Consistently Breaking Records, Exceeding Performance Expectations

Cognex announced its Q1 2015 earnings after market close on Monday, May 4th. The company reported quarterly revenues of $113 million, 84% (approximately $95 million) of which was attributed to its factory automation segment. Cognex reported that this year-over-year revenue increase occurred despite the global currency exchange rate fluctuations, which constituted a negative impact of approximately $7 million. RD&E and SG&A expenses reportedly grew faster than revenues this past quarter due primarily to growth investments including new product development and sales initiatives. Legal fees related to Cognex’s recently-resolved patent dispute with Microscan also contributed to this rise in expenses.

Cognex performed well on a year-over-year basis. Revenues increased by 25% since Q1 2014, which was attributed primarily to a 26% year-over-year increase in factory automation sales. This division also saw a 2% increase from Q4 2014. Sequential increases such as these are not typical of Q1, which is usually Cognex’s weakest quarter. Overall revenue and net income decreased sequentially by 3% and 23%, respectively. Operating expenses increased by 9% since Q4 2014 due to growth investments in both engineering and sales.

CEO Rob Willett reported that Cognex well exceeded its long-term target for factory automation revenue growth in Europe, which was 20%. 38% of revenues this quarter came from Europe, more than any other geographic region including the Americas. Asia, excluding Japan, was Cognex’s best-performing region this quarter in terms of percentage growth; factory automation revenue grew more than 50% year-over-year, which came primarily from increased demand for machine vision from factories in Greater China. Severe pricing pressures, escalating labor costs, and slowing economic growth are all prompting Chinese manufacturers to ramp up their investments in automation solutions to enable them to sustain their competitive edge. The struggling factory automation market in Japan is also dwindling due to the weaker yen; revenue in this region declined in the low teens as compared to Q1 2014.

Cognex reported a 75% gross margin and 21% operating margin, down from the 77% and 25% respectively, in Q1 2014. The decline in gross margin was attributed to volume pricing discounts on large orders and a shift in revenue mix to relatively lower margin maintenance and support services. Operating margins are expected to improve as the year progresses.

On Thursday, April 30th, a New York federal jury decided that Cognex owes Microscan $4.4 million for infringing a barcode patent, a year after a different jury awarded Cognex $2.6 million for Microscan’s alleged infringement of another barcode patent (see here). With this latest dispute, Microscan alleged that Cognex’s DataMan imagers (7500, 8500, and other variants) infringed upon one of Microscan’s existing patents, titled, “Optical symbol scanner with low angle illumination.” The jury found that Cognex infringed on all three asserted patent claims despite Cognex’s assertion that these claims were invalid. Microscan collected royalty damages for past infringement. Cognex spent a total of approximately $1 million this quarter in relation to this lawsuit.

Cognex’s outlook for the remainder of 2015 is positive. The business has generated substantial momentum, generating large orders from consumer electronics manufacturers (like Apple), large retailers, and logistics service providers. From where the company stands today with respect to its sales pipeline, Cognex does expect Q2 and Q3 2015 to be the largest revenue quarters. The company expects a 30% sequential revenue increase in Q2 amounting to $152-157 million. Gross margin is expected to stay in the mid-70% range, only slightly lower than Q1. Operating expenses are expected to increase by approximately 5% sequentially to support further investments in growth areas. However, revenues are projected to grow at a much faster rate than expenses for the full year, which could lead to potential improvement in operating margins for 2015.

04/23/2015

Taking a Wide-Angle View of the AIDC World in 2015 – VDC’s View on Themes that will Pave the Way for the Future

In the past year, VDC has undertaken some rather interesting projects, helping our clients identify new target markets (regional and vertical) and exciting new opportunities to help promote business growth both now and in the future. Our April 2015 VDC View highlights some of the most interesting and pressing opportunities for AutoID technology vendors, distributors and end users.

  • The warehouse of the future – An explosion in e-commerce sales volumes has retailers and service providers scrambling to get their technology infrastructure up to date. The ability to enhance supply chain efficiencies and lower costs associated with product shipment and delivery will drive increased investments in warehouse automation with a strong focus on newer data capture technologies like camera-based imagers, wearable devices, and augmented reality solutions.
  • Big data-driven decision-making – Big data is a topic generating significant interest among AIDC industry veterans. Information vital to accurate business decision-making can be found not only in transactional data collection methods but even more so via data capture solutions like scanners, imagers, machine vision systems, and disparate sensors. In many ways, these data capture solutions today are facilitating the big data and Internet of Things (IoT) phenomena that then help streamline operational processes. VDC believes AIDC vendors with the ability to provide their largest customers with guidance and direction in analyzing and presenting big data in a meaningful way will be most successful in the future.
  • Mobile scanning transforming AIDC market – Vendors such as Honeywell (Captuvo sleds), Infinite Peripherals, KoamTac, Scandit, Socket Mobile, and Zebra Technologies (CS companion scanners product line) are taking the necessary steps toward building software-based data capture platforms or hardware-enabled solution sets that are fueling the mobile scanning revolution, particularly in retail and logistics environments. In 2015 and beyond, VDC expects success in the data capture market to be determined by these vendors’ ability to be adequately agile in their sales and marketing strategies, especially as enterprise-wide solution consistency, low TCOs, and higher ROIs become necessary.
  • China, an opportunity not to be missed – China is primed to become the world’s largest consumer market in 2015, taking the top spot from the United States. The country has seen remarkable growth in e-commerce with online shopping now accounting for 10% of total retail sales (transaction value upwards of $450 billion) and posting high double-digit growth rates, especially in tier-1 cities. Warehouse and logistics automation is now a key focus for retailers and service providers, which bodes well for AIDC vendors despite the bureaucratic challenges associated with such significant transitions. VDC strongly recommends data capture industry participants to initiate a relationship-building process with local Chinese systems integrators and service providers in order to adequately begin to serve this burgeoning market.

This past year has brought about some exciting developments that are altering the AIDC space as we know it. For a fuller grasp of these AutoID industry themes, read the entire VDC View here.

03/27/2015

Digimarc Barcode - The Next Big Thing for Retail?

Word about Digimarc’s digital watermark for consumer products or the “invisible barcode” as they’re calling it, is starting to get around. A technology company based in Oregon, Digimarc is renowned for its digital watermarking and identification solutions used in global currency, government IDs, television, and publishing. The company is now focused on expanding its presence into the retail front-of-store with its barcode alternative. Without getting too technical, Digimarc takes a traditional UPC barcode, makes it invisible to the naked eye, and puts it all over the packaging of a product. The camera-based imager being used to scan the items at the front-end of a retail store quickly picks up this imperceptible digital information and allows the check-out process to be completed in record breaking times. Digimarc claims that this new technology not only clears up space on the product label, but also increases check-out efficiency thereby enabling retailers to significantly increase revenues and enhance operational efficiencies at the front-of-store. Digimarc is committed to transforming customer experience at the retail front-of-store. At the starting price of $400 per SKU (with an additional maintenance fee of $50 per year), they look to provide outstanding ROI to any retailer deciding to use this new technology.

At the 2014 NRF event, Digimarc announced its partnership with Datalogic, the global market leader in the stationary point-of-sale scanner segment. Datalogic first integrated the technology to scan Digimarc’s invisible barcodes into their Magellan 9800i multi-plane imager. Since then, Datalogic has extended the ability to capture information off Digimarc barcodes onto every imager they currently sell across both stationary as well as handheld form factors. When retail companies purchase these imagers from Datalogic, utilizing the features to scan Digimarc barcodes will be as easy as “flipping a switch.”

Wegmans, a popular large-scale grocery store chain, was Digimarc’s first retail customer. Being a Datalogic customer, Wegmans has started by incorporating the Digimarc barcode onto its private label brands, which its in-store imagers are now fully equipped to read. Although the retailer won’t release specific statistical performance data, it claims that it has added “a lot of value” to its front-of-store operations. At the 2015 NRF convention, the Digimarc booth had a representative from Wegmans endorsing Digimarc’s technology – a clear indication that Wegmans is satisfied with the performance of these invisible barcodes, and that it is adding value to the grocery stores.

From a quick glance at Digimarc, it looks like the company is on its way to success and profitability. However, VDC sees the company facing some challenges as well along the road. A sharp decline in one of their largest sources of revenue (licenses) has had a significant impact on Digimarc’s financial performance. 2014 was also the year when Digimarc spent more than 50% of its overall revenues on R&D to enhance and the support the launch of its Digimarc Barcode product, among others. This had a material impact on the company’s share price, which has gone down more than 30% from a year-ago period. VDC believes the company will alleviate these financial challenges in time as revenues from Digimarc Barcode and other products offset the decline in licensing sales. In the near-term, a bigger challenge for the company is the relative under-penetration of camera-based imagers at the retail POS for facilitating check-out within high-volume environments. For the moment, Digimarc has only one large scale retail customer, which brings to the forefront the challenges associated with bringing to market a potentially revolutionary product identification solution. In addition, VDC also expects numerous retailers to ask the question “Is there a need for this technology?” Sure, it has been proven that this technology will offer a good ROI overtime but large retail and CPG companies, and even packagers have to run their own cost benefit analysis to figure out if the invisible barcode is worth the investment.

As with anything, it is definitely possible to overcome these above-mentioned challenges. Digimarc has to continue to prove that their technology is revolutionary and that it will transform, perhaps forever, the front-of-store experience. It will gain increased consideration once retailers and CPG companies (and their packagers) are able to quantify the value that the Digimarc Barcode will add to their business. Until then, Digimarc has to continue to play the waiting game.

Stay tuned for VDC’s deeper dive on Digimarc and its Invisible Barcode, which will be published next month.

With Alex Bailey, Research Assistant

03/19/2015

Zebra Technologies 2014 Earnings Snapshot

Yesterday, Zebra Technologies announced its 2014 Q4 and full year earnings. It was notably the first quarter since the acquisition in which Motorola Solutions’ Enterprise business unit was integrated with the company. VDC’s qualitative analysis of the most compelling comments made by the Zebra leadership team in the earnings call can be found in yesterday’s blog. This post will discuss some of the key AIDC-centric highlights from the call.

  • The company reported total GAAP sales of $791 million, $315 million of which was attributed to Zebra Technologies and $476 million to the company’s new Enterprise segment during the two months of 2014 that Zebra owned it. Treasurer and VP Investor Relations Douglas A. Fox reported high gross margins and an adjusted EBITDA margin of 18.2% for Q4. Fox also stated that high operating expenses could be largely attributed to $66 million in acquisition and restructuring costs from the Enterprise segment. Zebra expects Q1 2015 net sales to fall within the $870 to $890 million range.
  • Zebra’s CEO Anders Gustafsson stated that this quarter brought a 14% sequential increase in pro forma sales from the Enterprise segment. The company’s printer segment also grew substantially, with increases in mobile and tabletop sales as well as record shipments of desktop printers. The supplies segment, which includes media consumables, also experienced record sales.
  • Gustafsson notes in the call that 2014 was a year of expansion for Zebra’s data capture business segment, penetrating the market for 2D imagers in addition to laser scanners. The MP6000 bioptic imager is specifically mentioned as a popular product among customers for its productivity and cost savings. 2014 also brought an addition of 12 new printer offerings dedicated primarily to mobility, healthcare and RFID encoding.
  • Gustafsson concluded his prepared remarks with Zebra’s business direction and goals for 2015. Such objectives included further penetration into the supplies segment and integration of the Enterprise segment to ultimately achieve $150 million in cost synergies. A notable 2015 business opportunity highlighted by Zebra leadership was cross-selling; for example, Zebra was able to provide one large printer customer in North America with an additional 1,600 mobile computers and over 500 scanners.
  • In the Q&A portion of the call, the transition from laser to 2D imager was discussed. Gustafsson noted that the acquisition of Motorola’s Enterprise segment does not change Zebra’s views on scanning technology. According to Gustafsson, 1D laser will continue to be the historical, traditional scanner; however, demand for increased functionality has been influencing a migration to 2D imager in all vertical markets. This migration is reflected in the growth of Zebra’s imager segment.
  • Integrated solutions stood out as a key takeaway in the Q&A segment. Senior VP of Sales Joachim Heel noted that the Zebra sales force will this year begin intensive training to effectively integrate Motorola Solutions’ Enterprise products with Zebra printers. Heel is confident that this level of cross-selling would have a positive impact in 2015.

The call ended in a positive tone, reflecting Zebra leadership’s confidence in its market standing as well as optimism about business opportunities for 2015.

 

With Kelly Brown, Research Assistant

03/16/2015

VDC Research-Loftware Present Joint Webinar on Enterprise Labeling

On Thursday, March 26th, VDC’s Richa Gupta will co-present a webinar with Loftware’s Josh Roffman, Vice President Marketing and Product Management, where they will discuss why labeling is a strategic imperative in today’s global supply chains. This presentation is a follow-up to the comprehensive white paper co-authored by the two firms in December, titled “Enterprise Labeling – A Supply Chain Strategic Imperative”. You can download this special report here.

Webinar attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the many benefits associated with enterprise labeling including the ability to easily address organizations’ diverse and highly variable labeling requirements, comply with complex labeling mandates and regulations, and provide the speed and scalability to support global supply chains.

Topics discussed in the webinar include:

  • What is Enterprise Labeling?
  • How has labeling become a mission-critical component in today’s global supply chain?
  • Approaches for addressing global labeling challenges

REGISTER NOW for this informative webinar.

Thursday, March 26th – 1pm EST (12noon CST, 10am PST)

02/06/2015

Here’s what makes Datalogic’s latest partnership with NCR interesting

On February 3, data capture industry veteran Datalogic announced that it has entered into a multi-year agreement with retail solutions behemoth NCR Corporation for the supply of its Jade X7™ Automated Scanner. I have seen these at the NRF show – designed to facilitate automated scanning and checkout at high-volume retail locations. The products are placed on a moving conveyor belt in any orientation, and are then scanned by multiple array imagers as they move through a “tunnel,” easing the checkout process for both the attendant/cashier as well as the customer.

NCR will be integrating Datalogic’s Jade X7 into its ScanPortal™, which will be showcased at EuroCIS in Germany toward the end of this month. With an aim to free the cashier from having to scan individual items, this option is expected to yield significantly higher checkout speeds while also promoting extensive customer engagement. NCR brings its integration and POS solution design expertise into this partnership, and also leverages Datalogic’s credentials as the leader in the fixed-position or hands-free POS scanner market. The fully integrated solution’s launch at the European retail technology-centric show also lays emphasis on the region’s continued need for technology enablers that will help trim down high labor-related costs and thereby have a positive impact on overall profitability margins. That said, this solution is also generating interest in the US market as well.

What makes this announcement especially interesting to me is its potential impact on the competitive landscape for stationary POS scanners, if any. While the two companies are essentially neck-and-neck when it comes to bioptic scanner hardware revenues per our most recent report on the POS scanner market (download Executive Brief here), this partnership could open the doors for a deeper and more comprehensive collaboration in the future that extends beyond barcode scanning and data capture. Datalogic has a very strong relationship with one of NCR’s biggest competitors, European retail automation solutions provider Wincor Nixdorf – a company that has already designed checkout stations around this “tunnel” scanner.

I believe NCR will benefit from this partnership with Datalogic especially as it looks to better address the in-store automation demands of its retail customers in US and Europe (including Tesco), as discussed earlier. Although Datalogic and NCR cannot necessarily share a rapport similar to that between the former and Wincor, there is significant opportunity here for the two organizations to collectively redefine the retail point-of-sale, particularly in the Americas – with NCR capitalizing on Datalogic’s imaging expertise, and Datalogic leveraging NCR’s proficiency in designing and building the ultimate checkout experience for retail customers.

01/14/2015

NRF 2015 Musings – Is the show far too out of touch with reality?

I am back from spending an interesting couple of days at the NRF Expo in New York City. This annual event is, of course, all about retail. It is all about vendors showcasing technologies and solution capabilities that ease retailers’ everyday operations, helping them get their products to the right customer at the right time and the right price. Omnichannel has been an industry buzzword for several years at this point and one that several vendors showcasing their products at this forum have latched on to. Retailing today has morphed into something that places just as much importance to the distribution center and logistics partner as it does to the retail store. Why, then, were warehouse automation solution providers like Dematic, KNAPP AG, and Swisslog missing from the show floor? Why was Intelligrated the only material handling company with a booth at the show? Is the event doing enough to attract the attention of logistics service providers like FedEx and UPS that are now integral to customers’ shopping experience?

The NRF event is held annually right when statistics from the holiday shopping season start rolling in. While these numbers from a few years ago may have been all about in-store stocking and inventory management, foot traffic at the malls, and consumer spending, the discussion now centers on retailers’ and logistics providers’ ability to fulfill online orders on time. There is also a need to talk more about returns management, especially after the holiday shopping season. As has been widely reported, both FedEx and UPS, along with the retailers they service, faced significant consumer backlash during the 2013 holiday shopping season as order deliveries were marked by considerable delays. Businesses were simply not prepared for the surge of online orders and freight volumes that flooded their ecommerce and delivery networks. VDC considers it imperative for such issues to take center stage at the biggest and most important retail event of all.

All said and done, this show continues to do one thing well. And that is having the critical discussion around retail shopfloor performance optimization – from a technology standpoint, pricing perspective, for planogramming, and generating analytics that help define consumer behavior. I believe there is a need to do more so NRF doesn’t lose its way and get too far out of touch with reality, for which the following are our top recommendations:

  • Do not equate the retail distribution center to the “back office” It is important to not let the show be only about in-store technologies, inventory management, and business intelligence. The way the consumer shopping trends are shaping up, retailers would much rather see how solution providers can now support with their demand fulfillment requirements – both online and offline – while also helping them achieve their strategic goals and objectives for this fast-changing landscape.
  • Make the show attractive for companies like Amazon.com, JD.com, and Alibaba to attend This is probably my biggest critique of the show. What is this event doing today to attract some of the world’s largest e-commerce retailers? Is a retail-focused show in the US really successful if it cannot attract Amazon.com?
  • Engage material handling solution providers and their logistics customers The show needs to move beyond the “omnichannel” catchphrase to something that’s more all-inclusive because not only is it about where a customer places their order from, but also about how retailers fulfill the same in collaboration with their partners who are now critical to the overall retail ecosystem. Warehouse and logistics automation are themes that are not addressed nearly enough at this show.

While it is not going to be possible to bring about such change in the near term, I hope this is something show organizers give considerable thought to especially as they look to keep it relevant and also attract a broader global audience. I will be posting another blog on some of what I did see and learn about at the show from a data capture market perspective. Stay tuned!

12/19/2014

Honeywell Gobbles Up Yet another AutoID Industry Veteran

Honeywell signed a definitive agreement to acquire Datamax-O’Neil (D-O) on December 18, 2014 for $185 million, with the transaction expected to close in the first quarter of 2015 subject to regulatory approval. Ok, so we knew D-O was a prime acquisition target (see our blog). But, we did not see this coming, having expected Datalogic to snap up the company all along. Honeywell acquired Intermec Technologies in a similar end-of-the-year deal back in 2012, and we have since speculated what their plans were for the company’s printer business, both in our reports as well as blogs. This latest acquisition only serves to cement Honeywell’s commitment to the barcode printer market.

D-O has successfully competed against the likes of Zebra and Intermec for several years now, carving its own niche in the manufacturing and logistics markets. However, the company has seen significant sales growth slowdown in the past 24 months, with its 2013 performance in the printer market staying relatively flat as compared to 2012. To combat the trend, this division of the highly diversified manufacturing conglomerate Dover Corporation, has also focused its efforts on a broad-based reorganization of its top management, as is evident by the company’s recent appointments to head up its Stationary Printers, Portable Printers, ad Supplies business units. VDC believes D-O’s executive management deemed it necessary to make these changes as it was faced by revenue stagnation while also underperforming the overall market. This had a negative impact on its R&D spending and product development, which have been D-O’s strong suit in the highly commoditized printer market. Being a part of a broader AutoID-focused organization could certainly help the company achieve its growth targets.

While this acquisition unquestionably strengthens Honeywell’s printer and supplies portfolios, the company has its work cut out for it as it looks to integrate the D-O brand into its own, a task Honeywell is very well-versed with. Will it follow an approach similar to the one it has going for Intermec’s printer line (Intermec by Honeywell)? Or will we see D-O’s offerings fully integrated with Intermec given the similar markets that these brands target? We will know soon enough.

11/21/2014

Big Data Driven Decision Making – Brought to you by AutoID Solutions

Big data is a topic generating significant interest among AIDC industry veterans. Barcoding technology is making a wealth of information available to organizations. Defined generally, big data is simply a set of data too large to be stored and managed using traditional processes. Oracle breaks down big data into three general categories: traditional enterprise data, social data, and machine-generated and/or sensor data. Data capture technology contributes to the collection of this third category of data—machine-generated data – especially in retail, logistics, and supply chain environments.

This generic definition does not identify the specific advantages that big data brings to the supply chain. Big data is important in the modern connected world as the collection of ‘nontraditional’ data increases; information vital to accurate business decision-making can be found not only in transactional data collection methods, but even more so in imagers, machine vision, sensors, and scanners. The machines that produce these nontraditional data sets are now more than ever connected to one another in what is called the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT allows for continuous, real-time data transactions between devices such as barcode scanners and mobile computers.

In many ways, data capture solutions are facilitating the big data phenomenon that then helps streamline operational processes. For example, FedEx’s SenseAware platform combines location solutions (GPS) with temperature readings and real-time notifications if a shipment has been opened or exposed to light. FedEx is able to analyze these data sets in order to rectify inefficiencies that would have been left unidentified had the data not been available. The IoT uses AIDC technology to provide continuous real-time data in all parts of the supply chain, facilitating optimization. When combined with big-data-driven platforms such as SenseAware, scanners and sensors can be used to assure visibility, traceability and quality control at all steps in the supply chain. These traits contribute to successful short-term and long-term business decisions.

There are undoubtedly challenges in managing big data, particularly with respect to AIDC technology. Data capture is not the same concept now as it was ten years ago. What started out as just barcode scanning has now evolved into capturing a variety of nontraditional data types. Solution providers have to work twice as much to live up to expectations as clients place frequent demands for multipurpose scanners and software that support a range of data capture functions, not limited to simple track-and-trace. This leads into the next challenge that participants in the supply chain face. Big data is only as useful as the way in which it is analyzed and presented; so, how does one integrate all of these vastly different types of data sets together in a meaningful way?

For end users, the issue (and the solution) is in the analytics. Companies such as FedEx are now hiring ‘data scientists.’ These professionals specialize in analyzing and presenting big data in a way that contributes to effective decision-making. Any firm seeking to use big data to its advantage will need to invest in a specified team of data scientists for this purpose.

The future of the AIDC market will depend on participants’ ability to address these prevalent issues head-on. As data volume and variety are continuously increasing, it is no longer enough for a scanner to read a barcode. Data capture solutions providers will need to innovate and make investments in solution development that goes beyond hardware in order to meet increasing demands of today’s connected, big-data-driven IoT world.

(By Kelly Brown, Research Assistant)

 

Recent Posts

Zebra Technologies’ Stock Pops; Company Soars to New Highs

Cognex - Consistently Breaking Records, Exceeding Performance Expectations

Taking a Wide-Angle View of the AIDC World in 2015 – VDC’s View on Themes that will Pave the Way for the Future

Digimarc Barcode - The Next Big Thing for Retail?

Zebra Technologies 2014 Earnings Snapshot

VDC Research-Loftware Present Joint Webinar on Enterprise Labeling

Here’s what makes Datalogic’s latest partnership with NCR interesting

NRF 2015 Musings – Is the show far too out of touch with reality?

Honeywell Gobbles Up Yet another AutoID Industry Veteran

Big Data Driven Decision Making – Brought to you by AutoID Solutions

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