When leading any new transformative initiative, the end is unclear and the journey is always an adventure. At Zebra we embarked on such a journey in 2012 when we launched MC40, the first Android Enterprise Rugged mobile computer. As we publish the End of Service notice for this flagship product this week, let's take a moment to take a look at the history of the MC40 and its place in the industry.
Technology and logistics are moving at a phenomenal pace, yet the warehouse work culture is still stuck in the past. Compared to the modern day office and spotlight on well-being, the warehouse is archaically depressing. Granted, it’s an industrial hub and not exactly a creative ad agency, but that doesn’t mean a welcoming and stimulating environment should be curbed. The warehouse team are responsible for shifting items from A to B on behalf of global brands so it’s important they are looked after just as much as the office-based departments at logistical giants and online retailers. That next day delivery the customer has been promised is partly in the hands of the warehouse employee scanning, swiping and screen tapping for hours on end.
All too often, a technical product is designed and tested based on a person bearing little resemblance to the intended end user. The solution may be deemed a success under test conditions, aesthetically pleasing and ‘on brand’, yet in practice the user experience can be frustrating, dysfunctional or even dangerous. With this in mind, I advocate that designing for disability should be the starting point for all great design, rather than an after-thought.
Until recently, augmented reality has been perceived as sci-fi or gimmicky, based on futuristic devices that seem just too advanced to play a practical role in everyday life. But it’s becoming prevalent in more and more industries, creating incredible insight for businesses and an enjoyable experience for customers.
AR is making waves in retail and fashion, from the cashier-less Amazon Go store in Seattle, to the animated wine bottle that can suggest what to have for dinner. I can see the next 12 months will be a really exciting time for store technology, as physical shops become as intuitive and efficient as online retailers. With over 85% of the UK population owning a smart phone, shoppers are already primed for the AR experience and ready to scan, snap, share and buy.
Make way for the fourth Industrial Revolution.
Following the dawn of steam power, mass production and IT, this dramatic era is characterised by the blurring of lines between the physical, digital and biological worlds. It’s both overwhelming and exciting at the same time. Pessimists warn of devastating job losses, the end of civil society as we know it and interference with Mother Nature to the point of no return. But history shows us that each Industrial Revolution has served to improve the way we work and live. I firmly believe this post-digital revolution is an amazing opportunity, if we harness technology and apply morals and ethics to product development. Rather than demotion and destruction by robots, this revolution will bring people worldwide closer together, fulfilled by rewarding careers and freedom.
On a recent trip to Johannesburg, stranded on the runway hearing the crushing words “delay”, I couldn’t quite get my head round why, in this day and age, with incredible intelligence and technology at our disposal we are still facing frustrations that were common 10 or even 20 years ago. We encounter problems or inconveniences everyday that are seemingly simple to solve, yet there often aren’t solutions on the market. Is this due to lack of innovation, funds or demand perhaps? Some solutions seem glaringly obvious to me.
So supermarkets need an efficient ordering and inventory management system.