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The Visible Value Blog

Welcome to a place where you can connect and learn.

When you think Zebra, you may think of printers, but we're so much more than that. A leader in developing solutions that feature barcode, RFID and RTLS technologies, Zebra converts the physical into the digital to give assets, people and transactions a virtual voice. When you have more visibility, you can drive more value.

In this blog, we will:

  • Break down the basics of the Internet of Things (IoT) and how our connected world is making a big impact on how we work and play
  • Cover all the latest trends in visibility technology, like barcoding, RFID and RTLS, across many industries
  • Give you a closer look at the latest news and solutions from Zebra

If you're looking for something specific on the blog, you can narrow your experience by region, vertical or subject and by subscribing, you can be notified when we share new content.

So join us and be a part of the conversation!

 

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Tim Dreyer

Recent Posts

Forget Fuel, Hybrid Digital Signage Kiosks Deliver ROI Efficiency

Posted by Tim Dreyer September 15, 2011 at 3:37 PM

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The kiosk market is on a healthy and steady growth pattern. Earlier this spring, BCC Research came out with a report that the market for self-service kiosk deployments should continue at a 9.3% clip through 2015 with an estimated market deployment size of 2.5 million units. At the same time, the digital signage market appears to be coming out of the lull it experienced in 2008-2009. Global Industry Analysts, Inc. reported last month that they are forecasting the digital signage market to reach $13.8 billion by 2017. Interestingly, the report cites kiosk/digital signage hybrids as one of the drivers of that growth.

Hybrids allow for multi-purpose functionality, increasing both the use and effectiveness for the kiosk owner. The digital signage can provide news and entertainment in addition to branding and promotional messaging while the kiosk component can provide transactional functionality such as catalog ordering, loyalty program management, price checking, etc. The dual use allows for both to be operational simultaneously, creating broader impact and stronger ROI.

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Topics: Retail, APAC, North America, Latin America, EMEA

Zebra Bullish on Active and Passive RFID: An Interview with RFID Journal

Posted by Tim Dreyer August 17, 2011 at 12:28 PM

Posted By Mark Roberti 

On Monday, Aug. 15, Zebra Technologies celebrated the 20th anniversary of its initial public offering by ringing the opening bell of the NASDAQ stock exchange. Afterward, Mike Terzich, Zebra's senior VP for global sales and marketing, sat down with me for an interview about the company's RFID strategy. 

Zebra made several acquisitions in the RFID market a few years ago, including the purchase of Multispectral Solutions, WhereNet (see Zebra Buys WhereNet), Proveo and Navis (see Zebra Buys Navis, Proveo), though Zebra subsequently sold Navis toCargotec Corp. (see RFID News Roundup: Zebra Divests Navis and Parts of WhereNet). Terzich spoke about the core RFID printer business, as well as how these acquisitions fit in with the overall company strategy. Below are excerpts from the interview. 

Roberti: How is the RFID business doing? 
Terzich: Our RFID business has multiple dimensions, because we have both passive and active RFID solutions. RFID is a small piece of our overall business, but it's growing and there is empirical evidence that some applications are taking root. The industry has overcome the technical hurdles, and companies are smarter now about how they want to deploy RFID systems. We are seeing more closed-loop applications that drive business benefits. I would say we are seeing steady progression in business, and interest in both the active and passive side. 

Roberti: Apparel is one area that is seeing a lot of interest in RFID systems. How does Zebra play in that market? 
Terzich: Small producers could use our tabletop printers to print labels and tag garments, but where we see the real opportunity is in the store. Sometimes a garment made in Asia arrives without a tag, or a tag is pulled off or falls off after the garment is put on the sales floor. We have stationary and mobile devices that can print RFID labels for retagging applications. We see a real opportunity with items with complex SKUs, because tag costs have come down to the point where retagging an item costs less than 10 cents per tag. It makes sense for retailers. 

Roberti: Where are you seeing growth in the RFID business? 
Terzich: On the active side, we're seeing interest in personnel-safety applications on oil rigs and in mines. In these applications, people wear an active RFID tag, so you can do a quick scan of who is accounted for during an emergency and quickly locate those who have not made it out of a facility. Active is also picking up in automotive, where you have high-value goods moving through the production process. You can put a reusable tag on transmissions, engine blocks and other big components and see exactly where they are in real time in the product process. 

The economic environment is also driving interest in RFID. Retailers understand that sales aren't growing rapidly, and they need to retain customers. RFID enables them to have the product on the shelf when customers come in, and you get efficiencies by taking inventory rapidly with RFID. 

Ports are another opportunity. Our port system in the United States is very antiquated. The amount of goods moving through the marine terminals is constrained. Queue times are lengthening, and that affects companies that have moved to just-in-time inventory. And the ability to know what's in those containers is somewhat limited, so security needs are fueling interest in RFID. 

Roberti: In 2004 and 2006, Zebra purchased some 200 RFID patents from BTG for $10 million.[See Zebra Set to Expand Its Footprint in RFID Space.] Did any specific products or product features come out of that deal? 
Terzich: I don't know if any specific products were tied to those patents, though our next-generation passive RFID solutions have some interesting capabilities. We looked at that patent portfolio as leverage to utilize as we extended further into the RFID industry. That portfolio gave us the ability to cross-license with other companies that have patents we might want to employ. 

Roberti: In 2007, Zebra purchased Multispectral Solutions, Navis, Proveo and WhereNet. Why did you eventually decide to divest Navis? 
Terzich: Navis provides the ERP software for marine terminals. We had a vision that we would take this application to other industries. What we found is that it was not well constructed to do that. It does well in the space it's in, but it represented a risk to try to adapt the Navis platform for other industries. The divestiture didn't deter us from our main goal, which was to build the ability to manage more complex supply chains. 

What we are trying to do strategically is give voice to data. There is a progression. Years ago, in the bar-coding space, you wanted to know "what is it?" It's a box. The bar code answers the question of what it is. With RFID, you start the migration from "what is it?" to "where is it?" to "what is it doing?" We don't provide the complete solution, but we enable the solution to deliver the data. We are a transporter of useful of information. 

Roberti: What is the strategy for growing your company's active-RFID asset-tracking division—Zebra Enterprise Solutions? 
Terzich: The name ZES is going away, and the solutions will be part of the company's complete offering. But in the active space, we are focused on three areas-automotive/industrial, processes industries, such as oil and gas, and government. Our goal is to go deeper into those industries and to work with our existing customers on new applications. 

Roberti: How important is RFID to the company's future? 
Terzich: Very important. The one thing we learned is our portfolio needs to have a variety of technologies. The driver is the portfolio. Bar code will remain core to our business, but depending on the asset you want to track, you will likely want to use active or passive RFID to manage the assets. 
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Topics: RFID, Retail, RTLS, Government, APAC, North America, Latin America, EMEA

Zebra's NASDAQ Opening Bell Ringing 8/15/2011

Posted by Tim Dreyer August 17, 2011 at 9:28 AM


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Topics: RFID, APAC, North America, Latin America, EMEA

Kiosk Cleanup in Aisle Four: Minimizing Kiosk Downtime Means Maximizing Peak Sell Time

Posted by Tim Dreyer July 7, 2011 at 7:22 PM

Out of Service resized 600In the past decade, personal technology has increasingly become a part of our everyday lives and retailers are tapping into our behavior as they look for ways to better reach their customers. One of these ways, according to a recent study by Aberdeen, is how retailers are focusing on technology related to consumer empowerment.

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Topics: Retail, APAC, North America, Latin America, EMEA

Rising export rates are good news for freight

Posted by Tim Dreyer July 5, 2011 at 10:09 AM

shipping containers resized 600U.S. exports of goods and services reached a record breaking total of $175.6 billion this April, with exports of goods at a $124.4 billion increase and services at a $48.9 billion increase, as reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the U.S. Commerce Department.

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Topics: Supply Chain, RFID, APAC, North America, Latin America, EMEA

Power Smart Print Technology: Saves energy. Reduces costs. That’s Smart.

Posted by Tim Dreyer June 17, 2011 at 9:49 AM

As more industries are beginning to strengthen green initiatives, there is an increasing need for new technology that is energy efficient yet affordable. 

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Topics: Mobility, Retail, APAC, North America, Latin America, EMEA

Self Service Goes Wireless

Posted by Tim Dreyer May 25, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Being able to reach consumers at any time, anywhere has become increasingly important to businesses trying to remain competitive in the current economy. The popularity of smart phones and tablets that are always connected to the online world have paved the way for businesses to do this, and now other technologies are beginning to latch on to this trend. New and innovative kiosk solutions that are able to communicate through a wireless connection such as the ConnectNow Kiosk from Zebra partner OpenMotion, are able to tie communications consumers receive outside the store to their in-store experience.describe the image

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Topics: Retail, APAC, North America, Latin America, EMEA

Anyone Seen My Hammer? Using RFID for High Asset Tool Tracking Brings Big Results

Posted by Tim Dreyer May 23, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Reporting critical manufacturing information in real-time throughout their facilities is critical for manufacturers who are looking to squeeze as much process efficiency as possible in their operations. Accurate, timely and accessible data allows for quick, informed decisions that increase productivity and save costs.

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Topics: RFID, Manufacturing, APAC, North America, Latin America, EMEA

RXi4 is a Stevie's People's Choice Award Finalist!

Posted by Tim Dreyer May 13, 2011 at 1:32 PM

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Topics: Supply Chain, RFID, APAC, North America, Latin America, EMEA

Nursing Informaticists Playing Larger Role in Hospital Technology

Posted by Tim Dreyer May 5, 2011 at 5:17 PM

As companies and healthcare service providers begin to deploy more mobile, user friendly technology into nursing informatics, nurses are developing the necessary technology skill sets to adapt to the new tools and techniques in the healthcare space.

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Topics: Mobility, Healthcare, APAC, North America, Latin America, EMEA