When Jason Low joined Zebra in 2011, the Philippine Digital Strategy (PDS) was just being launched by the country’s Department of Science and Technology. The vision?
“A digitally empowered, innovative, globally competitive and prosperous society where everyone has reliable, affordable and secure information access in the Philippines. A government that practices accountability and excellence to provide responsive online citizen-centered services. A thriving knowledge economy through public-private partnership.”
Fast forward to today and you’ll find an eagerness by both the private and public sectors to take this vision to the next level. “Digital determination” is what research firm IDC calls it.
To help you gain a better understanding of how technology utilization ambitions are evolving, we asked Jason to share some of the feedback he is hearing from Zebra’s customers and partners as well as his own observations since assuming the role of Zebra’s country advisor to the Philippines in Q1 2020.
Your Edge Blog Team: What do you believe are the biggest business/economic challenges facing the Philippines right now, and what advice would you give organizations trying to navigate them?
Jason: Asia, including the Philippines, is seeing good growth potential. However, until recently, the business operations have been managed manually. This has made it challenging for enterprises to keep pace with demand and competitive growth. Therefore, it is important that organizations quickly embrace new technology that will give them with a competitive edge.
Your Edge Blog Team: According to IDC predictions, it is estimated that at least 30 percent of companies across the Philippines are set to transform themselves through new, emerging technologies in the coming months. Which technologies do you expect to see organizations embrace most heavily in the near term and why?
Jason: More enterprises want to adopt technological solutions that can improve operational visibility and facilitate the delivery of actionable intelligence to their front lines to help them make business-critical decisions faster and more accurately. This has most definitely become a priority in the near term.
In fact, Zebra’s Intelligent Enterprise Index 2019 found that 61 percent of enterprises worldwide are on the path to becoming “intelligent,” compared to only 49 percent in 2018. This finding is aligned with the IDC predictions.
Your Edge Blog Team: Which technologies do you think will be part of the longer-term strategy for companies in the Philippines?
Jason: As the front lines of enterprises become increasingly connected via mobility and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, they will collect tremendous amounts of data about processes and assets that can be leveraged to transform workflows and subsequently improve business performance and outcomes.
But data doesn’t become truly valuable until it becomes actionable, and that can’t happen via manual aggregation and analysis – at least not fast enough or accurately enough. Enterprises will eventually need complete intelligence solutions that can automatically process the data captured from multiple sources and tell both business planners and front-line workers exactly what they must do – in real time – to fix or prevent a problem, find an item, fulfill an order or process a return to get an item back in inventory quickly. As such, technologies that enhance efficiency, increase accountability and drive front-line action such as RFID, blockchain, prescriptive analytics and intelligent automation will likely be considered by more organizations in the next several years. You will likely see machine learning, augmented reality and computer vision – or machine vision – applied in more expansive ways as well.
Your Edge Blog Team: Which sectors seem to be most aggressively investing in technology, and what do you think is driving this trend?
Jason: In the Philippines, the fastest growing sectors would have to be retail and transportation and logistics (T&L). This is primarily driven by the “I want it now” mentality of today’s customers thanks to the rise of e-commerce.
According to the APAC Future of Fulfillment Vision Study, e-commerce is growing at a staggering pace. It is projected to generate $4.479 trillion in retail sales by 2021, soaring over 140 percent from $1.859 trillion in 2016. That’s really impressive!
Your Edge Blog Team: Are there technologies that you think Filipino businesses should be utilizing on a broader scale than they are today? Or is there a particular technology that is not being considered but should?
Jason: There are many types of technological solutions that can be implemented by enterprises in the Philippines today.
For the retail sector, a good example would be mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) solutions like Zebra’s TC52 touch mobile computer or ET51 rugged tablet. These mPOS solutions offer more flexibility and personalization when associates are helping customers locate inventory, verify pricing, customize purchases or even pick up online orders. They also help to simplify the checkout process by scanning digital coupons and processing mobile payments.
This empowers front-line associates to control a deal from beginning to end, thereby enhancing the shopping experience and making it more personal and interactive, which is important to building customer loyalty.
The reduction or elimination of checkout waiting time will also meet consumers’ expectations in today's “now” economy, thereby adding more value during peak, high-traffic shopping periods or in situations like what we’re facing right now in which social distancing practices must be enforced. Because store associates with mPOS devices can be dispatched anywhere in the store, payments can be processed right at the point of consumers’ decisions versus making them queue in a checkout lane.
But that’s just one of the many examples of how technology solutions can be utilized on a greater scale. Mobile printers can help with fast labeling of almost anything from retail shelves to specimen vials, packages and even utility equipment prior to installation. They can also be used to produce receipts for customer purchases or service payments.
Your Edge Blog Team: Part of your new role as Philippines Country Advisor is to support Zebra’s local distributors and partners “in their delivery of industry-tailored solutions that provide the front line of enterprises with actionable insights to make business-critical decisions.” Can you elaborate on what that means? What goals do you have to improve channel support in the region?
Jason: As the newly appointed Country Advisory, I strive to help more enterprises in the Philippines make better, more informed business decisions about which technologies to deploy in order to quickly meet their goals and meet customer expectations.
With so many different technologies available in the market today, many of which promise to deliver similar results for certain industries or workflows, it can be difficult for companies to know which will actually be most effective in their unique operating environments. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution or a “standard” technology implementation when it comes to things such as enterprise mobility, RFID or even printing. You can’t just buy any label printer. There is a lot of thought that must go into the labeling application at hand before you can decide which printer you need. Are you printing barcode or RFID labels and are you labeling cardboard packages, metal parts or medical devices? And how many labels will you print every hour or day? It can get even more complex when you start looking at RFID solutions.
Of course, technology decisions can’t just be based on which hardware is best, either. Software and services must be considered from the start – sometimes even before hardware options. Fortunately, Zebra has quite an extensive portfolio of hardware, software, service and accessory solutions to cater to customers’ widely varying needs, and I’m proud to say that Zebra’s channel partners have a demonstrated track record of helping customers assess these needs, evaluate their options and ultimately deploy the most suitable solutions.
Of course, Zebra’s solution engineers and sales team work closely with our partners to deliver these industry-tailored solutions and ensure that customers’ front-line workers are receiving the actionable insights needed to make business-critical decisions.
Your Edge Blog Team: How will those (channel) efforts benefit Zebra’s customers?
Jason: With over 10,000 partners across 100 countries, Zebra works closely with our partners to understand what our customers truly need. By leveraging our partners’ in-country knowledge and Zebra’s 50+ years of experience in empowering the front line of various industries, we are able to consistently bring the best solutions to our customers.