Further view into the use cases and trends in various verticals pertaining to IoT. This interviews looks at retail, transportation, and healthcare.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by having you introduce yourself as well as Zebra.
Tom Bianculli: I oversee the technology office here at Zebra Technologies. My team incubates new opportunities that are adjacent to the existing portfolio in the company. I’m acting as an internal startup. We also work on advance development activities that require technology de-risking. We have a set of technical competencies that work on, what we call, Horizon 2 or Horizon 3 technologies ahead of their being adopted into the standard product roadmap.
The third component of what we have, which we find is really key, is a team of innovation and design folks that are comprised of a multi-disciplinary set of customer research, user experience, and physical design competencies. That team works to uncover opportunities directly with customers working in their environments. They are focused on experience-centred innovation, which has got a lot of press recently.
My background is primarily in Engineering. I worked on a number of Product Development Processes in Engineering and then I moved into a technology office at Symbol Technologies, which made barcode scanning and mobile computing equipment. In 2007, Symbol was acquired by Motorola and became an enterprise business arm within Motorola. In October of 2014, Zebra, which was essentially a billion-dollar company, made a $3.45 billion acquisition by buying the enterprise business out of Motorola. It was a big bet by Zebra.
They then added to their portfolio not just printing, but also mobile computing used in enterprise use cases, barcode scanning as well as wireless LAN. Across the whole portfolio of all those categories, we serve four main vertical markets: retail, manufacturing, transportation logistics, and healthcare. Retail is our largest vertical, representing 40% of our revenue. That’s a little bit about the past and present.
Sramana Mitra: I’d like to understand what is your IoT business. What do you do? Which customers do you cater to and how?
Tom Bianculli: The organisation is moving from what we call enterprise mobility to a new category called Enterprise Asset Intelligence (EAI). At the heart of EAI is IoT. There are three main pillars to EAI – Sense, Analyse, and Act. The notion behind Sense is to sense data at the edge of our customer’s networks, gather that data, and aggregate that in the cloud. Then we analyse data.
Based on the insights we get from that data, we drive some next best actions. The IoT strategy for the company is IoT applied to our vertical markets. That’s what we call EAI. The fundamental premise there is that, for our customers, the next wave of productivity in our market is coming from closing visibility gaps that they currently have. The only way you can do that is instrument people in the environment, instrument the environment themselves, instrument the capital assets with sensing capability. That’s the IoT part of it. It just doesn’t stop with connecting the data to the Internet. It’s about analyzing that data and then driving the appropriate next best action.