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By Drew Ehlers | July 06, 2022

We Might Not Know What the Future Holds, But We’ll Innovate ‘Til We Get There

Amid unrelenting disruption and change, we’re thankful for one constant: our community of employees, customers and partners who continue to show the world what’s possible.

As I mentioned back in 2019, my role as Global Futurist is not to predict what will happen but instead to ideate what could happen and how best to prepare. One great example of this is the pandemic and the slew of disruption to follow. While we might not have had an infectious disease in our five-year plans, we did predict our customers would need to establish a future-scalable technology foundation. 

In this challenging environment, every aspect of business is being put to the test. It almost feels as if navigating today while preparing ourselves for tomorrow has transitioned from a 5-point grading scale to pass/fail – in other words, there’s a lot more on the line. Stagnation is not the answer.

At Zebra, one of our core values is Innovation. Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat.” Like Steve Jobs, we believe that championing bold ideas and challenging the status quo is what will help our customers and advance our business. 

While I don’t have a crystal ball to prove my hypothesis, I do predict Zebra Nation – our customers, partners, suppliers and employees – will continue to innovate toward a brighter, more efficient and sustainable future. Our perseverance and boldness through disruption will get us to the next level, even in a pass/fail scenario.

How can I predict this? Well, I pause to reflect on all we’ve achieved through two years of unprecedented and rapid evolution. 

Firstly, we are proud of our customers who were celebrated earlier this year for their leadership and exemplary use of technology to manage through change, including:

We are also proud of our employees, partners and suppliers, who have helped us continue to bring innovative, game-changing solutions to market:

  • Zebra won iF Design Awards in Product Design for the ZSB Series SOHO printer, CS60 Series companion scanner and RFD40 UHF RFID sled. Additionally, the Aurora™ machine vision software won an award in User Experience, and the ZSB Series label printer won an award in User Interface.

  • The Zebra suite of machine vision smart cameras and fixed industrial scanners, with the Zebra Aurora™ software platform, was selected as the "Industrial IoT Solution of the Year” by IoT Breakthrough. The machine vision and fixed scanning suite was also recognized as an “Industrial IoT Product of the Year” in the IoT Evolution Awards and with a Vision Systems Design Bronze Innovators Award.

  • MedTech Breakthrough Awards named the Zebra TC52ax-HC healthcare mobile computer the "Best Overall mHealth Solution."

  • Zebra’s PartnerConnect program was awarded a 5-star rating in the 2022 Partner Program Guide by CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company. 

  • Zebra was recognized by Lowe’s Companies, Inc. as "2022 Strategic Partner of the Year" at the Lowe’s Technology Vendor Summit. 

  • Zebra received The Connected Supply Chain Award for "most effective use of E2open’s end-to-end platform and network, E2net” in the E2Open CONNECT 2022 Client Awards.

  • Zebra won Red Dot Awards for Product Design for the ZSB Series SOHO printer and the CS60 Series companion scanner.

  • Zebra was recognized by Nucleus Research as a Leader in the 2022 Workforce Management (WFM) Technology Value Matrix for the fourth consecutive year. 

  • In the 2022 Retail CIO Radar by Retail Today, Zebra and antuit.ai were recognized in the “Merchandising” category, and Zebra was recognized in the “Robotic Fulfillment” category. 

  • The China-based IoT Star Awards honored the ZT411 industrial printer with an award in the category of “Innovative Products.”

Of course, none of this would be possible without the individuals who work so hard to ensure we are meeting our customers’ expectations, including:

Nor would collaborative innovation be possible without strong company leadership, a great workplace culture, and a commitment to lead by example:

  • Forbes ranked Zebra #79 among the top 500 midsize employers in its annual list of America’s Best Employers. This marks our sixth consecutive year on the list.

  • Zebra received a Ragan Workplace Wellness Award for its exemplary physical health and well-being initiatives and offerings. 

  • Zebra ranked #32 among the top 50 large employers in the United States in the Top Workplaces USA feature by Energage. 

As we embark on the remainder of 2022, unaware of what lies before us, I feel confident that Zebra Nation has the tools to overcome challenges and build a better future as one global team. And if we need new tools, we have the right people to innovate them.  

So, let’s pause today, and every day, to celebrate those who have carried us through tough times and helped us see a brighter future. And let’s be thankful we have each other – as partners, customers, solution providers, and the list goes on – all working together to build a better world. We have always been better together, and we always will be. 

Healthcare, Warehouse and Distribution, Leadership, Innovative Ideas, Retail, Hospitality, Energy and Utilities, Manufacturing, Transportation and Logistics, Inside Zebra Nation, Field Operations, Banking, Public Sector,
Drew Ehlers
Drew Ehlers

Drew Ehlers currently serves as the Global Futurist and the Head of Global Partners. 

He previously served on the Zebra Ventures team and in several product management roles for Zebra's Chief Technology Office where he was responsible for producing advanced machine-learning models and algorithms for predictive analytics to solve critical business problems for Zebra and its partners and customers. This included emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision and blockchain. 

He currently holds contributing board positions on the Global AIM Blockchain Council and the Retail Advisory Council for Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence at Northwestern University.

Mr. Ehlers has more than 19 years of experience within the B2B technology industry and has held numerous leadership roles. Previously, he served as Senior Vice President at Gallagher Bassett and Vice President of Channel for the North America region at Zebra.

He holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland College and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

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