While you may know your company like the back of your hand, there’s a powerful but invisible tool embedded in your people, processes and products that can tell you how things really are. It’s data. And many businesses aren’t taking full advantage of it.
From strategy to supply chains, leaders in the manufacturing sector need to have a clear overview of day-to-day business activities, as well as keeping one eye on the future – and customers’ evolving needs. This is especially true as organisations fight to stay ahead of the unpredictable demand generated by the global COVID-19 outbreak.
The ability to harness real-time, useful data could be the single most important strategic step your business takes. It offers the ability to generate truly impactful and actionable insights to transform how you run your business.
What kind of data is useful?
Data is generated everywhere throughout a business and its supply chain. Business leaders simply need to know how to extract and analyse it in a useful way, so they can achieve positive outcomes.
Mobile computers, scanners, sensors – these standard industry devices already capture data across warehouse floors with RFID, using the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect the digital and the physical. But this wealth of data needs to be analysed in real time; IDC predicts that by 2025, 30 percent of all applications will use real-time data. By then, over 50 percent of all data will be in the cloud.
Also, the useful data needs to be separated from the excess, and the data that’s not being used efficiently needs to be identified. ‘Big data’ is one thing, but ‘small data that tells you exactly what you need to know to create impact’ is far more manageable.
How APIs Help to Interpret the Right Data
The good news is that applications are available to better connect users with their devices and data. In order to be most effective, though, these applications must often be designed specifically to facilitate a vertical sector or individual company’s unique need. This is where application programming interfaces (APIs) come into play. APIs can help businesses innovate more quickly and enable developers to create tailor-made applications that make processes more efficient. What’s more, APIs can work hand-in-hand with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and blockchain to ensure the golden combination of transparency and security is running right through a supply chain. Using existing APIs can also help to reduce time spent on development cycles, as well as drive down associated costs.
Ultimately, APIs – in practical terms – will transform workflows, identify bottlenecks in the supply chain and improve performance.
Which APIs are Right for Your Business?
That is the million-dollar question for many.
One thing that Zebra has learned from close collaboration with customers across multiple sectors is that cloud-based tools that collect and process data from intelligent edge devices in real time can completely transform operational efficiency and outcomes. They turn raw data into intelligence and actionable insights. The data in turn enables businesses to create bespoke applications.
To understand your application needs, it’s worth scrutinising your own processes and asking yourself a few questions:
- Do you need unique workflow solutions? If so, cloud-accessible APIs may be best. They enable your developers to build highly customised applications that enable you to pull together disparate data sources and connect multiple edge devices in order to better understand your business opportunities.
- Who/what generates your data? A platform that uses IoT, artificial intelligence and machine learning will be most capable of aggregating and redistributing insights across the mobile devices already being used by your employees, partners and customers.
- When will you need to access data? You need convenience and flexibility; and a cloud-based portal that offers developers 24/7 access to your business data can help to reduce development cycle time.
- What other ways could you leverage APIs to improve operational efficiency, safety, security or customer service? One global video security and video-based business intelligence provider used Zebra Data Services to introduce a fraudulent return investigations capability in its retail solution, which ultimately improved its bottom line. Another company that provides keyless and wireless Bluetooth, RFID intelligent lock technology is using Zebra Data Services to provide insights on device health, location and usage, battery health and worker productivity levels.
Want to Know Your Business Inside and Out?
If there’s an opportunity to know your business even better, then APIs will empower you to act on it. Learn how you can get a more intelligent overview of your organisation with Zebra Data Services, powered by Zebra Savanna or contact us to set up a consultation.