In episode 85 of the IoT For All Podcast, we sit down with Zebra Technologies’ Drew Ehlers to talk about the shift from the Internet of Things to the Internet of Intelligence. Drew shares his experience watching IoT mature for the past two decades and some of the top considerations in adopting and scaling IoT in enterprise.
Drew Ehlers serves as the Global Futurist and the Global General Manager of SmartPack™, Office of the CTO at Zebra Technologies. He oversees the integrated SmartPack™ team and is responsible for producing advanced machine-learning models and algorithms for predictive analytics to solve critical business problems for both Zebra and its partners and customers. Drew has more than 19 years of experience within the B2B technology industry and previously served as the Senior Vice President at Gallagher Bassett and Vice President of Channel for the North America region at Zebra.
To start the episode, Drew gave us some background on Zebra Technologies, which has been instrumenting on the edge for the past five decades. “When it comes to IoT,” Drew said, “we’re ground zero – especially in the enterprise space.”
What really sets Zebra apart is its methodology. Drew said that, in every customer interaction, they work hard to identify and clarify the problems that IoT can solve, and work backwards from there. By clearly defining a problem statement, Drew said that Zebra is in a much better position to help customers ensure ROI and really understand the value of the solutions they’re building.
The current state of ecommerce, Drew said, is a great example. With people unable to shop in-person, ecommerce has exploded in the past several months and the supply chain has struggled to keep up. Drew said that, through SmartPack, companies have been able utilize trailers and planes to their greatest extent, expediting shipping and enabling real-time insights that save both labor and time by alerting crews if a trailer is being packed inefficiently.
Drew also offered his thoughts on the maturity of the space overall, and how he’s seen it grow over the past twenty years. He said that, if the past twenty years have been focused on instrumentation, we’re moving onto the next layer of implementation – intelligence. From predictive measurements to prescriptive analytics, he said that intelligence would be key to unlocking the true potential of IoT.
Drew also gave some advice for companies just starting their IoT journey – from really solidifying their problem statement to ensure ROI, to vital considerations on privacy and security to include in the planning process.
Interested in connecting with Drew? Reach out to him on Linkedin!
About Zebra Technologies: Zebra Technologies empowers the front line in retail/ecommerce, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, healthcare, public sector and other industries to achieve a performance edge. With more than 10,000 partners across 100 countries, Zebra delivers industry-tailored, end-to-end solutions to enable every asset and worker to be visible, connected and fully optimized. The company’s market-leading solutions elevate the shopping experience, track and manage inventory as well as improve supply chain efficiency and patient care.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(01:47) Intro to Drew
(03:42) Intro to Zebra Technologies
(05:19) What does a typical customer engagement look like for Zebra Technologies?
(07:44) Can you share some use case examples?
(17:53) We’ve been experiencing a transition from focusing on connecting things, to intelligence – can you speak to that transition and what you’ve seen in your own customer interactions?
(23:31) How often do customers know what they’re looking for, from a data and ROI perspective?
(27:55) How do you advise companies on starting their IoT journey? Do you have any advice for our listeners?
(33:37) When should companies be thinking about the privacy and security aspects of their solutions?
(35:57) Is there any news on the horizon for Zebra Technologies?