Zebra Technologies: How Policies Affect the Effectiveness of Public and Private Sector Digitization


From a technology perspective, the lessons of both the pandemic and the current global supply chain crisis can be summed up in a short phase: “building resilience”. That’s why governments around the world are assessing how these lessons should inform both future policymaking and operational planning in 2022 and beyond.

If you ask me, there are five pressing operational and political issues:

1. The pandemic has underscored that manual, paper-based processes must give way to automated digital processes that can leverage the benefits of advanced capabilities and analytics. The supply chain crisis has confirmed the need for standardized automation and digitization.

2. Just as businesses have done over the past decade, governments need to modernize their digital capabilities with a focus on building resilience.

3. To reap the benefits of digitalization, access to operational data – the fuel for advanced capabilities and analytics – is essential. This is the only way to fully digitize or digitally transform operations.

4. Policy makers should adapt regulation to the different nature, purposes and uses of data within a company.

5. Business decisions and post-pandemic policy choices must advance digitization while securing all data to meet consumer and public expectations in the on-demand economy.

Define the right indicators of success

Already, a significant amount of energy has been devoted to ensuring the future preparedness of the supply chain and public health in the United States, as Congress and the Biden administration have made resilience a key priority in a number of legislative initiatives.

These efforts come at a critical time, as the public is both frustrated with social restrictions brought on by the pandemic and increasingly concerned about the country’s future. A Monmouth University poll published in late January found that “totally 7 in 10 Americans (70%) agree with the feeling that it’s time to accept that Covid is here to stay and we just need to get on with our lives”. Similarly, the recent average of national opinion polls in Really clear policy shows that nearly two-thirds of American voters think the country is on the wrong track.

These findings underscore the public’s desire for two things: first, a return to more normal everyday life, and second, an expectation that key systems and institutions in our society are functioning effectively and demonstrating resilience. This is why it is so important that post-pandemic policy and planning focus on making government as efficient and accountable as possible, both in overall operations and, more specifically, in managing the supply chain.

Public expectations

The public’s desire for more resilience and efficiency is not particularly new. Consumers have been expressing ever-higher expectations of businesses for years, long before the pandemic began. Over the past decade, these expectations have led to the creation of the gig economy. In turn, the demands of the on-demand economy have driven successful businesses to deploy digital solutions and technologies across their operations. The challenges of the pandemic have created similar expectations of government. Fortunately, governments have been able to draw on the demonstrated experience of sectors such as retail, transportation and logistics in using proven technologies to address supply chain and public health challenges. .

In a way, the pandemic has made apparent what much of the world has known, at least subconsciously, for some time – namely that the era of slow, manual, paper-based processes is over. To realize the performance benefits of the on-demand economy, government and businesses will need to continue their efforts towards digitizing data and digitizing processes. In turn, this will require empowering frontline workers with the power of real-time data, mobility and connectivity. Fortunately, the federal government has provided significant funding to state and local governments so they can make the same type of investment in digitizing key operations that private sector companies have been able to make over the past decade.

As a bit of history, it is worth recalling the journey of the on-demand economy over the last decade.

Initially, organizations focused their digitization and digitization efforts on the “core of the business” by introducing better enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems and warehouse management systems (WMS). They also migrated patient data to electronic health records (EHRs) and similar digital information systems. In the years leading up to the pandemic, technological momentum grew and moved to the “network edge”. This led to equipping frontline workers with mobile digital technologies that could access the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and the cloud. This trend has accelerated over the past two years as the public has made it clear that they want business and government to provide ever-higher levels of efficiency, transparency and real-time understanding of their operations. This expectation has often been expressed through the pandemic-inspired question: “Where is my stuff?”

Data policy is essential

When evaluating future public policy choices related to digitization and digitization, it is important to first understand the key role that data collection, use, and sharing plays in advancing digitization. processes and industries. Data is the essential fuel that operationalizes digitization, which, in turn, enables the application of advanced analytics and automated decision-making that improve performance and reduce costs.

While issues related to the collection, use and sharing of data can raise a myriad of concerns, it is essential that public policy enables governments and businesses to leverage the power of their data to serve people. consumers and the public. This is why future data policy must recognize – and be proportional to – the type of data collected, used and shared.

Certain common sense notions can provide an initial starting point for policy discussions. For example, it is clear that employee information collected by the human resources (HR) department for employment purposes is very different from anonymized information relating to employee movements in a warehouse or employees performing a specific operational activity. . Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the different datasets have appropriate regulatory structures that reflect their practical and real world differences.

Operational decisions

Moreover, it is beneficial for governments and businesses to continue their efforts to address digitization, digitization and security in their own operations. One way to address this issue is to deploy purpose-built enterprise technologies in government and commercial environments, as they are designed to provide the required level of performance (think ruggedness and battery life) and limit attack vectors, while helping to eliminate unnecessary distractions in the workplace. . This contrasts with the use of consumer technologies in enterprise environments, which can create both distractions and potential security vulnerabilities given the unrelated features and applications that often reside on these devices.

The choice of enterprise technologies over consumer technologies has become quite timely given the large influx of federal COVID-19 relief funds that have been – and will continue to be – provided to state governments. and premises over the next few years. As public (and private) sector leaders look to continue efforts to digitize operations and advance safety, decisions about whether to provide enterprise or consumer technology to frontline workers seem become an increasingly important decision point. .


Government and business leaders must continue their efforts to advance digital innovation across their organizations. Likewise, legislators should support the development of public policies that promote digitization by enabling the correct and secure use of work-related data. 2022 is poised to become the year governments and businesses around the world recognize and embrace the critical importance of data-driven digitization – and fully move the journey forward. Those on the front lines must be equipped with the capabilities to meet consumer and industry expectations in a demand-driven economy.


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