By Samuel Mueller, CEO and co-founder, Scandit
COVID-19 has given new meaning to the term ‘digital transformation’ and there’s no shortage of commentators agreeing on that point right now. In its COVID-19 recovery plan, McKinsey reported that we have jumped ahead by five years in eight weeks in terms of consumer and business digital adoption during lockdowns.
So it’s clear the pandemic is a catalyst for the digital transformation that was already underway in many industries. The lead investor in our Series C funding round announced today, G2VP, focuses on “exceptional companies applying emerging technologies to traditional industries in novel, sustainable ways”. G2VP recognized the value that Scandit’s computer vision and augmented reality (AR) technology already brings to the retail, transport & logistics, manufacturing and healthcare industries and the future possibilities for these and other industries. We’re delighted to have the confidence of experienced Silicon Valley investors – ex-Kleiner Perkins partners – to deliver on this promise.
“Scandit’s platform puts an enterprise-grade scanning solution in the pocket of every employee and customer without requiring legacy hardware. This bridge between the physical and digital worlds will be increasingly critical as the world accelerates its shift to online purchasing and delivery, distributed supply chains and cashierless retail.”
Ben Kortlang, General Partner at G2VP
When we founded Scandit, we saw the potential for businesses and consumers to benefit from the technical advances in camera phones and smart devices that were happening at that time, at break-neck speed. We recognized that by developing a highly specialized mobile computer vision platform for camera-equipped smart devices, we could effectively extend the Internet of Things (IoT) paradigm to the world of everyday objects. This concept is futuristic, yes, but think for a moment how computer vision on a smart device connects us to everyday objects by reading a barcode, or some text or via generic object recognition… with the smart device as the universal sensor, physical and digital worlds start to blend. We have years of work in front of us to deliver on our ultimate vision, but looking back at what we’ve achieved so far, I’m proud to say that Scandit has evolved into a world-class team of mobile computer vision, machine learning, and ‘Internet of Things’ specialists from around the globe, with expertise in the industries we serve.
Blending the physical and digital with clever software and a simple user interface
The smartphone is a personal tool that can be enhanced with powerful computer vision software to seamlessly interact with everyday objects and display real-time information with AR-overlays. Put simply, any camera-equipped smart device – from smartphones to wearables, drones and robots – can be turned into a powerful scanner of barcodes, text and objects. Why is this exciting? Because it provides a highly flexible and cost-efficient digital platform for large enterprises to take time and cost out of their operations, improve employee satisfaction, and in the case of retailers, drive customer engagement by offering added value with mobile shopping and self-scanning services.
If business runs on data, that data needs to be shared, easily and quickly, across the whole business. If employees carry a familiar, user-friendly tool to scan and capture data and view information or instructions, a network of real-time data is immediately created across multiple operational teams. Ultimately, the business case for this digitization is based on cost and time savings to improve efficiency and raise productivity.
And this is why organizations in retail, transport & logistics and manufacturing use Scandit’s computer vision technology to create and power mobile apps or websites. For a retailer, that’s for processes like mobile shopping, self checkout and inventory management. In transport and logistics, the scanning app would do tasks like sorting and loading, asset tracking and proof of delivery. For healthcare, Scandit supports digital health, with healthcare workers using familiar smartphones to scan patient IDs, specimens, medication and supplies.
Get ready for ‘contactless retail’
In a COVID-19 impacted world, businesses and employers have a new safeguarding responsibility to provide a clean and contactless environment for their employees and customers. This demand is not expected to change anytime soon and the use of personal devices to avoid touching shared surfaces will only increase.
Grocery retailers worldwide are using Scandit to support their accelerated plans for self-scanning and Scan-and-Go shopping to meet consumer demand for ‘contactless retail’. These retailers want to offer shoppers the ability to use their own smartphone to select, learn about and buy products.
Best Practice Guide
Self-Scanning in Retail
Likewise, retail employees do not want to touch and share devices with colleagues. But retail operations traditionally involve lots of scanning by lots of employees using a few shared scanners. Instead, regular workflows and tasks can be done with mobile barcode-scanning apps on individual smartphones – for example to do in-store order picking for click and collect orders, shipping and receiving inventory, shelf management, price label verification and stock counts.
We’re also seeing more frequent use of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and company-owned personally-enabled (COPE) policies, not only to reduce costs, but because employees enjoy using their own individual and familiar smartphone and so view these options as a perk of the job.
The rise and rise of online shopping and pick-up or home delivery
Eye-watering eCommerce sales figures in categories such as home appliances, exercise equipment and grocery, have left delivery companies searching for ways to keep up with demand during the COVID-19 lockdown. From depot to doorstep, a familiar and personal mobile device with high-performance barcode scanning can be the critical tool used by workers for fast order picking, optimized van loading and contactless proof of delivery.
Delivery firms and retailers are getting serious about scaling-up capacity while keeping costs under control. We’re seeing more use of BYOD (bring your own device) and COPE (corporate-owned personally-enabled) policies as highly cost-effective ways to quickly scale-up workforce numbers. Our customers, Yodel and Hermes are good examples of how BYOD has been successfully deployed. And do read the quote from the Yodel courier in the case study – it speaks volumes!
Adopting BYOD in the Last Mile
Digital Health has arrived
With COVID-19 wards pushed to their limits, digital health is high on the agenda to facilitate patient testing and make supply chains more streamlined, robust and efficient. In hospitals and wards not caring for COVID-19 patients, digital health projects can be accelerated to update systems now. Any smart device can be deployed to scan patient IDs, samples, medication and supplies, bringing significant efficiency benefits and cost savings throughout healthcare systems, quickly. The UK Scan-4-Safety program delivered staggering time and cost savings for one hospital in the NHS.
As part of our response to the pandemic, we used the Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK to quickly develop a mobile app for use by health workers in COVID-19 testing centres. The app is used on smartphones to first scan the patient’s ID – a passport or driver’s license – and then scan the test tube. It’s a contactless process for both parties and if you think about how much time it would take to note down 5 pieces of information from a driver’s license compared to just scanning it in a second, it’s easy to imagine the time savings during the process.
Faster and Safer Data Capture for COVID-19 Testing
Interaction between machines, products, people & processes – Industry 4.0
In today’s market, businesses need to invest less and get more, and nowhere is this felt more keenly than in manufacturing, field service and logistics. Much is possible today – even without a big investment. Technology is adopted when there is a strong business case. First movers will get a competitive advantage over latecomers as they reap the benefits first and then adapt to new opportunities they discover as employees experience the technology.
The use of computer vision and Augmented Reality (AR) with smart devices, moves organizations towards ‘connected manufacturing’, with digital systems that consolidate – and critically, share – data across end-to-end operations. Scandit helps re-engineer field operation workflows like goods received, inventory management, asset tracking, service and maintenance. This digitization drives efficiency, increases employee productivity, cuts costs, supports compliance and improves customer experience.
Cincinnati Bell Makes Service Calls Shorter With Scandit’s Mobile Barcode Scanning
Our new funding makes it possible for us to innovate even more rapidly and help more enterprises in more ways to quickly adapt to the new demand for ‘contactless business’. We’re excited by the fact that this innovation will better position organizations to succeed, whatever the new normal is.
Computer vision is evolving rapidly, with a growing number of ways to supercharge employees involved in repetitive tasks, for example with wearables that give employees the convenience of hands free working. Augmented reality continues to develop as a business capability, offering a way to interact with objects in real time and facilitate decision making with data.
As the need for companies to scale-up and strengthen digital capabilities comes into sharp focus – something McKinsey identifies as ‘digital escalation’ – the need to blend the physical and digital worlds will play a crucial role.
As businesses continue to adjust to the current landscape and bring forward digital programs, we are happy to discuss possibilities and ideas, and our solution consultants are also available to work with IT teams.