Labelling trends to expect this year: migration to the cloud
The last year has seen companies across sectors accelerate their adoption of new technology solutions, in no small part as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. NiceLabel VP Ken Moir offers some insight into how cloud-based labelling systems could be one of the key trends to continue into 2021.
As we look ahead to what 2021 has in store, organisations are increasingly looking for integrated solutions for everything from artwork management to factory labelling and direct marking. As a result, the move to convergence is the trend we expect to change the face of the labelling market.
This convergence is supported by the ongoing rollout of centralised label management systems that can interface with a wide range of devices performing a wide range of different functions. These label systems will also integrate with vision management systems as well as product lifecycle management systems, which are typically a rich source of data.
Along with a rise in integration, data services are likely to also see significant growth across the labelling industry. The move to online remote centralised management of labelling is helping to generate more data and that will help provide actionable intelligence to many businesses.
Printer manufacturers, for instance, will be able to tap into much more insight on how their printers are performing. Labelling system vendors will be better able to understand what features their customers are using and which they are not.
Further migration to the cloud
Another trend that will keep accelerating is the migration to cloud-based labelling. This is something that we have seen in 2020 and expect to continue through 2021 and beyond.
The changes labelling vendors have made in adapting to the pandemic include the increasing adoption of a cloud-first approach in order to navigate a world of remote working and lockdowns. The channel has stepped up to the plate to help manage labelling in the cloud as businesses move their labelling operations off-premise.
Moreover, regulated industries like life sciences, which need to do system validation, are increasingly migrating to cloud-based solutions. Every time one of these businesses updates or changes a system, they have to go through a series of tests to ensure their system is fully validated.
However, due to the large amount of work involved in validation, businesses restrict the number of updates they undertake as a result. Life sciences businesses can benefit from a validation-ready cloud solution, which enables them to streamline their approach to compliance while limiting the number of updates they need to undertake.
The continued impact of the pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic will continue to have a significant impact on the sector throughout 2021. Change has already been driven by necessity.
Across labelling, organisations have been forced to adopt new ways of working and often, they have found them to be more efficient than what went before.
Businesses now understand that they can work remotely and still be efficient. Vendors have reacted by modifying their tools and solutions. The same transformation is happening in the world of label management systems.
Today, channel partners can collaborate remotely and provide services, whether it is designing labels or configuring applications, and they can remotely monitor label volumes and types of labels printed, helping to provide a much better customer experience.
The best way for businesses to ensure the quality of their labels next year will be through a technology known as vision inspection. These systems can help ensure that the barcodes and text on a label are perfect and, in turn, that the label is the way it is meant to be.
We will see vision inspection systems fully integrating with label management systems in 2021, giving businesses a closed loop and the reassurance of knowing that the printed label is what was meant to be printed.
As businesses consider their labelling needs for 2021, they not only need to start moving to the cloud but also to standardise, centralise and simplify their processes. Cloud-connected printers are already here and we see uptake increasing through 2021, even though mass adoption has not yet happened.
The solution has existed for some time but now there is a problem that it can help to address. With the advance of cloud-based label management systems, there is a need for cloud-connected printers that leave zero footprint on-premise.
As we look to 2021 and even further ahead, despite the many challenges, these are times of great opportunity for the labelling and label management industries.
The convergence and digital transformation of the sector, including the acceleration of the move to the cloud will shake up the labelling and label management markets of not only next year, but many to follow.