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Published on 5/3/21 11:05 AM

Benefits Retailers Can take away from Smart Automation

With brick-and-mortar retail stores quickly turning into online order fulfillment centers, associates who used to focus exclusively on keeping shelves stocked are now the ones depleting them, alongside in-store shoppers. This change is driving many retailers to put intelligent automation solutions such as the Zebra EMA (Enterprise Mobile Automation) system, to work.

As “smart automation” takes to the aisles to track inventory turnover, and operational information; retailer’s IT and store operations teams must be able to ensure the security of their patrons digital profile, privacy, and data are prioritized as highly as their physical safety and security when shopping inside the brick and mortar stores.

Because of this, technology innovators are addressing these matters, the innovators at Zebra in particular have actually leveraged many of the best practices used for operational technologies (OT) and enterprise IT when mapping out the security, safety and privacy criteria for intelligent automation solutions.

The Recommended Approach: Security, Safety and Privacy “By Design”

When talking about security, safety, and privacy, we need to consider the role and impact of people, processes, and technology equally. We don’t want to hinder operations, interfere with worker productivity, or degrade the shopper or store staff experience in any way. All security, safety and privacy measures must be implemented to fit into store associates’ normal workday, helping them serve customers, in a seamless and almost invisible way.

For example, intelligent automation must comply with data privacy regulations when operating in store environments in regards to both shoppers and store associates. In the European Union (EU), and increasingly in North America, more stringent data privacy regulations are being implemented to protect citizens’ personally identifiable information from being improperly captured, stored and/or used without explicit permission. Steps must be taken to inform citizens of what personal data is being collected and how it is being used before securing each individual’s consent.

In the case of intelligent automation, the simplest way to comply with these increasingly complex privacy regulations is to avoid gathering unnecessary personal information from the start. Fortunately, the Zebra's EMA system was designed with security and privacy in mind from day one. If a shopper or store associate comes near the smart (mobile) automation system, a 360-degree multi-zone intrusion prevention system automatically stops it from getting too close to the individual. The data capture mode is also built to focus in on shelf items and price tags, not people, to prevent individuals’ personally identifiable images from being captured.

People, processes, and technology all have to be thoughtfully considered in this scenario, it must be considered in all potential privacy and security scenarios involving any technology that utilizes computer vision, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and/or more traditional cameras to capture visual data. So, as you’re evaluating intelligent automation solutions for your retail environment, be sure to consider these six things:

  1. The established health and safety protocol for your customers and store associates
  2. The required data privacy regulations to be compliant with government and industry mandates
  3. The IT security policy that are already in place and how employees are using them today
  4. Your open source software licensing policies
  5. Data security policy, governance, and management models
  6. The security of your physical assets and the formation of response plans should an incident occur, and swift action be needed

Some “by design” elements that we’ve found to be very effective when operating the Zebra EMA system in retail stores include:

  • Configurable audio and visual cues to provide a worry-free shopper experience
  • Multiple safety systems to ensure safe and smooth operations throughout store operations schedules  
  • Automatic data capture shut-off to prevent the capture of shopper or store associate images or identifiable information
  • Built-in VPN, firewalls, and the highest level of encryption technology to help prevent cyber breach
  • Leverage Center for Internet Security Level 1 and Level 2 standards across the entire SmartSight EMA system 
  • Compliance with all open source licensing agreements to mitigate associated liability and insurance risk
  • Mechanical design that supports physical security policy and asset protection strategies

We recommend that retailers carefully assess their privacy, safety, and security requirements in the context of retail store operations and risk tolerance first – beyond the implications of intelligent automation. Then, once these broad measures and mandates are understood, retailers can then go a level deeper to consider the additional measures that will be needed to comply with industry regulations and address concerns raised by employees and customers.

Intelligent mobile automation systems are still somewhat “novel” in many people’s minds yet growing in numbers very rapidly. That means shopper and store staff’s perception of the privacy, safety and security risks posed by the smart automation systems seen in store aisles is very real.

At Remoterelief we work together with companies to demonstrate how those risks can be minimized or eliminated. Partnering with Zebra to deliver transformative solutions and secure support for the work intelligent automation is doing to improve the retail experience for shoppers and store associates alike. 

RemoteRelief is proud to be a Partner with Zebra Technologies specializing in deployment, remote management, and secure operational data movement of endpoints for retail, and other product and service environments. 

Utilizing Vmware's Workspace One Unified Endpoint Management system to remotely manage a wide range of mobile computing devices encompassing a variety of use cases including, ruggedized handhelds and mobile tablets, wearable's, as well as fixed devices, running on Mac/iOS, Windows® or Android™ operating systems.

Where Remoterelief shines is when an IT department doesn't always have enough digital workspace expertise on its staff to create and maintain these changes, deployments, and integrations. Our subject matter experts, specialize in assisting clients in setup, deployment, and remote management of enterprises' systems and devices as well as secure operational data movement of vital company data from physical endpoints.

If you would like more information about RemoteRelief and our services, please subscribe to our tech blogs. If you are interested in a demonstration or learning more about RemoteRelief's services, features, and benefits, click here to speak with a subject matter specialist. 


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Bryan Afonso
Author: Bryan Afonso
Marketing Coordinator at Remote Relief inc. Combining my skills and experiences that began in retail environments then shifting to handheld mobile device testing enables me to convey IT and Mobile Device Management solutions and information.

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