I speak with Vice-president and General Manager of Asia Pacific, Zebra Technologies, Mr Ryan Goh to get his views on management, leadership, and find out more about Zebra Technologies.
According to Mr Ryan Goh, Zebra Technologies have been empowering the front-line of businesses in retail and E-commerce, manufacturing, transportation, logistics, and healthcare to achieve an edge in terms of performance since 1969. Mr Goh adds: “As the pioneer at the edge of the enterprise, our products, software, services, analytics, and solutions are used to intelligently connect the people, assets and data of enterprises.”
Mr Goh adds that based on Zebra Technologies’ decades of experience in the industry, they design with front-line users and workplaces in mind so as to give them the best-action guidance required to optimise in-motion operations and make business-critical decisions. Today, Zebra Technologies has more than 10,000 partners in over 100 countries, and they are committed to delivering industry-tailored solutions that can help their customers capture their edge.
I ask Mr Goh for his opinions on leadership, motivation, and his views on the brick-and-mortar retail sector.
Sadie-Jane Nunis (SJN): There is a constant debate that management and leadership are different. What are your thoughts?
Mr Ryan Goh (RG): While management certainly has its time and place, a good leadership style helps your employees to feel like they’re truly part of the team. At Zebra Technologies, innovation has always been at our core, and we’re always looking for the things that we can be innovative about next.
We believe that when we empower our employees through leadership, they will proactively look to contribute by providing their feedback and ideas. They’ll challenge the status quo and find better and more innovative ways to do things that can generate better results with greater efficiency. It is this spirit that has contributed to Zebra Technologies’ success as a market leader.
SJN: What is your management or leadership style like?
RG: One of the key tenets of my leadership style is the development of a company culture of collaboration. We run sessions that we call “Leaders in Action”, which is a workshop where we bring together not only the senior management, but most of our employees too. Across the Asia-Pacific (APAC), over 84 per cent of our employees have gone through this workshop. One of the biggest takeaways from this workshop is the idea that you must be willing to give up your piece of the puzzle so that you can complete the entire puzzle for
the team. So, by being selfish and only holding on to your puzzle piece, nobody will be able to win. This has been a cornerstone in how we’ve developed our collaborative culture.
SJN: What strengths should an effective leader have?
RG: An effective leader needs to be open-minded to receiving feedback and ideas from his employees. Another strength is in the ability to hire people with the right attitude, as opposed to just those with paper qualifications. When paired up with a talented team who have the right attitude, a leader will be able to push the business to greater heights by overcoming challenges. With the right attitude in mind, employees will naturally be more inquisitive and be more open to learning from others so as to continuously improve themselves. They will also want to contribute more to their team.
SJN: How do you stay motivated?
RG: I’m proud to be working for a company that has been empowering those in the front-line across many industries such as retail, manufacturing, transport, logistics, and healthcare since 1969. Through our innovating efforts, we have been able to help our customers achieve a performance edge that translates to delighted customers, good patient outcomes, and superior business results. This is what keeps me going!
SJN: How big is your team and how do you manage and motivate your team?
RG: We have around 3,500 employees across the APAC. Apart from E-mail memos, we host regular town halls to keep our staff updated on what Zebra Technologies’ latest announcements are. We also organise regular activities to engage our staff. Recently, the entire APAC office gathered to jointly complete a painting in celebration of Zebra Technologies’ 50th anniversary.
Zebra Technologies has been ranked on Forbes’ list of America’s Best Employers for the last four years, and that culture lives on with us here in the APAC region. Through regular communications with our staff, we try to understand what’s on their mind by getting their feedback. By developing an environment where people feel encouraged to share and contribute, we’ve seen employees come up
with innovative ideas for the company and its business. Zebra Technologies is a company where our colleagues see themselves as part of the business, rather than a place to clock in their hours just to get the job done.
SJN: What role do you see Zebra Technologies playing as a disruptor?
RG: We’ve seen innovation move from the core of enterprises to the edge of business, where front-line employees need real-time insights to make real-time decisions and interact directly with the processes, people, and patients that they serve. When the front-line is empowered with solutions when they are needed, the customer experience will drastically improve.
At Zebra Technologies, we’re empowering businesses with the technology they need for better business outcomes. From the barcode scanners at checkout counters, to the mobile computers that delivery people use to take your signature, to the scanners nurses use in hospital to ensure that they’re giving the right medication to the right patient at the right time and in the right dose—our solutions are helping to disrupt businesses and change people’s everyday lives for the better.
SJN: What is your opinion on the current state of the brick-and-mortar retail sector?
RG: The biggest trends in the brick-and-mortar retail sector are that of E-commerce, and more recently, omni-channel retail. E-commerce has raised customer expectations, with customers now expecting same-day delivery or even deliveries to be made within a two- or fourhours’ time frame. They want what they what when they want it and this has led to an on-demand economy. In response, many retailers are looking to cope with this demand through digital innovation.
SJN: How do you see Zebra Technologies helping those in the brick-and-mortar retail sector?
RG: We’re providing retailers with the solutions they need to innovate digitally. One example would be the Target stores in North America: the company has empowered store associates with mobile Android devices from Zebra Technologies. When assisting customers at the store, associates can look up the inventory of items and offer to have the products shipped directly to the customers’ homes, or advise them on the nearest store which has available stocks of the product. This helps improve the customer experience by offering them with a variety of fulfilment options, thereby allowing them to pick what’s most important to them and to ensure that the sale is made rather than having the customer leave dissatisfied. At Zebra Technologies, we’re empowering front-line workers in the retail industry with the insights they need to ensure complete customer satisfaction even as customers’ expectations continue to rise.
SJN: Where do you see brick-and-mortar retail sector going in the next five years and why?
RG: The omni-channel will be extremely important to the retail sector in the future, both as a physical storefront as well as offering a convenient pick-up location after the online purchase is made.
At the same time, we foresee that the use of technology will become much more prevalent. Our 11th annual Global Shopper Study suggested that 66 per cent of surveyed associates felt that they could provide a better shopping experience for customers if they were to be equipped with tablets. 1 Indeed, most surveyed retail decision makers (83 per cent) and store associates (74 per cent) concur that shoppers can have a better experience with technology-equipped sales associates.
SJN: Any advice for those in the brick-and-mortar retail sector, especially the local companies?
RG: One of the concerns often raised about technology is whether humans will be replaced by automation. Instead, we foresee that the future will be one of increasing collaboration between humans and automated systems. One example we’ve seen is in the warehouse environment, where humans can stay in place while the robots are tasked with the picking and come to the humans. Our customers were telling us that employee retention rates in this case were very high, not just because of the reduced fatigue for the human worker, but also because robots help replace the mundane, boring jobs that humans don’t want to do. Local companies need to think ahead and see where market and regulatory trends are heading. They need to ask themselves if it would make more business sense to invest now and reap the rewards, or if they should wait until labour costs outweigh the capital investment into technology.
SJN: Where do you see Zebra Technologies in the next five years?
RG: We live in a world where the line is blurring between the digital and the physical. At our fingertips is the ability to instantly hail car-services, replenish household items, and transfer payments. This hyper level of personalisation, convenience, and information has given rise to a demanding consumer, one who expects what they want, when, where, and how they want it. These rising expectations are fuelling the on-demand economy. To win with customers, businesses must innovate—and digital is their best weapon. These innovations often generate enormous volumes of real-time data, which are then used to create new, break-through on-demand experiences. This on-demand economy continues to push what it means to be “customer-driven,” and to be a part of the conversation, all businesses must digitise operations to remain relevant and competitive.
As businesses in the region urgently innovate and transform on a large scale, it is imperative for them to find a partner that has done this before and is the leader in edge products and solutions, and I believe that Zebra Technologies will continue to be a trusted partner for enterprises and organisations across the world for the foreseeable future.
1 Zebra Technologies, 15 May 2019. Future of retail: 2019 shopper study, Accessed via https://connect.zebra.com/ap_2019RetailShopperStudy
PHOTO: ZEBRA TECHNOLOGIES
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