Zebra Interview


Zebra is renowned for its innovative hardware and is a global leader in many sectors. However, what often goes unnoticed is what makes Zebra's devices truly innovative – and that is the software they have access to.

With its device software solutions known as 'Zebra DNA,' Zebra stands at the forefront of the market. Zebra DNA comprises three main areas: 'Mobility DNA' for mobile computers and tablets, 'Scanning DataCapture DNA' for scanners, and 'Print DNA' for printers. Some of the DNA software tools are pre-installed on new devices, and there are dozens of additional tools that can be installed later.

Tobias Abendroth, Regional Sales Manager DACH at Jarltech Europe GmbH, talked to Jürgen Zimmermann, Manager Sales Engineering DACH at Zebra Technologies, about the tools within Zebra DNA.

Tobias Abendroth: Hello Jürgen, I'm excited to talk to you about Zebra DNA. Can you tell me how many software tools there are for each of the three categories – 'Mobility DNA,' 'Scanning DataCapture DNA,' and 'Print DNA', and and how many of them come pre-installed on Zebra's mobile computers, scanners, and printers? Are these the basic tools that most companies need?"

Jürgen Zimmermann: Hello Tobias, I'm pleased to answer your questions. In total, we have over 250 individual software solutions across the three categories. This includes apps, cloud services, desktop applications, plus additional capabilities within the devices. The vast majority are free. However, only particularly crucial or essential ones are pre-installed.

The tools a customer needs or could benefit from depend significantly on the use case of the devices. One can envision our DNA tools as a toolbox. Depending on the project, I need different things. Of course, I can drive a nail into the wall with pliers, but it's better with a hammer. The challenge is knowing the tools and their functions to use them correctly. Some tools overlap in their capabilities, partly by design and partly due to historical reasons. For example, updates to our printers can be applied using either "ZDownloader" or alternatively through "Zebra Setup Utilities."

Tobias Abendroth: The toolbox is a great metaphor for the DNA tools. Now tell me, why should I purchase additional DNA software tools if the most essential tools are already installed on the device

Jürgen Zimmermann: Firstly, it's important to mention that all previously free tools will remain free in their cloud-based home. Only the new or previously paid services continue to require a license.

Let's consider a customer using a Mobile Device Management (MDM) system to manage their Zebra Android devices, which serves them well but lacks Zebra-specific capabilities. The Zebra DNA Cloud can be used for this customer as a kind of add-on. For instance, if the customer's MDM doesn't provide the ability to remotely control the devices, this can be achieved through our DNA Cloud.

General benefits of cloud-based software can also be a reason for adoption. There's no need to maintain and manage a server, and there's no requirement for self-version-control.

Tobias Abendroth: What other benefits does the DNA Cloud offer?

Jürgen Zimmermann: To answer that I need to distinguish between the vision and the current state. In its current state, the DNA Cloud is a platform where more and more Mobility DNA tools find a second home. Additionally, new capabilities that we didn't have before or only provided for other platforms are now integrated there. This includes, for example, wireless management of Android versions – LifeGuard OTA. 

It's a capability we've built into our devices and servers we provide so that MDMs can offer it. Until now, only some major MDMs have done this, but now the customer can do it using our means, even if their MDM doesn't support it or they don't have one. When I refer to MDMs, I'm also including EMMs or UEMs, interchangeable terms for our purposes.

Our focus is on a user-friendly interface – something often overlooked in our industry. The DNA Cloud can be operated by anyone with IT affinity – even without training. Currently, it can be used as management software for Zebra Android devices and is particularly appealing to customers with a small IT department.

As a vision, the DNA Cloud is a unified interface where more and more tools from our entire DNA will be available, regardless of the product group they were created for. If our toolbox was previously a collection of good tools that were visually and tactically different, the DNA Cloud is the path to a tidy, unified toolbox.

Tobias Abendroth: That's every craftsman's dream, to stick with the metaphor. Tell me: Is acquiring the software worthwhile for small companies with fewer devices?

Jürgen Zimmermann: Yes, especially for small customers, the DNA Cloud is often particularly beneficial. Small businesses typically don't have huge IT teams that can familiarise themselves with the many different complicated interfaces.

Tobias Abendroth: How do companies determine which DNA tools are best suited to their needs within the multitude of available tools? How does the consultation process work? Can I test the software tools, and if so, for how long?

Jürgen Zimmermann: Those were several questions at once. I'll start from the back with the simplest question: Yes, all our software tools can be tested for free. The usual trial period is 30 days, but can be extended if needed. The customer should simply reach out to their Zebra partner.

Finding the right tool may not be easy. Since we have a large number of tools, I recommend the Zebra partner as the first point of contact. Additionally, we regularly conduct webinars ourselves to familiarise users with the tools. This year, for example, we are organising a webinar series on the various DNA offerings with our Value Added Distributor, Jarltech – as you surely know.

Tobias Abendroth: Absolutely, at Jarltech, we see these webinars as a great opportunity to introduce Zebra DNA tools more effectively to our customers. By the way, how do you come up with ideas for new software? Do you go into different markets and inquire about the problems? Who develops the software?

Jürgen Zimmermann: We develop the software almost entirely in-house, but we also collaborate with other software companies where it is advantageous. Frequently, we base our development on the requests of our customers. For example, a customer approached us and lamented the "loss" of their Zebra device. It's not uncommon for employees to forget where they left the devices or for devices briefly placed on a pallet to end up stored in a high shelf. From this requirement, our tool "DeviceTracker" was born, helping the customer locate these devices.

Of course, we also draw on our industry experience. With our "Wireless Fusion," for example, we developed our own Wi-Fi driver that allows our customers to optimise their Wi-Fi usage. Working in a corporate environment imposes advanced demands on features such as optimal load distribution, very fast roaming times, security, and much more.

Tobias Abendroth: Can you briefly share one or two examples of customer experiences, illustrating how they became more efficient and productive or achieved significant savings with Zebra DNA software tools?

Jürgen Zimmermann: There are countless examples. Let's consider the warehouse logistics company whose Warehouse Management System still operated on a terminal emulation basis, meaning everything was text-based with keyboard input and control. With "All Touch TE," we have a tool that automatically translates text-based screens into screens with visual design elements, such as buttons and graphics. This allows them to utilise new, powerful Android devices without having to make changes to their WMS. The new graphic interface reduces the frequency of errors due to incorrect inputs, and the application's operation on the display enhances the work performance of their employees. Additionally, the onboarding time for new employees is reduced since graphical interfaces are intuitive in their use.

Another example involves a tyre manufacturer. Here we could assist with our "OCR-Wedge." This tool allows our devices to recognise and read text. Anyone who has tried to read the descriptions on their car tyres knows it's not easy. Here’s where our devices come into play, capturing the tyre labeling with very high reliability and speed.

Tobias Abendroth: What does the future hold for Zebra DNA?

Jürgen Zimmermann: Alright. Truly, there are some very exciting new things coming soon. Unfortunately, without an NDA, I can't say more. *laughs* Of course, we continuously develop Zebra DNA, based on the needs of our customers. Those interested in a roadmap session on to where we are heading with the DNA Cloud can inquire with their Zebra partner.

Tobias Abendroth: Jürgen, I thank you for taking the time to answer my questions about Zebra DNA. This will surely help many who are interested in the tools of Zebra DNA.



Zebra DNA

Zebra DNA brings out the best in Zebra mobile devices, scanners, and printers, optimising the hardware. It makes evolutionary changes at the core of the products, in the genetic code. It evolves and breathes new life into them. This results in a permanent transformation and advancement of Zebra devices – for even more efficiency and productivity wherever they are used.

Mobility DNA

Mobility DNA makes Zebra Android mobile computers and tablets more user-friendly and flexible while simultaneously reducing integration and training efforts. Thanks to the Android operating system, the apps are continually evolving.

Scanning DataCapture DNA

Scanners benefit from Scanning DataCapture DNA. It allows remote configuration, enhancing user-friendliness, providing better guidance, and facilitating intuitive operation, among other features.

Print DNA

Zebra Print DNA is based on Link-OS, the most intelligent printer operating system in the industry. It enables location-independent implementation and management of entire printer fleets, simplifies pairing with other devices, and supports the emulation of various printer languages.

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