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December 7, 2020


2021 – The key trends set to impact the labeling market

by Ken Moir

As we look ahead to what 2021 has in store, organizations are increasingly looking for integrated solutions for everything from artwork management to factory labeling and direct marking. As a result, the move to convergence is the trend we expect to change the face of the labeling market.

This convergence is supported by the ongoing rollout of centralized 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 labeling industry. The move to online remote centralized management of labeling is helping 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. Labeling 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 labeling. This is something that we have seen in 2020 and expect to continue through 2021 and beyond. The changes labeling 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 labeling in the cloud as businesses move their labeling operations off-premise.

Moreover, regulated industries like life sciences, that 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 solutions that enable 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 labeling, organizations 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.

Looking forward

As businesses consider their labeling needs for 2021, they not only need to start moving to the cloud but also to standardize, centralize 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 labeling and label management industries. The convergence and digital transformation of the sector, including the acceleration of the move to cloud will shake up the labeling and label management markets of not only next year, but many to follow.

Find out how your business can benefit from cloud-based label management system – visit the Label Cloud page.