What major trends are taking place in the AIDC (automatic identification and data capture) industry?

The global automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) market is in a remarkable place right now. Following a period of steady and assured growth in recent years, the sector currently finds itself looking ahead to what promises to be a period of unprecedented expansion and opportunity for those operating within it.

So, how has the AIDC market performed to date, where is it heading, and what factors will be driving this anticipated growth?

Between 2015-2020, growth within the sector continued to rise year on year to become valued at over $37 billion. Then the pandemic came, but this was not the death knell of the sector that many had presumed it would be. Growth did slow during 2020, which was to be expected.

However, as economies began to emerge from a state of lockdown something rather remarkable began to happen: demand surged and exceeded pre-pandemic levels in a remarkably short period of time. The impact of COVID-19 on the AIDC market was less an inhibitor and more an accelerator.

There are a number of key reasons for this.

With much trading effectively placed on hiatus during the height of the pandemic, many businesses took this opportunity to step up their digital transformation plans – a lot which had been earmarked for a later date.

Then there was the growing importance among consumers to protect their personal data. This led to a sharp rise in the number of financial services organisations implementing solutions such as biometrics and smart cards that would provide an extra layer of security that would act as a first line of defence.

At the same time, healthcare providers recognised the potential of AIDC systems in giving patients greater visibility of the information held on them, whilst enhancing their own ability to capture patient data more efficiently. IMARC talk about “favourable government initiatives promoting the adoption of AIDC solutions” as being a major catalyst for sector growth, and they are of course right.

Healthcare providers are under intense pressure to mitigate medication errors, improve response times for caregivers, and reduce associated costs – areas that can all be improved with the integration of AIDC systems.

Healthcare and financial services aside, other areas of the economy are using systems such as scanners and tags to great effect – think sport and leisure, logistics, education, manufacturing, and of course retail.

Against this backdrop, it is easy to see how the AIDC market is very much on the rise. So much so that analysts put the current value of the global market at £43.7 billion. By 2027, however, that figure is predicted to reach a staggering $95.8 billion (IMARC) with others being more adventurous with their numbers with the suggestion that it could even be worth $121 billion (Borasi et al, 2021).

Driving much of this will be developments in emerging markets and notably the Asia-Pacific region. Indeed, barcode, RFID, smart city and biometric technologies are on the rise thanks to a combination of greater awareness and adoption of AIDC devices as well as legislative amendments and government investments. This is especially the case in Japan and Singapore.

While it is easy to get carried away in a wave of positivity, there are also possible barriers to growth too. For instance, the relatively high-capital outlay required to develop and roll out RFID and biometric systems coupled with a general lack of awareness (possibly even demand, too) could be challenging for many developing nations.

Whichever way one looks at it, exponential growth of the AIDC market is assured. In fact, few areas of the economy are likely to more than double in size within a relatively short period of time. The possibilities for organisations operating within this space are tantalising as to the career development opportunities for those who make their living within it.

As an executive search firm that has operated in this space for more years that we care to admit, we have never seen the AIDC sector perform as well as it is now, nor have we experienced the rapid rate of growth it is about to enjoy over the next five years. If you are seeking your next opportunity or hire in this space, we would love to help you.


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