Editor’s Note: The following column by Josh Roffman, vice president of product management for Loftware, is part of Modern’s Other Voices column. The series features ideas, opinions and insights from end-users, analysts, systems integrators and OEMs. Click here to learn about submitting a column for consideration.

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Labeling has becoming a mission-critical component in the supply chain as companies continue to expand globally. A recent Enterprise Labeling Trends Survey identified the top five labeling trends based on input from more than 600 supply chain professionals from a wide range of leading global companies.

Trend 1: Demand for color labeling is increasing
To meet evolving regulatory, customer and corporate branding requirements, today’s global companies are pursuing enterprise software and color print technology. Companies also strive to eliminate the need for pre-printed label stock while reducing the occurrence of waste.

Trend 2: Labeling is everyone’s concern
Because labeling intersects the supply chain at all levels, companies are recognizing the importance of coordinating labeling. This involves multiple departments and requires specialized attention from stakeholders including IT, operations, regulatory, warehousing, supply chain, manufacturing, marketing and even sales. In many cases they are establishing labeling groups or roles to manage labeling. Centralized labeling solutions provide access to key sources of label data, and allow for standardization as businesses extend their reach across the global supply chain.

Trend 3: Customer-specific requirements continue to drive label changes
Nearly 60% of those polled reported their customer-specific labeling requirements have increased since last year. To meet these demands, organizations must quickly and efficiently manage complex, variable data and formatting on labels. An enterprise labeling solution allows business users to quickly and easily manage label design, offering flexibility to create and update labels without the help of IT resources.

Trend 4:  Data-driven labeling is imperative to comply with global regulations 
Regulations and the speed at which they change are continuing to have a significant impact on businesses today. Labeling must be both dynamic and data-driven for companies to quickly respond and avoid fines, supply chain disruptions and even loss of business.

Trend 5: Cloud and emerging deployment platforms impact labeling
Cloud and other emerging technology platforms continue to revolutionize the way companies conduct business and execute business processes. As companies continue to think differently about how applications will be delivered, they are at the same time beginning to think differently about how labeling is incorporated with their business and deployment models. As they centralize labeling to improve consistency, some companies are also looking to integrate labeling with existing cloud-based systems. They are increasingly looking for solutions that can be part of the adoption of this deployment model. Companies seeking global deployment for labeling are utilizing browser-based applications, which can dramatically reduce the burden of installing and maintaining labeling systems at individual locations.