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RFID Continues to Move Toward Mass Adoption

A post-event survey of end users who attended RFID Journal LIVE! 2014 reveals the RFID market is maturing and the technology is moving toward critical mass.
By Mark Roberti
May 12, 2014

I am often asked when I think radio frequency identification technology will reach mass adoption, and my standard answer is that it will take off when a critical mass of companies in a given industry embrace the technology. I don't know exactly when that will be, but I do believe we are getting ever closer each year. Further evidence of this comes in the form of survey responses from end users who attended the RFID Journal LIVE! 2014 conference and exhibition, held last month in Orlando, Fla.

We asked end users what their primary reason was for attending the event. In the past, the reason most cited was a desire to understand the business value or solve a specific business problem. This year, just 2 percent of the 129 end users who responded to the survey said they came to understand the business value of RFID. Roughly 15 percent indicated they were looking to solve a business problem, while a surprising 43 percent said they wanted to keep up with the latest technology innovations.

Approximately 60 percent of end users surveyed said they planned to purchase RFID hardware, software or services from exhibitors they met at the event. Another 32 percent said they were unsure whether they would. On the flipside, 70 percent of exhibitors who responded said they generated new, high-quality business leads at the conference, with almost 50 percent expecting to sign contracts with end users they met there. Another 26 percent of exhibitor respondents said they were still evaluating their leads.

These numbers clearly show the RFID market is maturing. End users are attending LIVE! in larger numbers, and with concrete plans to deploy systems. These early adopters understand the business value and the basics of how RFID systems work. They still don't know which companies have the products that meet their needs, though, and this continues to be a drag on adoption.

This year, we made a big push to encourage exhibitors to reach out to select end users to let them know they have solutions that might be of interest, and to request meetings via RFID Connect. Unfortunately, only 28 percent of exhibitors sent meeting requests to end users attending the event. This means they lost out on potential business, but it also means that some end users didn't find the products they need for their application.

What I expect to see during the next couple of years is a continued expansion of this core group of companies that "get" RFID. As that group expands, we will hit critical mass in one industry—I'm betting on retail apparel—and that will speed up adoption in other industries until they, too, reach critical mass. As adoption accelerates, solution providers will invest in new innovations that will foster more adoption. And before too long, RFID will become ubiquitous.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.

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