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A Call for Patience Among RFID Investors

Adoption has been slower than many would like, but rash changes could make the situation worse.
By Mark Roberti
May 22, 2016

I bumped into an old friend earlier this month at RFID Journal LIVE! 2016, while in the hotel lobby. We chatted a bit about how everything is going for both of us. I asked how his colleague Larry (not his real name) was doing. "Larry got canned," he said.

"Wow," I replied. "He's been with you guys for more than eight years. What happened?"

"Investors were leaning on the CEO to generate faster growth," my friend said. "The CEO had to do something, so Larry was the fall guy."

"This is not a sales problem," I said. "It's a marketing problem."

My friend nodded. "You know that, and I know that, and our CEO knows that," he said. "But the investors don't want to hear that. They want a return on their investment."

I've seen this kind of thing before. Investors back an RFID company and then, when the sales don't suddenly materialize, management comes under pressure to change the marketing approach, marketing personnel or marketing strategy. The problem is that this almost always does more harm than good.

Years ago, when RFID first went into the chasm and news stories turned negative, some vendors shied away from calling themselves RFID vendors. They used vague terms like "sensor networks." I didn't think marketing RFID as sensor networks would boost sales, and history has proved me right.

More recently, I've heard RFID companies calling themselves Internet of Things companies. The IoT is hot right now, so I get the logic. But the IoT is going into the chasm just as RFID did—just as all new technologies do—so it's quite possible that an RFID company could reposition itself as an IoT provider just as that technology goes into the chasm and RFID starts to catch on.


Leslie Downey 2016-05-27 11:08:11 AM
Interesting! I appreciate Mark's candor.

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