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The Network Effect

Companies that have adopted radio frequency identification want to get everyone—including their competitors—on board.
By Mark Roberti
Oct 24, 2016

Recently, I have spoken with several companies that are years into their deployments of radio frequency identification, and each time the topic of conversation turns to how they can get more businesses to adopt RFID. You see, the firms most committed to using the technology to improve the way they do business understand that the greatest benefits come when suppliers tag at the source—and suppliers will only do that when enough of their customers are using RFID.

In retail, Macy's has been vocal in discussing the benefits it is achieving with RFID. Bill Connell, the company's senior VP of logistics and operations, recently spoke at our RFID in Retail and Apparel event, held in New York City. Pam Sweeney, Macy's senior VP of logistics, has also spoken at many public events. And Macy's has been part of peer-to-peer meetings hosted by GS1. Macy's understands that if more retailers use RFID, more of its suppliers will tag goods at the source and Macy's can take even greater advantage of the technology.

Carlo Nizam, who ran Airbus' value chain visibility and RFID program before moving to a new role focused on the Internet of Things and innovation, spoke regularly at RFID events, as well as at some aerospace events. His goal was to encourage more companies in the aerospace sector to use RFID, because that would benefit Airbus and its parent company, EADS.

RFID Journal has tried to assist in this process of socializing RFID. We have given companies a platform by having them speak at our events. We have hosted roundtable breakfast meetings for retailers each year in conjunction with RFID Journal LIVE! Europe. We've held a similar luncheon for retailers at our RFID Journal LIVE! conference in the United States. At our recent RFID in Aerospace and Defense event, we provided a room for a group within the U.S. Department of Defense to hold a meeting, and we hope to do the same in May 2017 at our next LIVE! event, being held in Phoenix, Ariz.

There will be a network effect with RFID—as more companies adopt the technology, it will become even more valuable and more companies will want to adopt it. Our goal is to help facilitate adoption, first and foremost, by providing the education companies need—but also by helping to facilitate communication among those who want to use the technology. Often, employees within the same firm don't know what others in their industry are doing. Our visitors sometimes read articles about projects in their own company that they didn't know existed, and then ask me to put them in touch with the project leaders so they can share ideas.

I'm happy to do this. I am happy to provide meeting space at RFID Journal LIVE! so businesses can talk to their suppliers privately, or companies can talk to other companies in their industry. I am happy to help facilitate these discussions because they will lead to wider adoption—and wider adoption means more benefits for everyone.

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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