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Intel, OATSystems Form Retail Initiative

The two companies are offering a software and integration package to retailers seeking to deploy RFID.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
May 26, 2005Intel and OATSystems have teamed up to offer a package of RFID software and integration services to retailers seeking to deploy RFID. The two companies say they have formed the co-marketing agreement, called the Retail RFID Leadership Initiative, in order to encourage adoption of RFID by retailers that want to begin using the technology to gain competitive advantage by improving store inventory and developing a more collaborative supply chain with suppliers and distributors.

The two companies will help retailers achieve these goals by deploying the OAT Foundation Suite, OATSystems' RFID software platform, coupled with systems integration services from Intel Solution Services, the Santa Clara, Calif. chipmaker's professional services arm. The OAT Foundation Suite includes a set of software products that include OATxpress, for EPC number management; OATlogic, an RFID design environment; and OATaxiom, which provides central management of enterprise-wide RFID initiatives.

In addition to providing software, OAT will work directly on the retail implementations with Intel, taking an early role in consulting with retailers to determine how they can achieve the best initial return on investment. OAT will also collaborate with Intel on project management throughout the deployment, thereby sharing some of the systems integration responsibilities.

"The partnership came together because we found ourselves working together for a handful of retailers, where Intel was providing a lot of high-level consulting expertise and some implementation expertise, as well as deploying the OAT Foundation Suite platform," says Jon Karlen, director of product marketing, OATSystems, based in Waltham, Mass. Karlen notes that Intel and OATSystems are currently collaborating on RFID implementations for three of the top 20 retailers in the United States, in which the two companies are already performing the roles prescribed in the Retail RFID Leadership Initiative. "By announcing this initiative, we are putting a stake in the ground to say that OAT and Intel are committed to go after the retail market together," says Karlen.

Karlen explains that working with retailers differs from working with consumer package goods companies or other entities that are under an RFID mandate, because retailers are not trying to reach a set list of requirements. "Retailers know that their competitors are using RFID, but they don't always know where to get started."

Through the initiative, Intel and OAT will work with retailers to identify each retailer's most immediate needs and where deploying RFID will most benefit them, both in the short and long terms. "This initiative provides a packaged, scaleable software platform and the expertise to show retailers what their long-term deployment plan should look like," Karlen says.

Intel will also recommend to the retailer what hardware components it should use for the deployment and leverage the experience Intel has garnered with the OAT Foundation Suite, having deployed it for a number of retailer clients already.

"Several early adopter retailers are looking for the initial benefits [from RFID] in the same areas. They're initially focusing on developing accurate inventory records for their goods in the back room. That's the [retailer's] point of maximum chaos today," he says. Often, a retailer's inventory system will show a quantity of stock should be on hand, but it can't be found in the back room. RFID can help retailers know what is in their back rooms based on reads of tags attached to cases or single products that move through choke points, such as the dock doors or the door to the front of the store.

Karlen claims that by deploying OAT software and relying on Intel's integration services to help it deploy an RFID tracking system, a retailer can know its current back room inventory levels of tagged goods at all times. This can reduce the over-ordering of goods, which many retailers do when they can't locate stock that their enterprise systems say they should have. Karlen says once the retailer installs readers at the dock doors of a store, the OAT platform can also be used by a retailer to automate the verification of shipment receipts from their vendors, collect tag data as shipments arrive and then compare that data with information from the supplier's advance shipping notice.

"OAT and Intel Solution Services have developed a proven approach for identifying tactical and strategic opportunities to drive ROI in RFID deployments in the retail industry," said Andrew Moore, Intel Solution Services' director of services line management, in a statement. "Intel is working with OAT because of the company's unique experience delivering scalable, ROI-based solutions to many of the retailers driving industry adoption of RFID.

The companies' software and integration package is available to retailers immediately, though neither Intel nor OAT have announced any pricing structures.
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