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Eat Your Own Dog Food

RFID technology providers could create greater confidence in RFID's benefits by more aggressively using the technology internally.
By Mark Roberti
Nov 19, 2007Over the past few weeks, senior executives at four major companies that provide radio frequency identification products and services have asked me how we can jumpstart the adoption of RFID technologies. They've expressed frustration about the lack of volume in the marketplace—a lot of companies are piloting RFID, but few are conducting large-scale rollouts. So, they've asked, how do we get the marketing moving? My answer: Eat your own dog food.

If you've been around the technology sector for a while, you know that the term "eat our own dog food" was much in vogue in the 1990s. Technology companies used it to convey to customers, and the market, that they were using their own products to the benefit of their business—as in "we eat our own dog food."

According to Wikipedia (not the most reliable source, I know), the term originated with an Alpo commercial in which Lorne Greene claimed the product was so good he gave it to his own dogs. It was used within Microsoft in the late 1980s as the company pushed departments to use its business products, then spread to the wider technology market (see Wikipedia's Eating One's Own Dog Food page).

If companies that sell RFID hardware and software used the technology internally to track work-in-process in their manufacturing operations, as well as shipments of hardware, software and even other products they make, that would lead to several benefits. It would also allow them to quantify these benefits and share them with customers, and that would give end users in other industries more confidence in the technology. It could also help to drive up the volume of tags consumed, potentially driving down the cost and, thus, making the technology more affordable. (Even though there are many applications that deliver a return on investment at today's tag costs, the perception among many potential users is that the cost of tags is still too high.)

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