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Good Strategy for a Bad Economy
Former GE CEO Jack Welch says a bad economic climate is the best time to invest in new technologies.
May 19, 2008—As I've been watching cable news and reading the business pages of The New York Times, I've been thinking a lot about Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of General Electric. Welch used to say that when the economy headed south, companies should not reduce spending on research and development, or on the use of new technologies. Instead, he maintained, they should increase spending. Why? Because competitors likely would cut back, so it would be a great opportunity for a company to put some space between it and its rivals.
At the moment, it's too early to say how bad this current economic cycle will be; no two economists seem to agree on that point. It's also too soon to determine whether companies will pull back on investing in new technologies. Judging by what I witnessed at last month's RFID Journal LIVE! 2008 event, however, I'd say most companies are not trimming their investments in radio frequency identification—at least, not yet.
But smart companies are not just seeking out the quick wins. They are deploying RFID in line with a corporate RFID strategy that separates them from their competitors. I'm thinking of Wal-Mart/Sam's Club, Airbus, Kimberly-Clark, Procter & Gamble and a few others. These companies are not taking a project-by-project approach—rather, they are plotting an RFID strategy that will enable them to build an infrastructure that can deliver increased benefits over the years.
It's important to have an overarching strategy, because that lets you build an RFID infrastructure with an integrated data management system able to support multiple applications. If you don't take a strategic approach, you could wind up with many different systems that provide some benefits but don't work together, and that don't allow you to build more applications across them as RFID becomes more widely adopted.
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