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Dallas Cowboys Kick Off New Infrastructure with RFID

eWeek reports on the new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system being planned for US football team the Dallas Cowboys. The ERP will be an overhaul of the existing technology infrastructure, and what else but RFID will play a leading role in the way the sporting franchise leverages technology to do business.
Tags: Retail
Oct 31, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

October 31, 2007—eWeek reports on the new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system being planned for US football team the Dallas Cowboys. The ERP will be an overhaul of the existing technology infrastructure, and what else but RFID will play a leading role in the way the sporting franchise leverages technology to do business.

At $1.5 billion, the Cowboys are one of the richest teams in the NFL. The revenue that contributes to that value is split across roughly 30 different businesses, including the football club itself and companies that do merchandising, oil and gas, and storage. A big part of the reason for the ERP is to better manage such a complex portfolio of revenue streams.

Cowboys head of technology Peter Walsh has his eye on deploying RFID in a number of areas, particularly inventory visibility and contactless ticketing. Improved inventorying will be especially important for the new stadium, slated to open in 2009 with seating capacity of 80,000.

"With the new stadium, it's right about three times the size of the current Texas Stadium," Walsh told eWeek. "Anything we do with RFID will be important [considering] that size and magnitude. We've been able to do a pilot for inventory accounts. RFID chips cut down on our account cycle time by 87 percent. We try to put that into manpower -- if I can press a button and all my merchandise says 'I am here' I can cut [that process] down to seconds rather than hours."

That RFID-enabled merchandising should go live next month, and Walsh plans to report on its benefits to the franchise owners by March of next year.

In terms of ticketing, Walsh is evaluating how RFID could yield better data about fans and patrons. "We're trying to figure out, is there value [in the ability to] download a ticket on a PDA or a season ticket holder card where an RFID chip passes a turnstile and it knows who [the customer] is, what seat they have. We're evaluating what really makes sense and what's too expensive."

In addition to making the numbers work, Walsh may have to contend with privacy concerns from fans that could chafe at feeling tracked within the stadium.

On the other hand, there is certainly precedent for RFID ticketing to sporting events. Perhaps the most renowned example is the 2006 World Cup in Germany, in which all three-million-plus tickets to the event came with an embedded RFID chip from Philips. FIFA, the association in charge of the event, cited anti-counterfeiting as the primary motivation for using the technology.

Read the full article from eWeek
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