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Battling the Status Quo

The biggest obstacle end users face when confronted with an opportunity to use RFID to improve the way they do business is resistance to change within their own organizations.
By Mark Roberti
Feb 08, 2010I typed the word "innovation" into the search engine at Fortune.com, and found 3,238 articles and videos. Forbes.com doesn't display the number of articles returned by a search query, but I found page after page of articles with such titles as "Innovation Beyond Apple," "The Way to Innovate to Beat Radical Discontinuity" and "The Healing Power of Innovation." And when I surf CNBC and Fox Business News, those sites are always lauding innovative companies.

But according to the books I've been reading to understand why the adoption of radio frequency identification is taking longer than many expected, innovation isn't appreciated within most organizations. The books suggest the adoption problem lies not with RFID technology, but with resistance to change.


Mike Shiff of RFID Recruiters suggested I read Geoffrey Moore's Inside the Tornado, the follow-up to his bestseller, Crossing the Chasm, which explained how new technologies go from being adopted by a handful of technology enthusiasts to becoming mainstream. Inside the Tornado, published in 1995, outlined the business strategies technology companies need to embrace in order to survive the pre-adoption phase for their technology, and then how to take advantage of the hyper-growth phase.

What struck me was Moore's explanation of the status quo, and why it's the biggest obstacle to adoption of any new technology. For all of the lip service given to innovation, most companies are wedded to the status quo, and don't want to change until they have to. This makes sense. CEOs don't know the issues that front-line workers face in managing inventory, and if they do, it's not their biggest concern; CIOs want to protect their networks and avoid change; and CFOs never want to spend money on new technology.

So the only way a new technology gets adopted at a company is when there is either a high-level technology enthusiast willing to take a risk, or someone with a compelling need lobbies for change. For this person, the status quo is not acceptable, because too many assets get lost, operations aren't performed as effectively as they should be or whatever.

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