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Getting Buy-in From the Top

By Mark Roberti
Apr 01, 2010Over the years, more than a few executives have told me they'd piloted an RFID system that either solved a business problem or delivered a clear benefit—only to have someone at the top kill the project. That's probably not unusual with any emerging technology. Senior management has to balance a myriad of priorities and is almost always loath to take a risk on something new.

For our cover story, 6 Ways to Get Your RFID Project Approved, we spoke with businesspeople who managed to get funding for a rollout, to learn about the resistance they encountered and how they overcame it. One key piece of advice is to define the scope of the project. Because RFID is an enabling technology that can drive many benefits, projects tend to expand over time, which increases risk and makes the return on investment harder to define. Another good suggestion: Achieve small successes and build on them.

Airbus has undertaken an ambitious program to build out a complete RFID infrastructure—combining passive UHF technology and an active ultra-wideband system—to improve its manufacturing and supply-chain operations. But the aircraft maker is not going with a Big Bang approach. Instead, it's deploying the system in stages, achieving a clear benefit with each new project.

As our Vertical Focus shows, Airbus' success is driving adoption across the aerospace sector. Boeing has joined with Airbus to create standards for identifying parts and shipments with passive UHF tags, and the two companies are starting to require suppliers to tag parts (see RFID Finally Cleared for Takeoff).

Some of those suppliers, such as Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing, are using RFID to achieve internal benefits. At RFID Journal LIVE! 2010, Jeremy Mercer, Killdeer's chief engineer and IT director, will explain how tracking work in process has helped the company save more than $160,000 a year—so far.

Elsewhere in this issue, we look at what retailers need to know about Near-Field Communication (NFC), a relatively new type of RFID technology that enables consumers to use their mobile phones in stores to access product information from the Web, then pay for the items they want to purchase. Many believe NFC will help usher in a new age of mobile commerce that will benefit retailers and consumers alike. New applications could be used to advertise products to customers while they're shopping, manage loyalty programs and even leverage social networks to steer consumers to bars, restaurants and other venues (see What Retailers Need to Know About NFC Payment Systems).

These are all exciting advancements, and you may be wondering how long it will take for concepts being proven today to become commonplace. In our Perspective section (see The (RFID) World According to Moore and The Many Flavors of RFID), we analyze RFID adoption in nine industries, based on the theories posited by Geoffrey Moore in his bestseller Inside the Tornado. In some industries, RFID is close to achieving widespread adoption; in others, it's further away. As RFID continues to prove its mettle—and more projects get the stamp of approval—we'll see a growing number of deployments that solve real-world problems.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog or click here.
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