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Suddenly, RFID Is Hot

Or maybe it's just getting warmer—but I'm seeing a lot of anecdotal evidence that interest in the technology is growing.
By Mark Roberti
Sep 20, 2010I recently wrote about the optimism expressed by some leading radio frequency identification technology providers during a roundtable meeting hosted by Avery Dennison (see Inside an RFID Industry Roundtable). I've spoken to many RFID hardware, software and service providers in the past few weeks, and virtually all have indicated their business is picking up. This is true for providers of both passive and active technologies.

A representative of one tag manufacturer, knowing I subscribe to Geoffrey Moore's theories of technology adoption (see The (RFID) World According to Moore, Moore Has Spoken—Were RFID Vendors Listening and Geoffrey Moore Discusses RFID Adoption Strategies), said, "I don't know if we're in the tornado, but the wind sure is whipping up."

We're getting more questions submitted by end users to our Ask the Experts forum, and a lot of people are calling me directly for advice on a particular application, or about which type of RFID to use or which vendors to engage. Last week, for example, I spoke to a gentleman who works for a U.K. apparel company that is building a new factory in India and wants to RFID-enable the facility from the start. I also spoke with a gentleman selling Oriental carpets who wanted advice on tags, as well as with the VP of operations at a company that manufactures security equipment, who was seeking to understand the business case for using RFID in his operations.

This is not being driven by a rising economic tide, so what's happening? I can't say for sure, but I get the sense that projects put on hold in late 2008 and 2009 are now getting the go-ahead, and new projects are being approved because companies understand that revenue is likely to be flat this year and next year, and possibly in 2012 as well. The blow to the economy in 2008 was huge. Trillions of dollars of wealth were wiped out, and millions of people became unemployed. Even those with jobs are spending less to pay down debt, so there is little consumer demand to drive the economy.

With revenue flat, the best way to increase profits is to cut costs. And that's where RFID comes in. Companies are considering the money they waste replacing lost containers, tools and other assets, and want to do a better job of tracking them. They look at the labor that goes into managing their inventory and believe (rightly so) that RFID can help them reduce it. They know how much inventory is being stolen in the supply chain, and they want to stop that theft.

USER COMMENTS

Kevin Payne 2010-09-24 09:05:01 AM
Senior Director of Marketing, Intelleflex I agree...the number and variety of applications and uses for RFID seem to be growing by the day. To your point, ISO 18000-6 Class 3 will define the standard for battery assisted passive RFID which delivers much more powerful capabilities at a fraction of the cost of active RFID...this standard should further accelerate growth as new applications become cost-effective.

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