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The Long March Begins

RFID Journal's sold out executive conference this week marks a beginning in the journey toward the successful use of RFID technology.
By Mark Roberti
Mar 29, 2004This week, more than 750 people will converge on the stately Hilton Hotel in Chicago for RFID Journal Live! 2004, which promises to be a unique conference in many ways. It is the largest gathering ever of end users, speakers and sponsors for three days of intense learning and open discussion about RFID technology. Attendees will not be hearing about the theoretical
benefits of RFID and the expected obstacles that need to be overcome before RFID can be deployed in the supply chain. For the first time, they will be hearing about actual deployments from early adopters.

RFID Journal Live! 2004 has lined up some 75 speakers—and they are not just any speakers. Virtually all of them have been involved with, consulted on or implemented real-world RFID projects. For instance, we'll hear from Ed Coyle, head of the U.S. Department of Defense Logistics' Automatic Identification Technology Office, who has been involved with the military's use of RFID for several years. Coyle will explain the DOD's RFID policy and how it plans to move from tracking shipping containers to tracking pallets, cases and eventually, individual items.

We'll also hear from Stephen Moody, the RFID program coordinator at the U.S. Army's Combat Feeding Directorate, who will detail a major pilot the DOD recently undertook to prove that its approach to RFID will provide real-world benefits. The pilot is the subject of this week's featured story (see Vendor to Foxhole Tracking).

Among the other speakers who will be talking about major implementations or pilots are:

• Rick Pople, general manager of NYK Logistics
• Steve Van Fleet, director of smart packaging at International Paper
• Randall Walker, director of aviation at McCarran International Airport
• Gerd Wolfram, director of IT strategy at Metro AG
• David Mezzanotte, president of CHEP USA

There will be many other great speakers, including executives from Campbell Soup, Kimberly Clark and Procter & Gamble, who will share the knowledge they gleaned during pilots and planned implementations. RFID Journal Live! 2004 posted its impressive roster of expert speakers and panelists. Given the conference was sold out weeks ago, it’s clear that end users know that they will be getting real value for their money.

There will be no hyping of RFID technology. In fact, I think the main message of the three-day event will be that we are in the very early stages of what will be a difficult, intense and fast-paced journey. There's still so much to do to finalize standards, improve the performance of the technology, develop architectures that can scale and to build new kinds of software systems that can turn real-time RFID data into information that can be acted upon.

RFID is not a panacea, and it will take a lot of hard work to achieve the much-touted benefits. But I know more than a few executives, consultants and vendors who are energized by the challenges ahead. We're excited, as well, to have the chance to report on this important technology, and to be able to share objective, unbiased information with tens of thousands of loyal readers. I thank you for your support and the trust you've put in RFID Journal. We will continue to work hard to deliver the high quality information and education you've come to expect from us.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below.

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