Collaboration Can Accelerate RFID Adoption
Competitors working together can speed up the adoption of radio frequency identification, by agreeing on standards and how to implement them—which benefits all players.
Jun 27, 2011—I've written a great deal about Geoffrey Moore's theory of the technology-adoption cycle, and I strongly believe he is right about many things. One issue he does not address in any significant way, however, is the role that collaboration among businesses plays in technology adoption. The tributes to Alan Haberman, who died recently (see Remembering Alan Haberman), got me thinking about this topic, and I'd like to share my thoughts.
Haberman, as his many obituaries pointed out, was the head of the industry committee in the 1960s that selected the type of bar code that would be used by the grocery industry. That committee, made up of executives from that sector, unified the industry behind a single bar-code standard, and helped to propel the technology's adoption.
When industry leaders get together and decide industry-wide that adoption will benefit everyone, collaboration can unify an industry around standards, and provide guidelines regarding how those benefits are implemented. This can greatly reduce the amount of time that it takes to achieve critical mass.
We're seeing this in apparel retail today. Most companies that tag clothing have chosen to use passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags based on GS1's Electronic Product Code (EPC) standards. Some are putting their own numbers in EPC tags. But industry leaders have realized that everyone will benefit if all apparel retailers and suppliers utilize EPC standards. That is why Dillard's, JCPenney, Jones Apparel, Macy's and Walmart are working together through the VICS Item-Level RFID Initiative (VILRI) to promote the adoption of EPC standards, and to agree on how they should be implemented.
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