May 08, 2017Throughout the past few weeks, I have had the chance to speak personally, or to correspond via email, with businesspeople from more than 50 companies who plan to attend this week's RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition, being held in Phoenix, Ariz. This was done through our Concierge service, by which we help firms find the exhibitors that can provide the technology they need for the business issue they are trying to address.
This is a rewarding part of my job, helping companies get the most out of LIVE! and guiding them toward a successful RFID deployment. It is also a very educational process for me, because I get to hear what people plan to use RFID for, and I get a sense of how companies are viewing the market.
When I first started doing these calls, many people would ask about the price of the tags and the performance of RFID solutions. "Can we read tags on metal components?" they would ask. "How will I know if all the tags were read?" was another common question. This past year, I didn't receive questions like that. People had very clear ideas about what they wanted to use RFID for, as well as the benefits they hoped to achieve. A good number had a sense of the type of RFID technology they needed to use. They just needed some help finding the exhibitors that offered those solutions.
This shows that the market is clearly evolving. Companies understand that RFID is a mature technology on which they can depend. This is, I believe, partly due to the myriad articles published by RFID Journal, which show the technology being used successfully.
For RFID to become a mainstream technology, two things need to happen. First, it needs to become a bit easier to deploy. Having solved the problem of reading tags consistently, I believe the RFID solution providers are now focused on simplifying deployments. That's a good thing.
Second, we need to reach a critical mass of users within a single industry. I believe retail apparel will be first, because it is the farthest along. Once enough retailers are using RFID, it will make sense for the large apparel suppliers to tag everything, and once they do that, it will make sense for all other retailers to adopt in order to take advantage of the tags already placed on clothing—and then the entire industry will embrace the technology.
Once that happens, RFID will spread to other retail sectors. Prices will come down even more, vendors will invest more in innovation and other sectors will start adopting en masse. It's difficult to predict how long this will take, but we are well on the way toward mass adoption.
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, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.