About Our Editorial Policy

By Mark Roberti

We focus on the business benefits of RFID, and we do not discriminate for or against any particular type of radio frequency identification technology.


I was speaking to an exhibitor at our recent RFID Journal LIVE! Europe 2010 conference and exhibition, which took place in Darmstadt, Germany, on Nov. 2-4. He made the comment that RFID Journal favors passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) systems over high-frequency (HF) technology.

Another provider of radio frequency identification systems submitted a comment in response to our recent survey to determine the topics we should cover at RFID Journal LIVE! 2011, to be held in Orlando, Fla., on Apr. 12-14. “Sessions should focus less on technology and more on business,” this individual wrote. “Businesspeople need to learn how this technology can benefit their companies.”

I’ve heard similar comments before, so I thought I would set the record straight. Let me address the latter issue first, as we are currently in the process of putting together the program for next year’s LIVE! conference. Our events, like our Web site, are devoted to explaining and reporting on the business benefits that companies are achieving with RFID. In every article, we try to include the type of technology used, because this helps companies that might want to achieve the same benefits, and we also ask event speakers to include this information in their presentations. But first and foremost, we look for news stories and topic sessions at our events that explain the technology’s business benefits.

If you consider the presenters we have recruited so far for LIVE! 2011 (here’s a list), you’ll see some speaker titles, such as CIO, director of IS operations, and chief of logistics technology integration division. But you’ll see many more titles that have nothing to do with technology—CEO, director of supply chain operations, director of pharmacy, dynamic response manager, safety coordinator, facility manager and so forth. These are businesspeople discussing business benefits (the CIOs and technologists also talk about the benefits).

I’m not sure where vendors get the idea that we’re focused on RFID technology. Our sessions all have titles such as “Using RFID to Improve Order Management and Inventory Accuracy,” “How NASCAR Uses RFID to Authenticate Auto Parts” and “Improving Inventory Accuracy and Reducing Labor Costs With RFID.” In other words, we’re focused on the business benefits, not the technology. And most people who attend our events come from manufacturing, operations, supply chain and so forth, with only about 15 percent coming from the IT sector. (This is true of our print magazine and Web site readers as well—most are businesspeople, not technologists.)

It’s ironic that vendors would think we focus too much on technology, because I think they are the ones who do just that. They understand that they need to be selling the business benefits their solutions provide, which is why they want us to focus on those benefits—but the moment many of them meet a businessperson, they talk about why their technology is better than that of their competitors, which is the last thing a businessperson cares about. So to those who say we are too focused on technology, I say, “Take a look in the mirror.”

As for the belief that we favor some types of RFID over others, I’m at a loss to explain that. I have written repeatedly that RFID is a tool that companies can use to achieve benefits, and that just as there are different types of saws for cutting, there are different types of RFID for identifying and tracking. Saying we favor one technology over another is like saying we favor table saws over circular saws—it makes no sense.

We write about all types of RFID, and we recruit speakers without thought as to which type of technology they use. Many speakers, including those from Airbus, Boeing and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), employ both active and passive RFID systems. If we happen to write more articles about one type of RFID than another, it’s only because there are more interesting uses of that technology type. We don’t, for instance, write about every library using RFID—but that’s not because libraries are using HF systems. Rather, it’s because the applications are fairly similar, and there is little benefit to reading about the same type of deployment over and over.

If we are against anything, it is bad uses of the technology. We wouldn’t advocate utilizing a $50 active tag to track a pack of gum, or a Near Field Communication (NFC) tag to find a piece of pipe in a lay-down yard, because there would be no business benefit for end users. And in the end, what RFID Journal has been single-mindedly focused on is helping companies figure out how to use RFID to achieve business benefits.

Businesspeople get this. For the life of me, I just don’t understand why some RFID vendors don’t.

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 the Editor’s Note archive.