Angst and Opportunity

By Bob Violino

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This year isn’t going to be much fun for many manufacturers. The reason: Change is hard. Suppliers are understandably anxious about the time and money they will need to invest in order to comply with the RFID requirements from the U.S. Department of Defense, Wal-Mart and presumably other big retailers. RFID Journal’s mission is to help companies cut costs and boost efficiencies by deploying RFID

technology. For that reason, we put together a package of cover stories in this inaugural edition of our print magazine to help suppliers comply with RFID mandates and achieve internal benefits.

The first article, “A Mandate for Change” (page 18), guides companies through the steps necessary to begin planning how they’ll meet tagging requirements while finding areas within their own businesses where RFID can deliver a return on investment. The second article, “Where the Benefits Are” (page 24), shows how five companies are already profiting from RFID technology in different areas of their business. The story also spells out some of the gains that companies may not have thought of, such as a reduction in workers’ compensation claims because of fewer repetitive stress injuries.

To give high-level executives insights into the big picture, we look at how RFID is transforming one company and one industry. Our case study, “Pallet Tracking Goes High Tech” (page 12), examines what CHEP, the global pallet provider, learned from conducting one of the world’s largest pilots of a UHF system in an open supply chain. “A Healthy Dose of RFID” (page 39) details how RFID technology is creating new efficiencies throughout the healthcare industry. And we answer the question on everyone’s mind: When will tag prices fall to a nickel? (See “The 5-Cent RFID Tag” on page 30.)

All of these articles have a common approach: They link the potential long-term benefits of RFID to practical benefits that companies are achieving today. This is critical because there’s been too much talk about RFID’s long-term potential and not enough focus on what it can and can’t be used for today. During the days of dot-com mania, businesspeople invested in Internet technologies in the belief that they would deliver remarkable gains. It was common to say of those who bought into the New Economy myth that he or she “drank the Kool-Aid,” a reference to the Jim Jones cult that committed mass suicide by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid. The term suggests a blind faith in technology.

I am a true believer in RFID’s ability to provide a return on investment for many applications and to one day provide the visibility to run companies in profoundly more efficient ways. I see it as the next stage in the evolution of IT, and something that will change companies for the better. But I don’t believe this blindly. I believe it because I’ve interviewed more than 100 companies using RFID today, and every one of them says the same thing: It provides more benefits than we expected because once we got the infrastructure installed, we found new ways to use it. RFID Journal will show you how to achieve the long-term vision of total visibility, one successful application at a time.

Mark Roberti

Founder and Editor