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Predictions for RFID in 2013

It will be another year of steady progress and consolidation.
By Mark Roberti
Jan 07, 2013Every year, there are prognosticators who announce, "This is the year of RFID." So far, they have not been correct. The question on my mind is, "Is this the year in which RFID will cross the chasm?"

Those who follow this column know I am referring to Geoffrey Moore's term for when a technology crosses the gap between early adopters and mainstream technology users. It's closest to happening in apparel retail, but I don't think this is the year even in that industry. Let me explain why.

In Crossing the Chasm, Moore posits that several conditions must exist before a new technology will be widely adopted, including a problem that no other technology can solve, a single solution and a critical mass of end users. Typically, this critical mass coalesces around a single solution, making it relatively risk-free for other companies to follow. All apparel retailers have a problem managing complex inventory, and those piloting or rolling out RFID solutions have embraced ISO 18000-6C as the standard for tracking clothing.

RFID Journal has reported that 19 of the top 30 U.S. retailers are currently investigating, piloting or employing radio frequency identification (see The Secret Life of RFID), with many more doing so in Europe, Asia and Latin America. But it will likely take a year or two for those already rolling out RFID to reach full deployment (by that, I mean using it to track all items within all stores), and it will take time for those piloting the technology to begin rollouts. So in my view, RFID will not cross the chasm in apparel retail for another year or two (perhaps three if there are some setbacks).

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