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Expectations for RFID Journal LIVE! 2013

End users committed to significant RFID projects will be common at this year's conference and exhibition.
By Mark Roberti
Apr 28, 2013

Each spring, RFID Journal hosts RFID Journal LIVE!, the world's largest radio frequency identification conference and exhibition. The event is something of a barometer of the current state of the RFID industry. I usually write a column afterward to put into perspective what the event's mood and activities suggest regarding the state of the industry. This year, I'm going to say what I expect beforehand, and we'll see if I am right.

Attendance at this year's conference will be up for the first time since the financial collapse, which indicates that the RFID industry is gaining momentum. While many company budgets are still tight, increased attendance suggests that a growing number of people see RFID as a potential solution to some business issues they face. I also believe attendees will be more committed to investing in an RFID solution than in the past.

A little historical perspective might be in order before I explain why I say this. During the mid-2000s, when Walmart put RFID on every businessperson's radar, a lot of people came to our events to see what the technology was all about. A lot left feeling RFID was not a solution mature enough for their business (in those days, for example, you couldn't get an ultrahigh-frequency tag to work on metal objects).

As time went on, fewer people came just to learn about the technology, and after the 2008 financial collapse, most companies that attended the event had a clear idea of the business issues they wanted to solve using RFID. Exhibitors would tell me, "There were fewer tire-kickers here, which is a good thing."

I think two things have been changing during the past couple of years that should come into focus this year. The first is that some companies are deploying RFID across the enterprise. So instead of looking at RFID to track a few thousand tools or containers, companies are now investing in much larger systems.

We will, for example, have a panel session from the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS), the group that includes Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter. During that session, Carlo Nizam, Airbus' head of value chain visibility and RFID, will put up a slide showing the growth in projects within the group during the past few years. I don't want to steal his thunder, but adoption is clearly accelerating at EADS.

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