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Reflections on RFID Journal LIVE! 2015

Based on last week's event, it is clear that the state of the RFID industry is strong and adoption continues to gain momentum.
By Mark Roberti
Apr 21, 2015

Each year, particularly since the financial collapse of 2008, I have looked at RFID Journal LIVE! as a leading indicator of trends for radio frequency identification products, services and adoption. The Great Recession had a chilling effect on investment in new technologies, including RFID. Companies that had serious business issues that only RFID could solve still attended the event, but most other firms put their RFID projects on hold.

Attendance at LIVE! 2009 fell to 2,400, from a peak of 3,000 in 2008. For the next three years, attendance remained at around 2,500. Things began to change in 2013. That year, attendance rose by approximately 3 percent, and it increased by roughly 5 percent last year. This year, attendance rose by 8 percent, and we topped 3,000 people for the first time since 2008. If we don't have another recession or some other external issue, I believe RFID adoption will continue to accelerate, and growth in attendance at LIVE! along with it.

A growing number of companies now understand RFID and what it can do. No one I spoke to prior to or at the event questioned the price of the technology or whether it would work. They came to find a solution.

The feedback I received from exhibitors was overwhelmingly positive. Two solution providers told me that traffic at their booths was double last year's. Most exhibitors said booth traffic was up from 2014, and that the quality of the conversations was better. The typical comment went something like this: "Mark, outstanding event. Congratulations. The traffic to our booth is good. We are talking to more end users and the conversations we are having are fantastic. Great show."

More attendees purchased higher-level registration passes this year. The number of All-Access Passes (the highest level), for example, rose by 25 percent from last year. This reflects improving economic conditions, but also suggests companies are getting more serious about learning about RFID.

During the RFID Strategic Workshop that I delivered on the last afternoon of the conference, one gentleman came up to me and said: "It's interesting to see how other companies in our industry are using the technology, but it's even more interesting to see how people in other industries are using it. We can borrow ideas from them and really innovate."

If you're familiar with Gartner's Hype Cycle, you know that technologies are hyped up, and that when they fail to deliver, they fall into the "trough of disillusionment." Over time, solutions improve, the technology matures and people figure out how it can deliver value.

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