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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

RFID has clearly emerged from the trough of disillusionment phase of the Gartner Hype Cycle and is now well up the Slope of Enlightenment, meaning more people are figuring out how to use it. I think we will see momentum accelerate until we reach the tipping point and adoption explodes. That's still a few years away. (Meanwhile, the Internet of Things is nearing the Peak of Inflated Expectations.)

There were some noticeable trends, too, in the types of attendees. There were more bar-code systems integrators and resellers than in past years. I talked to a few, who said their customers are asking about RFID more frequently now. They were coming to learn how to deploy RFID solutions, and to meet the vendors offering the tags and readers their customers will need. That's good news for RFID vendors, because it means the sales channel is expanding, which will further fuel growth.

There were folks from some new industries this year, particularly entertainment. I met a number of people from companies that print tickets for concerts, amusement parks and sporting events. They said their customers are interested in using RFID to reduce counterfeiting, which is a growing problem, and to develop interactive experiences for their attendees. This is good news as well, because it will drive up the volume of chips and inlays produced, which should reduce costs for everyone else.

Another positive sign was the increase in retailers at the event. Representatives from all major U.S. department stores, as well as a several specialty retailers, attended the event. There were quite a few European retailers in attendance as well. The numbers are still small compared to the total number of retailers globally. But clearly, more retailers believe they can benefit from RFID. I'm sure we'll see the number of retailers at the event grow next year.

There has been a lot of consolidation in the RFID industry during the past few years, as companies ran low on cash and could not generate sufficient cash flow to stay independent, or as investors grew impatient and forced a sale to get their money out. There is still more consolidation on the horizon, I believe, but companies with good RFID products and a little marketing should see their incomes rise, so the trend should begin to slow.

The RFID industry still has more work to do to get the technology to the tipping point. So in a few weeks, RFID Journal will host a webinar in which I will discuss what RFID companies need to do individually and collaboratively to move the industry forward. We'll know when we've reached the tipping point when I write, after a LIVE! event, that we had 10,000 attendees. I don't think we're many years away from that achievement.

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, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.

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