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The Image of the IoT vs. RFID

Many people see Internet of Things technologies in a positive light, despite problems, but do not view RFID the same way. The question is: Why?
By Mark Roberti

Another reason IoT technologies are still seen in a positive light is that they are relatively easy to deploy (we've been connecting computers to the Internet for more than two decades) and don't involve a lot of business-process change. For example, if you put an IoT device inside a heating and ventilation unit you sell to customers, you simply need to set up software to monitor the data and alert someone if, say, the level of vibrations in the unit changes, which could indicate that maintenance is requried.

Passive RFID systems use weak radio waves that can be blocked or interfered with, and when poorly trained technicians with little knowledge of RFID systems install these, they tend not to work well. Failed projects end up being talked about, and the technology is viewed negatively.

Another thing that benefits IoT technologies is that the IoT has some very large companies pushing it. For each negative story an executive reads about IoT technologies, he or she might see half a dozen ads from Cisco, IBM and others portraying the IoT in a positive light. RFID, by contrast, has had almost no TV exposure (though IBM did run a few RFID ads before the technology went into the chasm).

RFID has suffered from a lack of leadership. No association has been out promoting the technology or combatting negative stereotypes. Large technology firms ran away from RFID as soon as it went into the chasm. They will come back as RFID adoption spreads, of course, but the fact that they have not been promoting the benefits of the technology has slowed RFID adoption.

The use of IoT technologies might, in some cases, supersede RFID adoption in some industries. Manufacturers might install sensors in factory machines before they tag all their parts, bins, raw materials and other things. But true digital transformation cannot be achieved until companies tag all of the physical assets within their facilities with RFID transponders—and the real value of the Internet of Things will not be realized until companies embrace RFID.

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 or the Editor's Note archive.

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