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A Practical Approach at EPC Connection

Attendees at EPCglobal's fourth annual conference and exhibition were focused on practical applications for EPC technologies that can deliver benefits today.
By Mark Roberti
Oct 15, 2007Journalists often get detached from their subject matter. When I was the managing editor of news at CMP's InformationWeek magazine, I rarely attended conferences (travel budgets were limited), and I had little or no interaction with readers. Our reporters conducted phone interviews, but they didn't get much opportunity to travel or hear what was on the minds of the people they wrote for.

One of the nice things about hosting face-to-face events, in addition to producing a magazine and a Web site, is that RFID Journal reporters and editors get to interact with the vendors and end users we write for on a regular basis. Such events provide an opportunity to gauge the temperature of this industry (and it can change dramatically, based on such vagaries as the Wall Street Journal's spin on how many distribution centers Wal-Mart has RFID-enabled, for instance) and to hear from RFID early adopters and fast followers, and even those in a wait-and-see mode. We get to hear which applications end users are excited about, the obstacles they face and how and where they are moving forward. End users also get to share this information with one another and with vendors.

EPC Connection 2007, EPCglobal's fourth annual conference and exhibition, was held last week in Chicago. This year, we co-produced the event with EPCglobal. More than 1,000 people attended, including many Fortune 500 companies (view a list of some of the companies represented at the show).

So what was the mood of the end-user community? I would say it was "business-like"—and let me explain that. In the early days of RFID, there was a sense of excitement at events, a pervasive feeling that everyone was part of a new and exciting technology that would revolutionize the supply chain (we were in the "Peak of Inflated Expectations" stage of Gartner's hype cycle for a new technology).

Then, 18 months to two years ago, early adopters realized RFID adoption was going to be a lot harder than they'd thought. Tags didn't function properly, read rates were low and costs were high. We slid into the "Trough of Disillusionment."

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