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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
Even in the media and entertainment sector, where key players launched an ambitious pilot to tag and track individual DVDs, the focus was on benefits (see Wal-Mart, Best Buy Spearhead DVD-Tagging Pilot). We had a great panel with Best Buy, Handleman, Technicolor and Wal-Mart explaining how they planned and launched the pilot. The partners took a very practical approach, with clearly defined work streams to ensure all players in the supply chain—manufacturers, distributors, merchandisers and retailers—would achieve business benefits.

This more practical, business-like approach is healthy and will help foster adoption. Paul Freeman, director of the EPC/RFID program at Best Buy, talks about driving implementations rather than driving adoption, because successful implementations will lead to greater adoption. I heard from a lot of end users who had launched small implementations that might not seem terribly ambitious when compared with the early talk of transforming the supply chain. But these projects will likely grow and lead to widespread adoption in the years ahead.

We know that end users want real solutions today, so we supplemented the content in the educational tracks—which highlighted case studies by companies such as John Deere, Shaw Industries and Megatrux—with practical education on the exhibit hall floor. We also ran an EPCIS demo that was extremely well received and made the practical benefits of this standard clearer to many attendees.

Moreover, we had the University of Arkansas' RFID Research Center conduct practical demonstrations, including how to read tags as you stack cases on pallets and create advance shipping notices. And Alien Technology worked with partners and customers to demonstrate real-world, ready-to-deploy applications.

So where is RFID adoption today? How far up the Slope of Enlightenment have we climbed? It's difficult to say. Based on what I heard at EPC Connection, adoption is not going to soar next year. Still, I have no doubt that more projects will be launched and existing projects will be expanded. It will be a better year for most vendors, and a year of steady progress for end users looking for practical benefits from 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.

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