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Insights from RFID Journal LIVE! 2008
A growing number of end users of RFID technology are clearly ready to move forward with significant projects, and vendors are responding with new products that are easier to deploy.
Apr 21, 2008—I would not call RFID Journal LIVE! 2008, held last week in Las Vegas, a tipping point or even an inflection point. But I do think it's fair to say radio frequency identification has finally emerged from the pilot stage and is now on the way up the "slope of enlightenment" in Gartner's hype cycle.
This year's LIVE! event attracted 3,300 attendees, up from about 2,600 last year—that's a 25 percent growth in attendance. And these are real numbers, not the grossly inflated statistics put out by some events companies. I was anticipating 2,800 to 3,000 people, so the increased attendance surprised even me. We had to order extra conference bags and lanyards at the last minute, in fact—but it wasn't entirely unexpected.
It had been clear to me for the past year that many companies had completed pilots and were ready to roll out the technology. Others—including Airbus, Procter & Gamble and Sam's Club—had moved well beyond pilots and even rollouts, developing cohesive enterprise-wide RFID strategies.
Before LIVE!, I e-mailed several end users asking if they would help judge the new "Best in Show" award at the RFID Journal Awards, the winners of which we will announce this week. Some said that while they wanted to help out, they needed to focus on attending the sessions and visiting the booths.
While I wasn't completely surprised by the number of people at RFID Journal LIVE!, virtually all exhibitors and sponsors at the event were—and pleasantly so. They were astounded by the number of attendees, the many end users they met and how serious those end users were about adopting RFID technologies. That's what I kept hearing over and over—from the opening reception to the last day.
Throughout the event, vendor after vendor came up to me saying it was the best they'd ever had, and that they came away with many great leads. In fact, several said they'd already shaken hands on deals for hardware, software or services. This is a marked difference from previous years, where many attendees came simply to learn what RFID was, and engaged vendors primarily to start small pilots.
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