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Evangelizing RFID

It's not about the technology—it's about what the technology can do.
By Mark Roberti
May 05, 2008At RFID Journal LIVE! 2008, we showed a three-screen video montage that began with images of numerous business problems, such as out-of-stock shelves and large piles of airline baggage. The video strongly suggested radio frequency identification could solve many of these problems—all of them, actually.

I told the audience I was of two minds about the video—it was a great introduction to the event, I said, but I felt a little uncomfortable with the evangelistic tone. "You might find this strange," I explained. "But I don't see myself as an evangelist for RFID. RFID is a tool, so to me being an evangelist for RFID is like being an evangelist for a hammer."

Ray Martino, chief technology officer for Motorola's Enterprise Mobility division, spoke immediately thereafter and said, "I took exception when Mark said he is not an RFID evangelist. I'm very happy to say that I am [an evangelist for RFID.] The hammer probably needed an evangelist. Think about when the hammer came out—there probably weren't any nails. And there were probably stories that nails cost a buck, but if you could produce them in high volume, the price would fall to seven cents. And there was probably someone who had a soapbox and got on it and said, 'Don't make hammers because people will use them to hit other people on the head.' New technologies need evangelists."

Ray's analogy to privacy advocates opposing RFID got a big laugh. And you know, he's right—new technologies do need evangelists. When the polio vaccine was invented, people had to go around convincing doctors it worked, and that people should use it. And, sure enough, there were those who claimed injecting a virus into people was a nutty way to cure them.

So while I still don't see myself as an evangelist for RFID—I don't advocate that companies employ the technology simply for the sake of using it—I do see myself as a responsible journalist, and a publisher who promotes RFID where and when it can solve business problems. That distinction, to me, is very important.


Damon McDaniel 2008-05-12 07:52:58 AM
Evangelizing RFID Hi Mark, Concerning evangelizing RFID - I would agree to the concern over the connection to the Katherine Albright's of the world with the word 'evangelize', however, I consider you the anti-thesis for overhype and overselling the technology. Whereas many could get caught up by the hype & promotion, RFIDJournal (you & your fine staff) brings balance to the sales pitches in the market. You provide us - the consumers - with balanced information to readily say 'yes - it works in this scenario' or 'No - you shouldn't employ RFID to find matched pairs of socks at home'. You balance the hype with clear information to provide a launching pad for our own investigations. You encourage us to work out our own dynamics in all of our own circumstances. And, for that I thank you for your excellent service. Best Regards, Damon
Hamzeh Nofal 2008-05-14 12:32:06 AM
Evangelist, so what? Hi Mark, I do agree that its not about RFID, its about what RFID can do. I've been an RFID evangelist myself, I was proud of it and I remain. However, when I started talking to customers about RFID, I felt that I'm more biased towards the technology rather than to its value, and the customers could feel it too! But being so, made them get some of my energy and think about the value. What I am saying here is that you should always keep in mind how RFID can help the business and promote it with the passion and belief of Jesus!! I hope we don’t get Crucified before people believe  The thing is: promoting the business value of RFID does not conflict with being an evangelist for RFID. I think they are both connected.

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