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German Study Finds Most RFID Deployments Deemed a Success

University of Freiburg researchers, interviewing several hundred RFID users, found more than 70 percent expect to amortize their investment within four years.
By Rhea Wessel
The study also determined that RFID is not a stand-alone application, and that one RFID application often spawns another. "This was very surprising to me," Strüker says. "You can see, from the numbers, that a few companies have lots of different applications. The early adopters look for the next application immediately, and they're very successful."

Asked about the advantages of RFID, 78 percent of the 147 respondents that answered this question said they benefited from improved information regarding business processes. At least 57 percent, meanwhile, reported benefiting from improved or new processes.

According to Strüker, the data shows that if implemented correctly, RFID can do much more for companies than just replace their manual processes. "In an analysis of the connection between the realized target improvements and the RFID performance effects," the report notes, "a significant dependency could be observed... RFID-based reduction of manual data acquisition does not systematically contribute to performance improvements... The results suggest that it is necessary to exploit the possibility of improved information about enterprise resources, or to re-engineer business processes on the basis of RFID."

Finally, the report showed that a major impediment to RFID adoption involves the technology's integration into existing processes and IT infrastructure. Some 68 percent of respondents whose companies actually employ RFID cited cross-company business process integration as the greatest barrier.

The research was sponsored by the University of Freiburg, the Industrial Research Foundation and German publishing company VDI Nachrichten, which initially published the report. A luxury hotel in Freiburg offered a prize for participating respondents—a free weekend stay and a meal in the hotel's high-end restaurant.

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