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Leadership Is Necessary to Get RFID Right

To truly achieve transformational change, leaders in different industries will need to step up and help guide the adoption of radio frequency identification.
By Mark Roberti
Jul 05, 2011Last week, I wrote about the need for competitors to collaborate in order to drive the adoption of radio frequency identification technologies in specific industries (see Collaboration Can Accelerate RFID Adoption). Taking that idea a step further, it seems to me that leadership is required within each industry to drive adoption in a standardized way. And by that, I mean real leadership.

Being a leader means seeing the big picture. In this case, it means understanding that an individual company will benefit more if an entire industry adopts RFID. (Think about how useful the Internet would be if only one firm within each industry had adopted it.)

Leadership also means doing things that might go against the grain. Think about U.S. President Richard Nixon establishing a relationship with China. Nixon was strongly anti-communist, but he befriended that nation because he saw the strategic benefits of doing so, even if he didn't like the idea of getting closer to a communist regime.

Similarly, senior executives need to understand that they have to put aside their intense competition with others in their industry for the sake of promoting RFID adoption. That isn't always easy. Many industry players are reluctant to promote adoption, because they don't want to let their competitors know the extent to which they are benefiting from the technology. But the alternative is for companies to each invest in RFID in different ways, thereby creating inefficiencies and additional costs.

Apparel retail executives from Dillard's, JCPenney, Wal-Mart Stores and other major companies saw the big picture when they joined the Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions Association's Item-Level RFID Initiative to promote the adoption of Electronic Product Code (EPC) standards, and to agree on how they should be implemented (see Major Retailers, Industry Groups Launch Item-Level RFID Guidelines Initiative).

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