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Building Credibility for RFID

Solution providers need to help end users develop trust in the technology.
By Mark Roberti
Oct 24, 2011Many sellers of radio frequency identification technology have told me they would like to meet the CEOs of major companies. They believe that if they could just reach the top executives and explain the magnificent benefits that their solutions offer, those CEOs would see that value and write checks for whatever amount the systems might cost. But the reality is that a CEO is the last person to whom vendors should be talking. Why? Because they have no credibility with CEOs.

I know this, because I talk to a lot of RFID project leaders at end-user companies. Many CEOs are very skeptical of RFID, and of RFID projects, and demand to see hard evidence that the technology can deliver real value—and with good reason. Sometimes, even when presented with such proof, they still refuse to believe it.

This is one reason that RFID adoption is taking longer than many predicted, though it's a phenomenon not unique to radio frequency identification; rather, it's true of any new technology. Potential buyers are rightly skeptical, since they have heard so many claims that never pan out. So RFID companies and project leaders need to build credibility with senior executives.

During the Strategic RFID Workshop that I presented at last week's RFID Journal LIVE! Europe 2011 conference and exhibition, I advocated that companies take an enterprise-wide approach to RFID—that is, that they build a companywide infrastructure able to support their firm's strategic objective. But I noted that this approach should be implemented incrementally, rather than all at once.

If someone approaches a CEO and says, "Here's my grand vision for an enterprise-wide RFID system that will enable us to reduce costs and boost efficiencies while enhancing our core strategic objectives—all I need is $5 million," that person will not likely get very far. Instead, companies need to have a vision of how RFID would be used enterprise-wide, but start with small projects that can deliver real value.

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