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End Users—Not Vendors—Can Best Sell RFID
Companies that have deployed the technology are convincing other firms of its many benefits.
The company most likely to deploy an RFID system is one that had a person sitting in the audience of an RFID event, listening to another business like his or hers discussing how it is benefiting from radio frequency identification. At the end of the Medellin conference, for example, a gentleman came up to me and said, "I own a few stores in Colombia with my brother. I think we should start a pilot. How do we get started?" Another gentleman e-mailed me after the conference, saying his firm manufactures mattresses, and that he would like to employ RFID to track work-in-process. He, too, wanted to know how to get started.
The reality is that salespeople can't sell RFID, or any other new technology. In fact, a lot of technology providers waste money on sales strategies—such as Google or industry trade shows—that deliver little or no success, because they focus on selling to the unconvinced. Moore explains it best: The most important thing for a company selling a new technology is a customer reference—someone who can validate that the technology does, indeed, solve business problems or deliver business benefits. That's why many vendors at this year's LIVE! event reported that they received verbal—and signed—commitments for tags, readers and software (see Something Happened Last Week in Orlando).
The RFID industry needs companies that have deployed the technology to share their success stories. Many firms would like to see their entire industry adopt RFID, because they know there are huge benefits that can best be achieved when all products are tagged at the source and tracked through to consumption. Additionally, as a greater number of companies adopt RFID, that will lower product costs.
But there's a Catch-22 here. While these companies—often industry leaders—want their competitors and suppliers to adopt RFID, they also want to keep their own successes quiet, perceiving that to be a competitive advantage. Instead, they hope the rest of the industry will somehow embrace RFID. But as I've said before, competitive advantage comes from constantly improving products, marketing and execution (see Understanding the Competitive Advantage).
When I host or participate in events at which end users stand up and tell a great RFID success story, it is a huge thrill for me. It's the reward for all of the hard work I put in, because I get to hear how the speaker's company became convinced that RFID could deliver, and I know there will be a few more converts in the audience—and they will eventually speak up and create more converts. And that is how we will eventually get to critical mass.
Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.
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