Assisting End Users, Growing the RFID Market

By Mark Roberti

Helping one company to use the technology, no matter how small the application, will accelerate RFID's adoption.

Last week, I spent nearly two hours on the phone with a woman from a major international manufacturing company that is considering using radio frequency identification technology to track parts within a warehouse. She had a lot of questions: Which tags should I use? Who makes RFID readers? What kind of software do I need?

I did my best to answer all of her questions, and mentioned the woman in a conversation with a friend (not in the RFID industry) who is a business consultant. He said: "You know, you shouldn't give free help to people. You are extremely knowledgeable and highly regarded in the industry. You should limit people's access to you and charge them if they want your advice. You could make a lot of money that way."

I explained to my friend that it's just not my personality to remain aloof and promote myself as some kind of guru. And while I might make consulting money taking his approach, I firmly believe education is the key to growing RFID Journal and the RFID industry. RFID Journal has been educating the world for 15 years, through our online news, feature stories, RFID Journal magazine, virtual events and face-to-face events, such as our upcoming annual RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition, which will be held in Orlando, Fla., on May 3-5. End users attend our LIVE! events because they can learn from companies that have deployed RFID and candidly discuss the challenges and benefits.

But some folks take their first tentative steps into RFID by either calling me or posting questions to our Ask the Experts blog. Often, they don't know where to begin, or they can't spend a lot of time reading up on RFID, because their boss wants to know whether the technology can solve a problem, or they're busy running their own business. I believe it's worth my time to answer the few phone calls I receive each week, as well as the five to seven Ask the Experts questions I answer weekly.

Many companies that have deployed RFID technology have been readers of RFID Journal and/or have attended our events. I can often track a company's progress by looking at when its employees first became members of RFID Journal, when they became paying subscribers, when the firm attended an event, and when we wrote about its deployment. Click on the image below to watch a video of Zander Livingston talking about how American Apparel learned about RFID, for instance (see RFID Delivers Unexpected Benefits at American Apparel, American Apparel Adopting RFID at Every Store and American Apparel Deploys Real-Time, Storewide RFID Inventory-Management Solution).

Every RFID deployment, large or small, is a validation of the technology and gives other companies in the same industry, or with the same business issue, confidence that RFID can solve their problem. Small deployments often grow to become larger ones, because employees within a company see the technology's value and find myriad ways in which it can be applied to improve efficiencies.

When I help a reader, I figure I am actually assisting three or four companies. I am helping the reader's firm use RFID to solve its business problem, as well as the companies that provide tags, readers, software and integration services. That, in turn, helps RFID Journal, as more RFID providers are able to advertise on our website and exhibit at our events.

Right now, it's important to assist as many end users as possible in understanding the value of RFID. Besides, it's always rewarding to help someone solve a problem.

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
, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.