Balancing Your Interests

By Mark Roberti

RFID solution providers have short-term goals, but they should not be put ahead of long-term interests.

As a business owner, I am constantly trying to balance RFID Journal's short-term goal of making a profit with our long-term goal of growing the company's value. I could, for example, cut RFID Journal's editorial budget, which is our largest expense, to increase profitability. I have not done that—even in the aftermath of the financial crisis when we had to dramatically reduce expenses—because I feel it would hurt us in the long term. We educate end users about the value of RFID, and fewer educated companies means a slower pace of adoption and slower long-term growth.

RFID solution providers sometimes seem to put their short-term goals ahead of their long-term interests. Let me pause here to state the obvious: The revenue of solution providers will grow when the market for RFID solutions grows. So it's in the long-term interest of solution providers to do things that grow demand for RFID solutions.

Nevertheless, I see companies do things that discourage adoption. I'll give you an example. I attended an event focused on RFID in health care (not an RFID Journal event), at which two companies, each offering a different type of active RFID solution for health care, were invited to speak. The first speaker focused half of his presentation on bashing the other speaker's technology. Then, the second speaker spent half of his presentation bashing the first speaker's system.

The result? Not one end user in the room was interested in either system (thankfully, there weren't many end users in attendance). But the biggest loser was RFID, because attendees left feeling that the technology could not deliver benefits. This, in my view, is doubly self-defeating. Neither company is going to win any deals this way, and the RFID industry loses as a whole.

I would contend that if both Vendor A and Vendor B had praised RFID and said that both systems will work, and if Vendor A then got a deal, Vendor B would still be better off than having no end user in the room adopt RFID. Let me explain why.

If no deployment takes place, then no stories about a deployment are written. No one hears about the benefits of RFID, and adoption is not moved forward at all. If one person in the room uses Vendor A's solution, Vendor B still benefits because Vendor A will eventually put out a press release. Articles will be written. Other hospitals will hear about the success and start investigating RFID—and then Vendor B will have an opportunity to sell to those companies.

I believe that it's in the interests of the vendor community to sell RFID first and sell their own solutions second. And it's in the interest of all solution providers to educate end users and try to encourage adoption, even if a company is adopting a form of RFID they don't sell. The use of one type of RFID raises awareness of all types of RFID.

In my next column, I'll explain why it's in the interests of most end users to promote RFID's adoption.

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.