Betting Your Career on RFID

By Mark Roberti

As radio frequency identification matures and gains traction, being an advocate for the technology becomes less of a gamble.


In 2002, soon after I launched RFID Journal, a gentleman (I have long forgotten which firm he worked for) wrote to me and asked, “Would you bet your career on radio frequency identification?” I wrote back to say that I had already done so.

When I founded this company, it was a career-defining move. Few people will remember that I was the guy who said RFID would be bigger than the Internet. If the technology had fizzled, as many predicted it would, and RFID Journal had gone out of business, I’m sure I could have gotten another journalism job somewhere. But for me, it was RFID or bust. If the technology didn’t take off, I was not going back into journalism. I was sick of how most media companies were (and still are) run—pandering to advertisers for money and to readers in a desperate plea for eyeballs. If RFID Journal had gone out of business, I would probably be driving a New York City cab or hauling furniture up 10 flights of stairs for my cousin’s moving company.

I was thinking about that e-mail and my decision recently because of Carlo Nizam’s promotion to the head of Airbus‘ digitalization efforts (see Carlo Nizam to Lead ICT Digital Transformation at Airbus Group). Nizam bet his career on RFID. In fact, he turned down a very attractive position within Airbus a few years ago to continue on the Value Chain Visibility and RFID program because he believed in it so much.

That decision has paid off for Nizam, as he is widely recognized as a thought leader in the RFID industry. He was promoted several times within Airbus, and now will help to lead the company’s digital transformation.

In the past, it was risky to promote RFID within your company. If a project didn’t go well—perhaps because the systems integrator brought in didn’t do a good job, or because the technology was inappropriately applied—then you were at risk of being made redundant.

These days, the technology is more mature, and the business cases for radio frequency identification are clearer in many industries. There is still a risk of choosing an inexperienced systems integrator or mismanaging a project, but the failure rate of RFID projects has dropped dramatically. Betting your career on RFID is no longer the gamble it once was, so don’t be afraid to advocate for the technology within your company. Who knows… in a few years, you could be the head of your company’s digital transformation efforts.

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.