Don’t Be a Pound Foolish

By Mark Roberti

Some companies want to implement an RFID system without doing their homework. Trying to save a few dollars this way can be costly in the long run.


I received an email last week from a very frustrated gentleman at a large, well-know and admired American company. He said that his firm had approved funding for an RFID project, but that it had denied his request to travel to our RFID Journal LIVE! 2017 conference and exhibition. He wanted to know if I had any advice to convince his company to make an exception to its no-travel rule.

I did, of course. I understand the need to keep costs low. We live in a very competitive world. All businesses are competing globally today, and consumers are willing to shop around to get the best item at the lowest cost. Frankly, many events are boondoggles that aren’t worth attending. Not much effort or thought is put into the conference program at such events, and the offerings from the exhibitors are not always that different from year to year.

But RFID is still a relatively new technology without a lot of proven best practices, and the technology is evolving very rapidly. We put a lot of effort into developing a great program for LIVE! with a lot of great end-user companies and organizations, including Delta Air Lines, Honda, KLM Maintenance & Engineering, Li & Fung, Michigan Medicine, the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Oxford Porcelanas, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy and so on.

These speakers share what they used RFID for, the issues they faced, how they overcame them and the benefits they achieved. There is no doubt in my mind that anyone planning an RFID deployment will learn enough at these sessions to save additional money from their projects or avoid costly mistakes, which will pay for their travel many times over. Attendees tell us they got value for their money and came away with new ideas for using RFID in ways they hadn’t thought of, which will save their company money.

There’s also a benefit to being in an exhibit hall with 200 of the top RFID solution providers. Often, companies find products they didn’t know existed—products that can address a business issue they’ve been grappling with. There’s also an opportunity to obtain pricing from multiple companies from around the world, and to meet and evaluate people face to face. This could save money and avoid supplier problems down the road.

Some of the most advanced users of RFID, such as Airbus, send people to LIVE! every year. They know it’s an expense, but they realize that what they learn during the sessions could benefit their RFID programs, and what they see in the exhibit hall could reduce deployment costs or allow them to expand RFID into new areas. I believe these arguments represent value—and they apparently did help the person who emailed me, as I saw him on the registration list.

I hope these arguments can you help convince your company as well, and I look forward to greeting you in Phoenix on May 9 for LIVE! 2017.

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.