About the RFID Journal Awards

Here's how we judge the best new product each year.
Published: November 27, 2018

Awards are often a joke. You can pay research firms to give you an award for being the most innovative company or having the greatest product. As a journalist, I’ve always been skeptical of awards for this reason, so I had a lot of doubts when I launched the RFID Journal Awards more than 10 years ago. I wanted to ensure not just that they were fair and objective, but that they were perceived to be fair and objective.

From the beginning, I recruited academics who knew the RFID industry, but who had no financial interest in the RFID companies submitting for our awards. These judges have always been listed on our awards website. We have also been transparent about the process for judging the entries, the criteria used and so on.

I believe the awards have been a huge success. They have highlighted the best deployments each year, and you can see, by the reactions of the winners, that the awards are taken seriously. Still, I often receive questions from exhibitors that submit entries for the Best New Product award each year. Some have wondered if we favor companies that spend more money with RFID Journal. Given such questions, and the fact that we have now opened submissions for the 2019 awards, I thought I would use this week’s column to explain how we select each year’s Best New Product.

As with all submissions, exhibitors do not pay anything to enter. We select academics to judge the entries (I am usually a judge in this category as well). The entries are judged on the following criteria, which are posted on the awards website:

• Does the new product or service deliver business value to those for whom it is designed?
• Will it solve a business problem?
• Will it reduce costs, improve efficiencies or increase sales?
• Will it simplify RFID deployments or make it more cost-effective to deploy RFID systems?
• Will it enable companies to comply with regulations more cost-effectively?
• Is the product or service original, or does it simply do what existing products do?
• Does the product or service break new ground?
• Does it offer a significant improvement over existing products in the same category?
• Is the product or service likely to deliver a significant return on investment?
• Does the product or service solve a business problem common in a particular industry?

It’s worth noting that these criteria focus on business value more than on technological innovation. RFID Journal has always focused on the business benefits of RFID, so the awards reflect this approach. A product may be the most innovative new RFID product in the world, but if it doesn’t solve a business problem or create business value, it will not win our award. On the other hand, a product might be quite simple but create tremendous value. That would be a strong contender, even though it might not be technologically advanced.

The judges do their best to fairly evaluate products based on RFID Journal’s established criteria. They submit scores, then the winner is announced at our RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition. The judges have no idea how much each company spends with RFID Journal, and we have given awards to companies that spend a lot of money, as well as to those that don’t spend nearly as much.

Our goal is simple: to highlight products that our readers and event attendees can use to improve the way they do business. Period.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal.