It Pays to Be Educated About RFID

Some companies want to just deploy a radio frequency identification system without putting much thought into it, and that's a mistake.
Published: February 3, 2019

I had two interesting conversations last week. One was with a gentleman from an oil services company who wanted to know if there were any solution providers that offered a system for tracking oil pipes and field equipment. I gave him the names of a few companies that I thought could help him, and explained that they will be exhibiting at RFID Journal LIVE! 2019, which will be held on Apr. 2-4 at Arizona’s Phoenix Convention Center. I told him this would give him a good chance to meet face to face with a few different companies, evaluate them and start the selection process. Hover, he said he just wanted to find a local firm that could do the project.

I warned this gentleman that such an approach would be a mistake. There are plenty of companies that claim they can carry out an RFID project. For example, there are bar-code systems integrators that are looking for extra business and would love to learn about RFID at a customer’s expense. There are also startups that have written some software code and claim they offer a full RFID solution. Failing to spend the time to learn a little about the technology, meet a variety of companies, ask about past projects and get references is a recipe for disaster.

Meanwhile, I spoke with another gentleman from a manufacturing firm who plans to attend LIVE! 2019. He wanted to know if it made sense to sign up for a Training Pass or a Conference Pass. “Is the training just for systems integrators, or do end users take it as well?” he asked.

That was a great question. The vast majority of people who take the RFID Professional Institute‘s certification training, which is delivered by our partner RFID4U, are end users of the technology. Some are IT people who want to learn about the data that comes from RFID readers and how databases can be set up to associate tags and items. Others are business people who want to gain enough understanding of the technology to be able to engage with solution providers and make sure their project stays on track.

I think getting educated makes a lot of sense. RFID is great technology, but it involves installing infrastructure, changing business practices and setting up IT systems. Doing it right isn’t easy. Look, half of all IT software projects fail, so that’s not a surprise. If business managers understand how the technology works and what options are available, they can make smart decisions about a deployment.

I don’t think that every company needs a bunch of people who are RFID experts on staff, but I do believe that employing RFID project leaders who have a strong understanding of the technology’s fundamentals will go a long way toward ensuring that an RFID project delivers a healthy return on investment.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal.