Sep 30, 2013During a recent blog, I wrote about a gentleman who claimed to have some interesting radio frequency identification technology, but had no clue about how to sell it (see Technology for Sale). I noted, at the time, that marketing is just as important as technology development—a point exemplified by last week's announcement that RFID Global Solution and CodeSource had won a $3.3 million contract from the U.S. Social Security Administration (see Social Security Administration Awards $3.3M RFID Contract).
RFID Global Solution and a handful of other solution providers have focused on a few core industries and RFID applications. Instead of trying to be all things to all potential customers, these technology providers have developed solutions for specific industries facing particular issues, or have focused on a horizontal RFID application that is very specific in nature. This allows them to tailor their offerings to meet the needs of the target market.
RFID Global Solution, for example, is focused on aerospace, health care and industrial manufacturing, and on a single horizontal application: IT asset tracking. The company's marketing is focused on these sectors, and is backed up by versions of its Visi-Trac software tailored for these industries and for IT asset tracking. This is the disciplined kind of approach I've been advocating for most small and midsize RFID companies for years.
OATSystems, now part of Checkpoint Systems, has also been disciplined in its approach. OAT focuses on industrial manufacturers, particularly in the aerospace sector (Checkpoint focuses heavily on retail, for which it already has a strong customer base). Leveraging its learnings from Airbus and other early adopters, OATSystems has tailored its solution and won contracts with Bell Helicopter, Rockwell Collins and other companies (see Bell Helicopter's On-Time Delivery Rate Climbs Higher and Rockwell Collins Explores Ways to Benefit From RFID).
Ekahau is another good example. The company sells a real-time location system that leverages existing Wi-Fi networks. Many sectors could use this technology, but Ekahau focuses primarily on health care (as does AeroScout, one of its chief competitors). Success with one hospital enables the firm to convince other medical facilities that they, too, can benefit from asset tracking.
This focus is important, as it allows a solution provider to become the go-to company for a particular industry, or for a specific type of solution. End users searching for an IT asset-tracking system are beginning to contact RFID Global Solution first, because it has a number of successful deployments under its belt, and other companies believe that reduces their risk. Without focus, a solution provider never carries out enough deployments in one industry or application to become a go-to company.
RFID Global Solution's focus on IT asset tracking began around 2008, when it won a deal to deploy a data-center asset-tracking solution for Bank of America (see Bank of America Deploys RFID in Data Centers). The company took what it learned from that deployment and enhanced its software. The following year, the company sponsored a virtual event that RFID Journal hosted regarding the use of RFID technology in the financial sector (see RFID in Financial Services). Bank of America was invited to speak, and several folks from a major technology firm in Silicon Valley listened in on that virtual event. RFID Global Solution eventually ended up signing that company as a customer.
This week, RFID Global Solution is sponsoring our RFID in High Tech conference and exhibition, which is being held in the San Francisco Bay area, home to many businesses operating large data centers. Diana Hage, RFID Global Solution's CEO, will discuss the deployments that her company has performed, as well as the benefits that its customers have achieved. She has great customer references now, and I would not be surprised if the event led to another major customer win.
I realize it sounds very self-serving to say a solution provider sponsored an RFID Journal event and is now doing well. But the point is that RFID Global Solution not only focused its offerings, it is also marketing its solutions to those who attend RFID events, since they are actively researching those applications. When RFID providers selling targeted solutions are able to connect with companies purchasing targeted solutions, the result is often a contract for the RFID provider—and a solution to the customer's business problem.
This might not sound like rocket science, but there are not a lot of RFID companies currently taking this approach. Instead, many develop a generic asset-tracking solution and then attempt to sell it to anyone within any industry for any application. Too often, potential customers look at the challenges involved in tailoring a generic solution to their company's needs and deem the costs and risks too high, and the projects are then shelved. That's bad for solution providers, potential customers and the RFID industry as a whole. Focusing on specific markets leads to a greater number of customers in the same sector, which reduces risks for anyone looking to deploy that solution. And reducing risks increases RFID 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.