How I Fared on 2015’s Predictions

By Mark Roberti

The RFID industry made progress, but not as I had expected.

In my first column of a new year, I usually spell out what I expect will happen in the radio frequency identification industry during the coming year. I'd like to start this year by taking a look back at my last predictions (see 10 Predictions for 2015). Next week, I'll share my thoughts on 2016.

Prediction 1: Apparel retailers will continue to adopt RFID.
This was hardly a bold forecast. Most retailers understand the technology's value, so it was inevitable that we would see greater adoption in the industry. Kohl's and other retailers announced large-scale deployments (see Kohl's Rolls Out RFID for Select Product Categories at Its Stores).

Prediction 2: A major nonapparel retail chain will roll out RFID chain-wide.
This proved to be true. Decathlon, an international sporting goods retailer, has rolled out the technology (see Decathlon Sees Sales Rise and Shrinkage Drop, Aided by RFID). But I am disappointed that we didn't see others outside of apparel retail announcing deployments (many pilots are currently underway).

Prediction 3: Interest in RFID will expand across all industries, driven by news of big retail deployments.
I can't say we saw more deployments outside of the retail sector than in previous years, but I do believe there has been a growing awareness of RFID and an interest is growing outside of retail. I see it in our Web traffic and newsletter signups.

Prediction 4: Continued expansion of the Airbus RFID initiative will drive adoption in the airline industry.
Again, I can't point to specific deployments or hard numbers regarding adoption, but I definitely see an increase in subscribers from the airline and aerospace sectors. I also saw greater interest at the International Air Transport Association's RFID & Paperless Aircraft Technical Operations Conference event (see IATA Event Suggests Airlines Are Embracing RFID).

Prediction 5: Consolidation in the RFID industry will continue.
This was definitely the case, with Zebra Technologies buying Motorola Solutions' enterprise division, SML acquiring Xterprise, and some smaller companies closing up shop (see Consolidation in the RFID Industry Continues).

Prediction 6: Microsoft, Oracle and SAP will continue to sit on the sidelines.
Sadly, I was right about this one. The large companies don't yet get how big RFID is going to be.

Prediction 7: Accenture, Capgemini, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and IBM Business Services will continue to ignore RFID.
It's interesting that IBM has been brought into a number of RFID projects by customers that use the firm for their IT infrastructure. The same is true of the other firms, but to a lesser degree. Perhaps when the trickle of interest picks up, so, too, will the interest of these firms in promoting their RFID expertise.

Prediction 8: Venture capitalists will come back into the market.
I would say I was largely wrong about this. I am seeing more interest by the VC community, but investments are few and far between. That will change as the market picks up.

Prediction 9: The Internet of Things will continue to generate a lot of buzz.
I was definitely wrong about this. I thought IoT hype would reach a crescendo in 2015, but instead, the hype turned mostly negative, with a lot of news articles focusing on security problems. Internet of Things technologies went into the chasm even faster than RFID did.

Prediction 10: Political uncertainty in the United States will slow economic growth and lead to delays of some RFID projects.
The economy did OK, though not great, in 2015. It's difficult to say how many projects were delayed due to political uncertainty. The business community seems to have gotten used to the dysfunction in Washington, D.C., so maybe the impact of the political battles was smaller than I anticipated.

Overall, I would say I got more right than wrong. Perhaps next week's predictions will be even more accurate.

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.