Apr 25, 2016During the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak with dozens of representatives from companies in a variety of industries as part of the Concierge Service, for RFID Journal LIVE! 2016. To help attendees who are relatively new to RFID get the most from the event, we discuss their particular application or business problem. I then recommend exhibitors to visit and sessions to attend. I sometimes make introductions to speakers and other attendees, if I think that would be helpful.
There is little commonality among the RFID requirements of the end users with whom I have spoken. Some are in retail, others in manufacturing, health care and logistics. Some face problems managing inventory, while others are looking to tag assets for customers, or to monitor tools and equipment.
But there is one issue that all end users with whom I have spoken have in common: They have no idea which vendors offer which products and services. Most, as I said, are new to RFID, which is why we offer the Concierge Service. But even those who have been working on RFID deployments for four years or more do not know many of the solution providers (see Brand Problems for RFID Vendors).
This highlights a chicken-and-egg problem for the RFID industry. Many companies with good solutions cannot market them because they are not generating sufficient revenue. Meanwhile, many end users who would buy their products don't give them revenue because those products are not marketed and they are thus unaware of them.
We've tried to address this issue in many ways. One is by offering low-cost advertising options that are highly targeted, so RFID companies can market only to those who are reading about their solution or searching our site for a system similar to one they offer.
For LIVE! 2016, we offered the Concierge Service. We also created a product showcase, containing images of some of the products each vendor offers, so attendees can walk around and see a reader, sensor or active RFID system, for example, then jot down the booth number and visit that exhibitor.
In addition, we offer an online planning tool, RFID Connect, and a mobile app allowing attendees to search for exhibitors by the category of products they provide (tags, readers, sensors or antennas, for instance) or by the industry for which they offer solutions (such as health care, logistics or retail). Attendees can reach out to exhibitors to arrange meetings once they find the solution providers offering the products and solutions they need.
We encourage exhibitors to reach out to attendees via the RFID Connect online tool (which works like LinkedIn) and through the mobile app. The irony is that more attendees have sent meeting requests throughout the past few years than exhibitors have. That suggests to me that businesses are more eager to find RFID solutions than RFID companies are to sell them. It's hard to understand.
I believe these problems will sort themselves out as the market begins to grow more rapidly. Solution providers will begin to generate greater revenue and will begin to advertise, while end-user companies will have more awareness about which firms offer which solutions. I strongly believe there will be a serendipity effect—those reading RFID Journal will see ads and realize that a solution is available to a different problem than the one they are researching.
In the meantime, RFID Journal will continue to do its best to connect buyers and sellers.
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.