It’s Time to Think Strategically

By Mark Roberti

Companies are deploying radio frequency identification to solve business problems, but they also need to think about what their RFID system will be in five years.

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A growing number of businesses are beginning to understand how an RFID system can improve efficiencies and reduce costs, which is especially critical during these challenging economic times. Most are deploying the technology to solve a particular business problem.

At some point in the future—I don’t know how many years from now—companies will track everything they are not presently monitoring, either using RFID or another wireless technology, including vehicles, work-in-process, finished goods inventory, parts, personnel, raw materials, tools and returnable transport items. The question, then, is how to get from where we are today to where we are going.

That’s an important question; for some firms, it will be a multi-million-dollar question. Why? Because some companies deploy RFID systems now with an eye toward the future, while others implement the technology without having a vision. And inevitably, the latter end up having to rip out systems, replace them and undertake costly integration work to try to force disparate systems to work as one.

To that end, we will introduce a Strategic RFID Workshop at our upcoming RFID Journal LIVE! Europe 2011 conference and exhibition—to be held on Oct. 18-19, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands—to help companies deploy RFID with a vision that can deliver enterprise-wide benefits. I will be the presenter for this workshop, and will leverage all of the information I’ve learned over the past decade of covering RFID technologies. I’ll lay out a strategy that has worked for leading businesses, and provide advice to help companies avoid the mistakes many early adopters have made.

My view, based on what leading early adopters have learned, is that companies must deploy RFID to achieve short-term benefits, but that they need to have a long-term vision regarding how they will use the technology to keep tabs on everything they need to track. It’s like building a bridge where there currently isn’t much traffic, knowing that future development in the area will increase traffic levels over time. If you build a strong foundation and have a plan for adding lanes as traffic soars, that is cheaper than constructing a bridge, then tearing it down and erecting a larger bridge, and then tearing that one down to create an even bigger one down the line.

During the Strategic RFID Workshop, I will walk companies through how they should choose a technology to meet their needs, now and in the future, and help them devise a phased approach that can deliver benefits in the near- and long-terms. I know this information is valuable, because I have been sharing it at executive briefings for firms interested in understanding how they can benefit from RFID (see Private Executive RFID Briefings). At one such meeting, an end user who had been working on an RFID project for four years told me, “I wish I had seen your presentation four years ago.”

We also plan to introduce this preconference seminar at RFID Journal LIVE! 2012, because we believe that strategic planning is essential. For attendees at our Europe event who are launching a rollout, or who plan to start one any time soon, I’m confident that they will derive a great deal of value from this workshop—they’ll learn how to avoid mistakes and, in the end, earn a much greater return on investment from their RFID solution.

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.