Apr 22, 2013When we at RFID Journal re-launched RFID Connect, our event-planning and online community site, in February 2012, our goal was to help end users and systems integrators find the products and solutions they needed. The site was designed to enable vendors to upload information regarding their products, including images, spec sheets and more. If you've read my blogs and editorials during the past year, then you know I've been frustrated because few RFID solution providers initially took advantage of this opportunity.
Some providers were skeptical of RFID Connect's value. One vendor asked me why his company would want to list its products on a Web site alongside those of its competitors. I said the company should do it for the same reason retailers congregate at shopping malls and fast-food companies gather in food courts—because having choices attracts buyers.
I'm happy to say that attitude is beginning to change. To encourage more vendors to update their profiles and upload products, we began linking exhibitors on the Web site for our RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition—to be held in Orlando, Fla., from Apr. 30 to May 2— to their RFID Connect profile. In addition, we gave all event exhibitors a "gold" listing on the site, providing them with the ability to post additional product information. That helped create a critical mass of vendors and products at rfidconnect.com.
As a result, I am now seeing end users and systems integrators from around the world utilizing RFID Connect to learn more about available products and services. I was recently copied on an e-mail from a systems integrator in the Czech Republic that sought to learn about active RFID sensors from a firm in Hong Kong. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is—it means that a company in Europe can deploy a solution that will benefit its business. And it generates business for the Hong Kong firm, allowing it to invest in developing new or better products. That, in turn, will enable a greater number of end users to find solutions.
What's more, end users and systems integrators are taking advantage of the RFID Connect smartphone application that we introduced in January 2013 (see RFID Journal Releases RFID Connect Smartphone App), which synchs with the Web site. The app is designed to enable LIVE! attendees to get the most value from the conference. They can use the app to research sessions they wish to attend and exhibitors they would like to meet, and create a daily planner that they can then bring to the conference on their Apple iPhone or Android mobile phone.
Our reports show that more than 80 percent of preregistered attendees have logged on to RFID Connect during the past month, and many are adding exhibitors to their to-do lists. This is encouraging, as it shows that end users are interested in figuring out which companies offer what products, and are meeting those exhibitors that have solutions to their business problems. Our smartphone app allows attendees to highlight booths on their to-do list, so when they walk through the exhibit hall, they won't miss the booths they want to visit.
Recently, I've noticed that skeptical vendor, as well as other solution providers, uploading products to RFID Connect. This is a gratifying, as enquiries from end users and systems integrators will encourage companies to put more effort into adding their products and keeping their information up to date.
Of course, RFID Connect alone cannot transform the RFID industry. Face-to-face events, such as RFID Journal LIVE!, are where a lot of deals are made. Web sites and magazines that educate end users about the technology are important. And the education that solution providers offer through their advertising and Web sites is also vital. But RFID Connect is clearly helping 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.