No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

An end-user award is good for RFID vendors.
Published: February 9, 2007

Over the past few weeks, four people from companies that sell radio frequency identification hardware, software or services have given me an earful about the fact that our inaugural RFID Journal Awards only recognize end users deploying the technology, not vendors. Their feeling was that vendors create the technology that makes the application possible, and in some cases it’s actually the vendor or systems integrator that designs the solution.

I put this in the category of “no good deed goes unpunished.”

RFID Journal’s raison d’etre is to educate companies about how they can use RFID and related technologies to drive business value. By showcasing the way some companies are doing that, we can help other companies see how they, too, can benefit. This is why we put a premium on stories that deal with successful implementations by end-user companies.

At the same time, we are acutely aware of the challenges vendors face at this early stage of the market’s development. I wish I had a dime for every time a vendor said to me, “We have customers doing some great things with our technology, but we can’t get them to talk about it.”

Thus, we created the award to encourage end users to come forward and talk about their success stories. We believe this benefits vendors—the ones involved in the winning entries will be highlighted, and this generates interest in the products and services vendors provide.

In the future, we may consider giving awards for hardware, software and service providers, but that requires a different level of judging. How can we credibly say this is the best RFID interrogator on the market? Or state that is the best RFID-enabled enterprise application, or the best middleware? Until we feel we can answer those questions to our own and our readers’ satisfaction, we’ll hold off on awards for individual products and services.

Just as an aside, awards are often used to generate money from entries. In journalism, you pay several hundred dollars to submit a story for an award. Technology magazines often charge vendors to enter their PCs and peripherals into award contests. We have not charged anyone to enter our awards contest (or, for that matter, our Buyer’s Guide to RFID Resources). Our goal is to serve the needs of both end users and providers of RFID technologies.