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It's Time for CEOs to Take the Lead

We've had a decade of learning how to deploy RFID. Now, corporate leaders must develop an enterprise strategy for implementing the technology, to ensure their companies will be competitive—and successful—in the future.
By Mark Roberti
Dec 17, 2012—During the past 10 years, we've seen thousands of companies and organizations worldwide adopt radio frequency identification to solve myriad problems. They've deployed RFID in factories, hospitals and stores, on oil rigs and cruise ships, and at construction sites and ski resorts. They've tracked large pallets and small items, vehicles and apparel, workers and raw materials. And they've used many different types of RFID technology, including active and passive

Yet despite the diversity of industries and solutions, most of these companies have shared several experiences. They've deployed RFID on a project basis, learning about the technology, identifying a business problem that RFID could solve, piloting a system and evaluating the benefits. That was—and still is—the right approach for first-time users of RFID technology.

Photo: iStockphoto

But many of the end users leading these pilots also have shared the frustration of struggling to get their RFID projects approved. Some were told the company couldn't afford to fund the project or the technology was too risky. Others were thwarted by concerns from coworkers who didn't want to disturb the status quo or risk their jobs if the project didn't work out. In fact, many projects never got green-lighted.

And there was little, if any, support from the top. In most cases, the CEOs did not have much knowledge of or interest in RFID. And if they were aware of the technology, they considered it a nuisance—an additional expense, something they wished would go away.

Now, suddenly, RFID is on the radar of many CEOs, as major aerospace and automobile companies, energy and IT firms, health-care organizations, hotels, manufacturers,
retailers and others deploy the technology on a large scale. Among those adopting an enterprise strategy for RFID are: Airbus, Boeing, BP, Cisco Systems, Daimler, Gerry Weber International, J.C. Penney, John Deere, Macy's, Rewe Group, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and the Veterans Health Administration.

CEOs need to get up to speed quickly on the challenges and benefits of RFID, so they can
establish a corporate strategy for deploying the technology wisely. Those who do will position their companies to compete aggressively for years to come. CEOs who do not pick up the RFID reins will see their companies continue to struggle with inefficiencies, rising costs and decreasing market share. Here, then, are 10 facts CEOs must know about RFID, to ensure the technology delivers major benefits across the enterprise.
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