An estimated one out of every 20 paper documents is lost in the workplace, according to research firm IDC, and office workers lose hundreds of hours each year searching for documents that have been misplaced. RFID solutions to address these problems were first introduced in 2000 by 3M, followed by similar offerings from FileTrail and other providers.
These solutions let companies and organizations automatically monitor file rooms and the movement of files within offices, so they can determine who checked out a file and when, as well as the file's current location. The government agencies, law-enforcement departments, law offices, research libraries and universities that have adopted RFID file-tracking solutions report significant time-savings and reduced costs associated with searching for misplaced files.
Yet, in spite of technology advances that make RFID file-tracking solutions more effective, easier to deploy and less costly, adoption is stagnating. 3M no longer accepts new file-tracking business, though it continues to support its current customers. "We're always evaluating different markets and businesses to make sure we can focus on the best opportunities," says Skip Driessen, 3M's global business manager. "We didn't see it as a market that fits our future plans." Instead, the company is focusing on its RFID solutions for libraries.
The problem is one of marketing, not value, says Michael Liard, VP of the AutoID practice at VDC Research. "I don't know if it's an issue of getting the message across," he says. "Is it a lack of understanding of the technology or the cost savings? If you get it all down on paper, it just makes sense."
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