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The Business-IT Connection

The success of any RFID project in any industry requires close collaboration between the operations and technology teams.
By Samuel Greengard
Mar 02, 2015

"Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage. This I tell you brother, you can't have one without the other."

Anyone planning a radio frequency identification project should keep these song lyrics, popularized by Frank Sinatra, top of mind. That's because the success of any company's RFID project—big or small, regardless of industry or application—depends on input from people in both the business and IT departments.

Illustration: iStockphoto
Each side brings key issues and knowledge to the table. The business team knows what problems need to be solved and where inefficiencies occur in the company's processes. It has identified opportunities for using RFID to achieve productivity gains, bottom-line financial benefits and a competitive advantage. The IT team understands the technical issues that must be addressed to meet the business objective.

"Deploying the technology throughout an organization is an ongoing challenge," says Vinny Pagliuca, director of creative costuming at Walt Disney Co., which is using RFID to track and manage costumes at its resorts and on its cruise chips. "There is a need for the IT and business sides of the organization to collaborate effectively."

But effective collaboration is not always easy to achieve. Each team may approach an RFID project without a clear understanding of what the other group requires, egos can emerge, and entrenched silos and turf battles can impede the free flow of information. For optimal results, everyone must begin with a willingness to cooperate and learn what the other team can contribute.

"Organizations that support a more open and connected business and IT environment unlock greater value and better results," says Josh Girvin, senior VP of product management at Atlas RFID Solutions, who has worked with Bechtel and other construction companies on major RFID deployments. "You really want to build a framework that drives adoption of the technology, provides the necessary input and spans three crucial factors: people, processes and technology."

"RFID reaches across silos in an organization," says Sue Flake, director of RFID business development at Zebra Technologies. An established best practice when planning an RFID project is to form a crossfunctional team, with representatives from all areas of the company that will be affected by the deployment. This, of course, includes the business and IT departments.

It's critical to build an enterprise framework for RFID and bring together key business and IT managers, Flake says. Business and IT staff members must feel as though they are on equal footing, she says, though the business side will ultimately drive the project forward. "Their goals must begin to mirror each other," she adds.

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