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End Users Speak Out

What will it take to make RFID a mainstream technology? We asked the people who are using it—or are considering doing so—in their distribution centers, factories, stores, supply chains and other locations.
By Samuel Greengard
Oct 28, 2016

Advancements in radio frequency identification during the past few years have resulted in more—and bigger—deployments. Rising RFID adoption rates worldwide and across industries can be attributed in large part to lower costs, more reliable and powerful technologies, best practices for implementation and a better understanding of the business case.

Yet, many organizations continue to grapple with RFID projects. To learn why, RFID Journal asked readers to contribute their thoughts and experiences through a survey, conducted in May. We sent questionnaires to all end users and potential end users of RFID in our database and received 140 responses. Roughly half the respondents reside in the United States or Canada, 21 percent in Europe, 11 percent in Latin America, 10 percent in the Asia-Pacific region, and 8 percent in the Middle East and Africa.

Survey respondents were self-selecting, though they cut across a wide range of industries and include government entities. While the respondents do not necessarily represent the global pool of companies interested in deploying RFID, the survey results provide some interesting insights into the views and practices of organizations researching and using RFID today. In addition, we followed up with some respondents to better understand how their organizations are using RFID, and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead.

The State of Adoption
Before any organization deploys RFID, experts say, it must develop a strategic plan. That includes understanding the conditions in which a business competes and how RFID can change the stakes, advised Bill Hardgrave, dean of Auburn University's Harbert College of Business and founder of the RFID Lab, in our Jan./Feb. cover story, Listen Up, Laggards! Many organizations are heeding this advice—50 percent of respondents said they have been reading about, learning about or generally following RFID technologies for more than four years, 15 percent for three to four years, and another 15 percent for two to three years.

Interest in RFID continues to grow: 9 percent of respondents said they have been researching RFID for one to two years, and nearly 12 percent said they've been researching RFID for less than one year.

The survey indicates that many companies are still figuring where and how best to employ RFID. Only 13 percent of respondents said they have deployed an RFID solution at all their facilities, while just over 30 percent said they have deployed a solution at some of their facilities, and 7 percent said they've completed a pilot and are planning a rollout. Roughly 12 percent said they are either completing an RFID proof of concept or running or planning to run a pilot. At the same time, 32 percent of respondents said they are researching RFID solutions but have not yet implemented the technology, while 6 percent have no plans for RFID within the next two years.

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