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Moving Forward—At Last

An analysis of attendance at RFID Journal LIVE! over the past six years indicates that the adoption of RFID technologies is starting to take off.
By Mark Roberti
Jun 01, 2008RFID Journal launched RFID Journal LIVE!, our annual conference and exhibition, in June 2003, to bring high-quality education to those who wanted to hear directly from early adopters and meet the leading vendors. The first show was small: We had 275 attendees, two days of education in two tracks and 19 vendors with tables (no booths).*

The event has grown with the RFID market. This year, we had 10 preconference seminars, eight tracks, RFID+ certification training and two co-located events. More than 3,300 people attended, and 175 vendors filled the 100,000-square-foot exhibit hall.

We know from surveys and anecdotal evidence that end users attend the event to learn the business benefits RFID can deliver; it's often the first investment in RFID that any company makes. Vendors are attracted to the event because it gives them the opportunity to meet the potential customers furthest along the adoption curve. And systems integrators, consultants, venture capitalists and others use the event to get up to speed on RFID.

By analyzing six years of data on attendees at RFID Journal LIVE!, we get an accurate picture of the state of RFID adoption today. The data presented below strongly suggests that more end users are adopting RFID, more vendors are developing products to make it easier to deploy the technology, and more people are learning the skills needed to help companies integrate the technology into business processes so they can reap the benefits of RFID.

*Note: All attendee figures include end users, vendors, systems integrators, consultants, venture capitalists and others.

The rapid growth in attendance in the first four years of RFID Journal LIVE! is indicative of the buzz surrounding RFID, which has driven companies to get educated about the technology. Each year, the number of companies attending RFID Journal LIVE! for the first time has declined, partly because vendors send the same people year after year, but also because each year there are fewer people coming just to learn the basics and more returning to hear about deployment strategies.

In addition to how often a company sends attendees, the number of people a company sends indicates an end-user company's level of interest in deploying RFID, and the level of commitment to the market by RFID technology providers. The average number of people has grown steadily each year, except for 2007, when exhibitors cut back the number of booth staff they sent in anticipation of a slowing market. In 2003, the most people sent by an end-user company was four; at LIVE! 2008, it was 18.

Each year, the number of attendees from overseas has grown, but the number exploded in 2008. This was due, in part, to the co-location of the IEEE RFID 2008 event and the EPCglobal Joint Action Group meeting. It's also because more Chinese and Korean manufacturers are entering the market, and both countries sent large delegations this year.

The percentage of attendees who said they plan to invest in RFID over the next 12 months has steadily increased, but the percentage of those who are unsure remains fairly high, indicating that many companies are not yet convinced of the benefits RFID can deliver.
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