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RFID Bookshelf

Amid the economic gloom, five recent titles shed light on new frontiers in radio frequency identification technologies and applications.
By John Edwards
Mar 29, 2010—While the Great Recession has chilled global business, it seems to have had the exact opposite effect on radio frequency identification innovation. In fact, the tough economy actually seems to be pushing the technology forward at a faster pace. With potential customers seeking new ways to lower costs and boost efficiencies across a range of business interests, RFID developers are finding themselves working ever harder to meet a growing demand for cheaper, better and more imaginative tracking systems and tools.

The enhanced technologies now pouring into the RFID marketplace are opening new frontiers in areas such as customer satisfaction, process optimization, operating frequencies, RFID sensor network security, and energy and utility industry applications. Five recent books examine RFID innovations in these areas, helping readers create and deploy RFID systems in new and unique ways. Here's a look at these titles.

RFID: Improving the Customer Experience
By Mickey Brazeal
Paramount Market Publishing, 2009
261 pages

While much has been written about RFID's role in supply chains, asset management and other key business functions, there have been surprisingly few books available on how the technology can be used as a marketing tool. That's a shame, since RFID has the potential to help companies attract new business and strengthen relationships with existing customers. In RFID: Improving the Customer Experience, Mickey Brazeal, a marketing professor at Chicago's Roosevelt University, shows how RFID is opening new opportunities for businesses interested in using the technology for customer service.

Brazeal begins the book with an introduction to RFID and its use as "a search engine for things." Next up is a look at the technology's potential to advance customer relationship, management and experience, as well as its ability to create entirely new business models. He then examines RFID's role in retail, promoting responsible environmental practices and product authentication and safety. He also devotes a chapter to "Personal Identification and Privacy," in which he discusses best practices for protecting data collected from consumer applications. Brazeal wraps up the book with an overview of RFID applications in event and attraction ticketing, payment systems and patient management.

Unlike books written by engineers and other technical experts, RFID: Improving the Customer Experience focuses almost exclusively on how RFID applications can be exploited to reach specific customer-related goals. Particular technologies and standards are mentioned only when doing so is necessary to explain how a certain process works.

Brazeal is an enthusiastic booster of RFID, which he views as the next logical step after customer relationship management technology, and he doesn't hide his support. "RFID can empower new services that make the [customer relationship] experience faster, more convenient, more intelligent, more fulfilling, healthier, safer, more eco-friendly, and in fact, more personal," he writes in the book's introduction. Yet, Brazeal does not let his admiration for RFID and its potential for improving customer relationships—and business profits—get in the way of facts. The book is filled with real-world deployment examples, carefully considered advice and straightforward explanations of complex RFID issues that often befuddle those new to the field.

Business managers who are already elbows-deep into RFID aren't like to find much new in RFID: Improving the Customer Experience. But for newcomers, and for managers who have not already considered the technology's potential customer-oriented benefits, this volume can open new doors.
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