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RFID: A Strong Technology in a Weak Economy

Can radio frequency identification give businesses a fighting chance against hard times? A growing number of companies are convinced that it does.
By John Edwards
Dec 19, 2011—With the "soft" economy now entering its fourth year, by some estimates, it's easy to understand why many business leaders are tempted to belt out a few bars of the old Merle Haggard tune "Are the Good Times Really Over?"

For many companies facing dismal markets and depressing financial outlooks, it's not a question of getting back to business as usual, but grabbing onto a life ring that will keep them afloat for the duration. While radio frequency identification alone can't restore the good times, a growing number of businesses are convinced the technology can help them better survive the tough period, however long it lingers, and position them to hit the ground running once the economy gets back in gear. By powering revenue-building innovations and allowing adopters to run smarter, leaner operations, RFID is filling a critical role for companies that have already made the most of all the traditional recession-fighting tools at their disposal.


Photo: iStockphoto

"Everybody is a little scared about what's going on in the economy," observes Drew Nathanson, VP of the Auto ID practice at VDC Research, a technology market research firm in Natick, Mass. "There's a lot of volatility, and volatility typically means holding onto your money." Nathanson thinks now is the time for businesses in almost any field to consider implementing or expanding their use of RFID. "The value proposition is proven; it's a smart investment," he says. "The benefits adopters get are immense, especially the influence on the bottom line."

Businesses that employ RFID to save money or create new revenue streams can protect their bottom line and market share, leaving budget slashing and employee layoffs as absolute last resorts, says Anthony Palermo, director of business development at the Academia RFID Centre of Excellence, an RFID training, certification and consulting firm in Montreal. "People are always looking to find ways to make things more efficient, but when the [financial] crisis happened, many organizations went overboard," he says. "I think people just cut; they cut their budgets, they cut their staff—it was reactionary. Now, businesses are being proactive by looking at ways to make things more efficient." That way, he adds, they'll be ready if the economy falls into a double-dip recession.

Here's an in-depth exploration of why four organizations in different sectors adopted RFID during these tough economic times, and how they are benefitting from the technology.
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