Are there any specific issues with the technology that you would consider the greatest problems companies face when deploying radio frequency identification?
I don't think there are any specific issues with the technology that you can point to and say, "This is the biggest problem companies deploying RFID are facing." The technology works well. The problems that are typically encountered vary by company and by industry. That said, here are some of the common issues I often hear about:
Failure to adequately vet systems integrators. Some companies want to deploy RFID on the cheap, and will thus seek out a local integrator that says they can "do RFID." Often, it turns out that they can't, and they want to learn at the customer's expense. These projects often fail and need to be rescued by a capable systems integrator. My advice is to vet integrators carefully. Find out what work they've done—and be sure to get references.
Doing all the software in-house. Often, large companies are forced to use in-house IT resources to write code for their RFID system. The goal is to keep the staff busy, but this often leads to problems if the IT people don't know anything about RFID. Use RFID software and have your integrator write APIs to your existing back-end systems.
Failing to finding the right tags. Items made of metal or with high water content require special RFID tags. Some companies want to buy inexpensive tags or use the same tag on everything, and they end up with tags that don't work on a sizable percentage of the items or assets they want to track.
Poor planning. Some companies fail to follow the basic steps needed to have a successful deployment. They do not identify the problem or problems they want to solve. They do not develop a good business case. They don't conduct a pilot to prove benefits can be achieved. Rather, they carry out a pilot to prove the technology works. It's important to identify the problems that need to be solved, and to develop a solid business case.
Failure to train workers. RFID involves doing tasks in new ways. Workers need to be trained. I also recommend consulting with those who will use the system, in order to gain their insights into how they think the system can deliver value.
I hope these suggestions prove helpful. We sell a PDF titled "How to Choose the Right RFID System: A Step-By-Step Guide," and we also offer a "Best RFID Deployment Practices" guide that may be helpful to you.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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