RFID Journal LIVE! at Twenty

By Mark Roberti

For the past two decades, the annual conference and exhibition has been a key driver of RFID adoption around the world.


Back in 2018, Robert Blankenburg, Lloyd Luettke and Ronald Mills of  General Motors gave a keynote presentation at that year’s  RFID Journal LIVE! conference about how they were using radio frequency identification technology and Bluetooth Low Energy beacons to track tens of thousands of tools on loan to some 3,000 suppliers (see  GM Transforms Tool Tracking with RFID). During the presentation, Mills put up a slide that showed him and Blankenburg in the audience a year or two earlier.

“I’ve been in the audience at this conference for the past four years, learning about RFID,” Mills said. “In fact, here’s a picture of Bob and I… We learned about RFID at the event. We’ve benchmarked. We’ve talked to other manufacturers. We’ve talked to all different solutions providers, and we’ve learned a lot at this event.”

These three speakers from GM were not the only ones who have gone from the audience to the stage. This has happened quite often throughout the past 20 years. In 2009, Zander Livingston, the director of RFID at the then-thriving  American Apparel retail chain, spoke about his experiences with RFID Journal LIVE! (see  RFID Delivers Benefits for American Apparel).

“About a year and a half ago,” Livingston recalled, “the CEO came to me and said, `Zander, I have lost stock all over my stores. Can RFID help me locate this lost stock?’ Two years ago, I was at an RFID Journal LIVE! event, sitting out there where you guys are, and Mark Roberti was on stage talking about what RFID can do. I went back to the CEO and said, ‘RFID absolutely can locate that lost stock for you.'”

Livingston went on to say that the CEO thought approximately 10 percent of inventory in the store was being lost or misplaced. After conducting a pilot at several stores, however, he learned that there was actually around 20 percent of stock that had gone missing. The company went on to become one of the first to deploy RFID on every item at all of its stores (and no, that’s not the reason it later went bankrupt).

Thousands of companies have attended the event during the past two decades, and they’ve learned from other businesses that have already deployed the technology successfully because we work really hard—and I do man really hard—to get the companies using the technology to come and speak. Not all are willing to share their stories, but many feel obligated to RFID Journal since we provide high-quality articles online and speakers at our events, and they want to give something back.

Each article we publish online, as well as every presentation we offer at RFID Journal LIVE!, touches many people and many companies. It was RFID Journal’s stories about Walmart using RFID to track inventory, in fact, that led  Airbus‘s Carlo Nizam to invest in a pilot that led to the global use of RFID at the aircraft maker (see  Airbus Continues to Innovate). Carlo then spoke at several events to share Airbus’s story with other manufacturers—even its chief competitor,  Boeing.

I’m very proud of the role RFID Journal and RFID Journal LIVE! have played in the radio frequency identification industry since 2002. And I hope our team can continue to play this role for another 20 years to come.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal.