Why the ‘Experts’ Don’t Recommend RFID

By Mark Roberti

The truth is that many consulting firms tell customers what they want to hear or simply recommend the safe options that other consultants are recommending.

Years ago, when I first launched RFID Journal, a representative from one of the leading technology consulting firms came up to me at RFID Journal LIVE! and said, "Our customers are all asking about RFID. That's why I'm here."

I didn't say it, but here's what I was thinking: "Wait a minute. These companies are paying your firm thousands of dollars a year to keep them up to date about the technologies they need to implement, and they have to tell you to go research RFID? Shouldn't you already be on top of this and be advising them?"

Not much has changed in 20 years. Technology consulting firms still seem to be clueless about RFID. I read reports about the critical technologies for companies to adopt each year, and RFID is never on the list. I see reports on what companies in industries must do, and they say things like "improve inventory visibility" and "get inventory accuracy rates up." They never say how. It makes me want to become a consultant. I could do well consulting for sports teams. "Sir, your team needs to score more goals." Thanks a lot.

I don't want to paint everyone with the same brush. There are some great consultants out there, but the fact is that many tell customers what they want to hear. If they know a retailer has a dim view of RFID technology, they won't educate that company about why their view is misguided or out of date. Why risk losing the customer?

Another issue, I believe, is that consultants don't want to go out on a limb and potentially risk earning a reputation of being wrong—or, worse, being fired. Just as CEOs are reluctant to be the first in their industry to adopt a new technology, consultants do not want to be the first to issue a report declaring a specific technology is critical to their customers. It's safer to promote what others are already promoting.

Eventually, RFID will reach a tipping point and all consultants will recommend it to their customers. Until then, it will be up to executives to educate themselves and learn how the technology can cut costs and dramatically improve efficiencies.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal.