Working Together to Turn Information Into Business Value

By Mark Roberti

Companies need to work collaboratively toward achieving a successful RFID deployment.

It's always driven me a little crazy that many people who work at RFID companies think RFID Journal is a publication for techies. The vast majority of our readers come from end-user companies, and they have titles such as director of logistics operations, store operations manager, director of inventory control and vice president of logistics.

The people who read RFID Journal are seeking to solve business problems or improve the way they do business. But they can't do it alone, and as RFID has become more widely adopted, we have seen an increase in readers with titles such as director of IT, senior systems analyst and CIO. That's a good thing.

Photo: Sasa Stajic

The truth is, business and IT must collaborate to make an RFID deployment successful. For more than a decade, we've been advocating companies create a cross-functional team. The business manager of the unit in which the application will be deployed is as critical to the process as IT. Without the former, team members won't understand the business issues or the value of the solution, and without IT, it will be impossible to turn data from the RFID system into useful information employees can act on.

Our cover story examines how business and IT teams should come together to deploy successful RFID solutions. Disney, for example, makes it a policy to embed an IT expert within individual business teams. This helps bridge the gap in critical expertise between domains and improves the odds that systems and processes will remain in synch over time.

One industry in which the business side and IT are beginning to work together is steel production. It was once believed RFID wouldn't work on metal products, but as this issue's Vertical Focus shows, manufacturers and suppliers are finding that not only can passive RFID tags work on steel surfaces, they can help workers quickly identify slabs or rolls of different quality and gauges.

ThyssenKrupp turns steel slabs into products, such as coils for the automotive industry. The company developed its own solution to track steel across a multinational supply chain. Now, the firm can quickly identify steel being offloaded from ships in chaotic ports, which saves time and money. ThyssenKrupp also uses RFID to improve internal operations at its factories and warehouses.

Elsewhere in this issue, we describe ATEX-certified tags designed for use in industries in which there is danger of sparks causing an explosion (see Product Developments). We also explore advances that make RFID retail solutions easier to deploy and more intuitive, which increases the likelihood they'll be used by untrained staff (see Perspective).

Regardless of what industry you're in, or what side of the business you're on, I encourage you to work collaboratively toward achieving a successful deployment within your company.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.