Magazine Article | August 21, 2008

Take The RFID 'Risk'

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Some businesses consider RFID (radio frequency identification) adoption ‘too risky’ because of pricing and integration concerns, but the real risk could be waiting too long to begin your RFID initiative.

Integrated Solutions, Industry Leaders In RFID

One trait common to most business leaders is that they're not averse to taking calculated risks. Take Bill Gates, for example. The former founder and CEO of Microsoft is a quintessential risk taker. His bold directives helped transform the PC from a glorified number-crunching calculator into a platform for mass communication. Plus, his drive to branch out into new and unfamiliar areas for Microsoft, such as databases and Web browsers, helped fuel the company's growth in more recent years.

To be a leading adopter of RFID today takes a pioneering spirit similar to that of Gates'. While concerns surrounding the costs and integration complexity of RFID implementations have caused many businesses to take a 'wait-and-see' approach, the pioneers and leading adopters in the industry recognize the transformational potential of RFID and are committing their budgets to these projects today. While several businesses are holding out for a 'plug and play' RFID system, industry leaders are currently building solutions through continuous pilot testing of the technology in efforts to fine-tune and better understand their processes. And while some have been soured by past RFID failures brought on by a rush to comply with top retailer mandates, the visionaries are looking beyond compliance and innovating to realize the tangible ROI and competitive advantage RFID technology can provide a business.

True, the real-world ROI of RFID is still a mystery to many businesses at this time, and this has probably kept the RFID space from growing in line with the overhyped projections from a few years ago. However, evidence of this ROI is abundantly available, if you know where to look. We chronicle the RFID success stories of businesses like yours in every issue of Integrated Solutions. For example, in this month's issue we feature the RFID initiative of Daimler Trucks North America. This company implemented an automated RFID solution to track inventory replenishment throughout its manufacturing facility in Portland, OR. The solution helped the company increase inventory accuracy for shipping and production-line picking, reduce labor involvement and costs associated with inventory control, and reduce inventory pick errors.

It's documented successes like these that will help drive the growth of RFID going forward. These stories will help inspire other leaders to leverage RFID in new and exciting ways. This trend is already beginning to transpire, with RFID now being used in applications such as front-office document management, sport and game tracking, small to midsize supply chain deployments, asset tracking, and fighting counterfeiting.

As the RFID market continues to mature, your window of opportunity to become a leader in the space gets smaller. If you've been hesitant to deploy RFID because you feel the cost, complexity, and technical maturity of the technology makes it a 'risky' proposition, do yourself a favor and read the RFID case studies presented in each monthly issue of Integrated Solutions. Furthermore, read the advice (from ABI Research analyst Michael Liard and key RFID vendor executives) and technical information provided in this supplement. Once you do, you may realize that what you once perceived as risk is actually a huge opportunity for RFID to have immediate bottom-line impact on your business. In fact, the real risk may be continuing to wait to put your RFID initiatives into action. By waiting to deploy RFID, you could simply be deferring costs to engage in a later, more expensive, initiative to catch up with the industry leaders.