Due to schedule conflicts, SCDigest was not able to attend last week's RFID Journal Live event in Orlando.
But, the analysts at IDC were, and we publish here the observations of IDC Leslie Hand. To know surprise, attendees and crowds were done, likely due to the economy and continuied travel cut backs, but also likely due in part to the inevitable commodization of the core technology, as happended to bar codine 15 years or so earlier.
IDC sees the same things we have been reporting on here, including little action in the supply chain outside of logistics asset tracking and item-level tracking in footware and apparel; a high percent of the market still being driven by government and defense-related projects across the globe; and asset tracking continues to attracting lots of interest.
IDC also believes a lot more basic RFID education is needed to spur adoption.
"This year, it was less frenetic, perhaps a little smaller, with fewer vendors and end users in attendance, but very well grounded," Hand wrote. "Solid examples of really good business cases shined, while real technological progress and maturity was evidenced everywhere."
Hand then offers 10 specific observations:
(1) End-user expectations have matured significantly: End-users are seeking packaged configurable applications that can be implemented and supported easily. Science projects are not acceptable nor are hefty upfront custom development costs.
(2) Industry focused basic RFID education is necessary: A new set of interested end users requires continuous industry-based education. Vendors need to refresh a variety of messages to meet the needs of end-users who have just initiated RFID explorations and those who have a more mature understanding. Vendors should take their messages to end-user focused events to engage a broader audience.
(3) The vendor community has matured significantly: Vendors have clearly identified their place in the RFID ecosystem and strong vendor partnerships have evolved. See my recent report, Best Practices: Never Knew Loss Like This Before, April 2010, IDC Retail Insights Doc # GRI222746, to see a picture of our view of the RFID vendor ecosystem. Vendor messages are succinct and technology is hardened and mature. There are still new players entering the space with new ideas about how to streamline processes and drive down costs, easing adoption for many end-users - see #7, 8 and 9 below for examples.
(4) Innovation is still taking place, but there is no need to wait for the next big breakthrough: Examples of continuing innovation include:
- Intelleflex's focus on standardized Gen 2, Class 2 tags - very promising, as they make low cost passive tags with memory a reality for a multitude of asset tagging applications.
- Tageos's is developing inlay-less high performance passive tags with aluminum antenna which will dramatically reduce tag prices once they initiate mass production, planned for later this year.
- RFID Global Solutions - they are planning on delivering RFID in the cloud for retailers - this will be subscription based software and services, dramatically reducing the cost of entry. This may help many retailers get started, but many may scrutinize network traffic and security.
(5) Asset tagging, RTLS and transit pass projects pay the bills for many vendors: Asset tagging initiatives still comprise a significant proportion of RFID technology sales. Supply chain, work in process and in-store operations projects are on the rise. End-users will be interested in investigating Precyse Technologies bi-directional wireless asset management infrastructure, since they announced that they provide it for free. RTLS vendors including Aeroscout, Ubisense, Ekahau and Zebra's WhereNet continue to win new customers with wireless RTLS.
(6) Projects that involve government, defense and aerospace organizations abound: This has been great news for vendors including Odin, Savi, GlobeRanger and Unisys. The number of Boeing, Airbus, US Air Force, US Navy and DoD projects continue to grow as efforts extend more broadly. Health care initiatives continue, primarily in asset tagging and cold chain, but pharmaceutical item-level tracking projects increasingly leverage 2D barcode.
(RFID and Automatic Identification Article - Continued Below)