According to a study from ABI Research, the RFID market will increase at a 15 percent compound annual growth rate over the next five years. By Jenny Donelan
March 17, 2009
RFID Extends Its Reach
According to a study from ABI Research, the RFID market will increase at a 15 percent compound annual growth rate over the next five years.
By Jenny Donelan
Hype may have preceded reality for RFID (radio frequency identification) over the last several years, but no more. "RFID is here and now," says Mike Liard, research director, RFID and Contactless, for ABI Research. And if RFID hasn’t yet put barcodes into their graves, as some experts predicted it would, the wireless technology is certainly making healthy inroads in a variety of industries and applications. According to a study from ABI Research, the RFID market will increase at a 15 percent compound annual growth rate over the next five years.
While much of that market will continue to include mega-retailers such as Wal-Mart, SMBs will also be part of the mix. In fact, SMBs have some of the "coolest" applications, according to Amninder Singh, vice president of products and services for Ship2Save, an RFID systems integrator based in Montreal.
For example, Ship2Save recently developed an application for a car dealership that helps prevent vehicle theft. Singh is also seeing RFID applications in vertical SMB markets: Law firms are using RFID to help track and locate documents. Medical clinics are using it for inventory tracking, thus freeing up nurses to care for patients.
Ship2Save first got into the RFID business by implementing solutions for SMBs reacting to Wal-Mart’s now-famous mandate that its top suppliers begin using RFID in 2003, and the rest by 2006. At the time, says Singh, "these clients were not looking for ROI. They needed compliance." These days, however, companies large and small are also starting to examine ROI, as well as best practices and other ways that RFID technology can streamline and optimize operations. Says Liard: "Two years ago, compliance was the big driver. Not anymore."
What companies are asking, he says, is: "Now that we’ve captured the data, how do we leverage it?" According to ABI’s recent research, primary drivers for SMBs adopting RFID include business process improvement, system extendability, and removal of human intervention (no people with scanners needed, as with barcodes).
Another tempting piece of data from the report: Of the 103 SMBs surveyed, only about 12 percent had an RFID system installed. Some were in the process of testing or evaluating one. But a full 65 percent had never used or tested RFID applications. In other words, the field is wide open. Accordingly, channel partners should think creatively in terms of RFID applications. For example, a manufacturing client preparing to launch a new ERP or BI system would be well advised to look into whether RFID would fit well with the mix.