Cultural problems slow RFID momentum overseas

Cultural problems slow RFID momentum overseas

The most compelling side to the RFID story is the untold tale of what the rest of the world is doing with it, observes a recent study compiled by Deloitte Consulting, ePC Group and Retail Systems Alert Group. “While there appears to be widespread interest in the potential of RFID technology, the interest also appears to be shallow,” the study notes. “Industry members are anxious to get in the pool, but they don't want to dive into the deep end.”

What's keeping everyone else from running to join the RFID parade? According to the study, two factors contribute to the reluctance.

  • The first is technical problems, related mostly to developing RFID tags with sufficient read rates. There are also some difficulties in affixing tags to products.
  • The second — and stronger — reason is cultural problems. “Almost 15% of retail respondents report internal distrust and animosity toward the IT department,” notes the study, “and approximately 30% indicate a fear of change within their organizations. Manufacturers and distributors report similar or even higher frequencies of these cultural problems.”

As for the rest of the community, more than 50% of manufacturers and providers of transportation and logistics services have established cross-functional RFID teams, but far fewer retailers and distributors have established such teams.

The survey indicates, however, that there is great interest at many levels in RFID adoption, with a belief that there will be some benefit in actual work and return on investment over the next five years.

“Commitment is not yet firm,” says the study, “as revealed by limited dollars allocated to RFID development. However, there is more to the picture than money, and overall the picture is bright.” LT

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June, 2004

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