Many manufacturers, retailers and other services have invested in RFID applications, but the return on those investments is still unclear. The business value of RFID is beginning to surface but it is an emerging story. We need effective measurement so we can better understand the business value of embedded ITs like RFID.
There is a need to assess RFID’s impacts and to establish what may prevent companies from achieving acceptable returns on this technology investment.
Observation and data collection of notable RFID leaders in retailing, including Wal-Mart and Metro Group, has revealed some information but nothing conclusive, some pilot tests, few provable operational initiatives, and some interesting differences between European and U.S. companies’ efforts.
Many factors may be slowing the pace of the implementation of RFID beyond the pallet level, including privacy concerns, slower-than-expected declines in RFID tag prices, debates on setting standards, and problems in developing enhanced business processes.
There are other issues in establishing the parameters of RFID – is it identifiable as a new technology? Could it also be evaluated as just another B2B technology such as EDI? Must we examine this B2B technology in the context of existing theories? They might include issues as innovation diffusion and knowledge transfer, establishing process-based value, issues around incomplete contracts and joint ventures across firm boundaries, or the ownership of information.
A discussion on existing published RFID studies, as well as some of the trade-press reports to provide a report card on the extent of business value attained from RFID is due. Addressing some of the discussions around this seemingly neutral technology for example, is the e-business value is needed. It is unclear where the value lies – at the pallet level, the box level or the item level.
We want to explore which players are ahead of the pack in the RFID race Where are the geographical leaders – are Europeans, Asians or Americans farther along in their exploration of RFID value? Privacy problems need to be addressed and standards designed.
Governance issues, such as those that are Internet based on data and people gives way to what the United Nations and the International Telecommunications Union have called the ‘Internet of Things’ is likely to have significant impact on this field.