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05:23 PM

RFID At Your Service

IBM offers comprehensive supply-chain deployment-and-integration help

January 2005 is the deadline Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has set for its top suppliers to implement radio-frequency-identification technologies for tracking pallets of goods through its supply chain. And it isn't all that far away. That's got some companies thinking about how they will integrate the components of an RFID deployment and prioritize investments to derive the most value from these rollouts.

IBM this week will launch a service that combines consulting and integration help for deploying RFID microchips and related equipment from vendors, including Alien Technology, Intermec Technologies, Matrics, and Royal Philips Electronics. The service also will help businesses integrate data from the tags with internal and trading partners' systems. The offering is based on IBM's WebSphere Business Integrator running on WebSphere Application Server, DB2 Information Integrator, Tivoli Access Manager, and WebSphere Portal Server.

The service includes developing a customized business case and assessing end-to-end costs and benefits of an RFID rollout. Working with IBM is helping Kim- berly-Clark Corp. sort through issues related to what's expected to be a years-long RFID deployment, says Mike O'Shea, director of corporate auto ID/RFID strategies and technology for the consumer-products manufacturer. "We have to be cautious," he says. "If you move too fast where technology hasn't been thoroughly tested and developed, and if it's cost prohibitive, we can have a technological holocaust here."

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