Leveraging RFID Data: IBM's New Websphere RFID Information Center - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Software // Information Management

Leveraging RFID Data: IBM's New Websphere RFID Information Center

IBM unveils its solution for company's looking for technology to deal with the "data tsunami" from sensors and radio frequency identification tags.

What's the best way to deal with the "data tsunami" building up thanks to the increasing implementation of sensors and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags? Finding an answer to that question is critical to gaining business value from new real-time data sources. Confusion on this score has been a major reason why some organizations have resisted fuller RFID deployment.

On December 15, IBM introduced Websphere RFID Information Center, a data repository that is based on the now-complete EPCglobal standard, called EPCIS (Electronic Product Code Information Service; see www.epcglobalinc.org). The news follows on IBM's introduction of packages delivered earlier this year, including the RFID Solution for Pharmaceutical track and trace. "We're building out our capabilities in the RFID space," says Jennifer Kahn, IBM's product manager for Websphere RFID Information Center.

Whereas the track and trace solution was aimed at data capture, the Information Center is focused on data sharing. "If parties along the supply chain are able to share data, they will gain ROI [return on investment]," Kahn explains. "The same system—and the same dollars—being employed to capture data to uncover counterfeit drugs, for example, will be available for many other use cases."

Because it is an implementation of the EPCIS, IBM's solution lets trading partners communicate in a standard way. EPCglobal is a subscriber-driven industry organization dedicated to the development of standards for RFID use in "fast-moving, information-rich trading networks," according to the organization. EPCIS specifies a standard interface for gaining access to EPC-related information.

Previously, with electronic data interchange (EDI), supply-chain partners were simply "pushed" all the information, whether they wanted it or not. Companies had to store loads of mostly irrelevant data to query for what they wanted. With the tsunami of sensor and RFID data, the EDI "push" style is clearly not going to work, which makes EPCIS critical. "With our EPCIS-based query interface, you can pull information instead of push," Kahn says. "There's a standard vocabulary, so that 'receiving,' 'picking,' and 'shipping' mean the same thing to every organization. When you receive a response, you know what it means."

Partners can set up "subscription" queries, such as "tell me when you ship me something" or perform ad hoc queries. Security and other role-based controls can help organizations set their data-sharing parameters.

Unilever, one of the drivers behind EPCglobal, is IBM's primary pilot partner for Websphere RFID Information Center. IBM spotlighted AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health, both major pharmaceutical distributors, as additional customer references. While pharma is a key industry for RFID use, Kahn described another interesting scenario currently in a pilot program: tracking beer shipments from Europe through US Customs. With captured sensor data stored in a Websphere RFID Information Center, customs officers can easily query the system to learn the shipments' luminosity, temperature and other factors. "They know the state of the product throughout its entire shipping history," Kahn says. "This lets them focus more on suspect containers; they know they can leave this one alone."

For information about pricing and availability, contact IBM.

David Stodder is editorial director and editor-in-chief of Intelligent Enterprise.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
White Papers
More White Papers
IT Careers: Top 10 US Cities for Tech Jobs
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  1/14/2020
Predictions for Cloud Computing in 2020
James Kobielus, Research Director, Futurum,  1/9/2020
What's Next: AI and Data Trends for 2020 and Beyond
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  12/30/2019
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Flash Poll