RFID Will Go Only As Far As BI Takes It - InformationWeek

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Commentary
3/15/2004
09:58 AM
Ted Kemp
Ted Kemp
Commentary
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RFID Will Go Only As Far As BI Takes It

RFID data is only as good as it is actionable. That's where business intelligence will come in.

These days the business technology illuminati love talking about radio frequency identification technology, and when they do, their conversations are usually limited to a few subjects: how much RFID tags cost, how data yielded by the technology will benefit businesses, and how industry will navigate the privacy minefield RFID presents.

But data is only as good as it is actionable. That's where business intelligence will come in.

Imagine this: There are retail and consumer package goods companies out there that hope to someday individually identify every item -- not every product type, and not every brand name, but every item -- that they sell. The result will be a supply chain efficiency and marketing bonanza.

Or so it's hoped. RFID is in the very early going, and there's been little talk about how companies will store, integrate and analyze such a monumentally staggering amount of data.

The technology's momentum is undeniable, however, and eventually it'll be the BI professionals who sort through the data quagmire. This week market research firm Venture Development Corp. upped its compound annual growth forecast for the RFID market to 37 percent through 2005.

Right now, a handful of companies including Procter & Gamble, Wal-Mart, Target and, most recently, Albertsons are pushing RFID's adoption. The industries exploring RFID, however, go beyond retail and CPG and even beyond the private sector. Of course, where the technology buyers lead, the technology suppliers usually follow. Also this week, IBM announced an acquisition - of Trigo - that it hopes will help position it in the forefront of the RFID market.

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