KUHN CAPITAL Monday, March 19, 2018
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Billions and Billions

March 6

While we have all been made wary by the wild demand projections of market researchers, there are reasons to believe that RFID is finally getting traction.

For one thing, uses for radio frequency identification are evident and the numbers are huge: take the tracking of pharmaceuticals and other high-value, small-size products alone. Then military and security concerns fuel another class of demand.

Recall Wal-Mart’s widely-publicized push to herd its vendors into RFID compliance, similar to what it did with barcodes. These major buyer initiatives are reminiscent of how car makers forced EDI on their reluctant suppliers in the Seventies. The result of that effort was an entrenched industry that still accounts for, according to many analysts, as much as 75% of all electronic commerce.

The snag has been in manufacturing tags at an attractive cost, in equipping readers with sufficient range, and in developing technical standards. See the RFID Journal for industry news.

Now comes IDTechEx, an RFID research house that claims these hurdles are being overcome at the same time that the value of the technology is earning more street cred. They say RFID sales will grow from about $2 billion in 2005 to $7 billion in 2008. Interestingly, they further argue that by 2010 about half of all RFID tags will be sold in East Asia, home to the world’s greatest concentration of manufacturers and distributors.

While such growth would clearly benefit RFID manufacturers and integrators, we’re particularly intrigued by the implications for SCM, data mining and business intelligence vendors. The amount of data generated by this technology will not only pose challenges in its staggering scale, but in its analyses.

As Carl Sagan may say, it’s the tracking of billions and billions of items over space and time!

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