RFID: What To Consider Before Taking the Plunge


At RFID World on Monday, John Rommel, senior manager of RFID channel development at Motorola, answered that question for resellers by detailing the steps they can take toward creating a successful RFID practice and illustrating potential pitfalls. First and foremost, RFID is not a technology sale.

"Don't let compliance fool you," Rommel told the audience during a session sponsored by specialty distributor BlueStar (RFID World, in Grapevine, Texas, is sponsored by CMP Technology, CRN's parent company). "You still must perceive the customer's problem, be able to propose a valid solution and be able to deliver an application that meets the customers needs -- it's still a technology that needs to be sold. It's all about the application, not the technology."

Rommel urged resellers to incorporate RFID slowly into their solution portfolios and not depend on the fledgling technology to save a floundering business or to help them break into new vertical markets. Selling to your current customer base is a good start.

"I bet you everybody you're selling to now knows a little bit about RFID and has a application in mind," he said. "This is a growing technology still. You're going to do a lot of pilots, a lot of small jobs first. It's not something you're going to just drop in today and two months from now close in on mega-deals."

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Money is to be made in the RFID field in services, which can make up 60 percent of a RFID project, Rommel said, and the hardware has yet to become commoditized, so margins are still high. "Having a knowledge of this and having a practice built around professional services as well as the hardware and software can be valuable to you as well," he said.

When in doubt, he said, plan to partner, but do so with companies that will be around long enough to help you create solutions for your customers that will last and who will provide services and support beyond next year. It's also important to design for the future, Rommel said.

"I can tell you that people are already deinstalling RFID systems they installed two years ago because they're too small," he said. "RFID systems will grow throughout the enterprise."

That also means knowing how RFID works and which product sets will work in different situations. Know the technology and whether active or passive tags will do the trick. For example, what is the range of readers and tags?

"You wanna play with this stuff. RFID is not an out-of-the-box technology," Rommel said. "There is not an overabundance of integrators who really know this technology. There are a lot of people who sell it, but there aren't a lot that really know this technology. If you have that in your bag of tricks, if you can be one of those guys, you can go far because there's not a lot of competition out there for you."