Users and evaluators cited three specific approach and support requirements from their RFID middleware solutions providers:
- Document and share relevant experience. Users need to be working with RFID solution or middleware suppliers that have direct experience in customer applications, installation environments, vertical markets and business models. This is a fairly steep requirement — and one that users acknowledged as such — but one that they were explicit about. In terms of the supply chain, the market does not yet include robust case studies that are shared publicly — or privately. Moreover, the current library of ROI models are equally sparse and difficult to translate and replicate across customer accounts. Successful suppliers will differentiate themselves by their experience and their ability to share it.
- Deliver total solutions. This may be the most challenging issue to address. Too much is uncertain about RFID technical specification and system performance. Too many companies supporting RFID have very narrow capabilities. The RFID channel remains young, inexperienced and hugely uneven in its capabilities and performance. With all these moving parts, users and evaluators are understandably reluctant to commit to prototypes, pilots or rollouts. Successful suppliers will differentiate themselves and gain market access by investing in a total solutions or whole product market development approach. Given the enormous resources required to do this alone, this means that RFID solution and middleware suppliers will need to be proficient at identifying, forming, and supporting partnerships with suppliers of complementary technologies and services.
- Live up to the expectations created by the big IT vendors. Most of the non-product related vendor selection is driven by user experiences with large IT vendors. Some of the most-often cited user-identified "benefits" of working with RFID solution and middleware vendors include: comprehensive on-site professional services; detailed software version and feature release roadways; and operational expertise complementing the technical solution.
More information on the VDC report is available at http://www.vdc-corp.com/autoid/reports/03/br03-22.html.
Additional Articles of Interest
— For more information on trends relating to radio frequency identification (RFID), follow this link for an extensive listing of SDCExec.com articles, featuring the latest research findings on the RFID, including adoption, return on investment and barriers to implementation.
— For a contrary view of the future of the RFID market, see the article "The O'RFID Factor: A 'No Spin' Look at Where Radio Frequency Identification Is Headed," in the October/November 2004 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.