RFID: Great Promise, But Great Danger

As companies collect more data, and as the business demand for real-time data increases, so too will the demand for access to it. Right now, less than 15 percent of employees at an average organization have access to real-time information, according to Joe Thomas, global head of new business development for Capgemini. However, the emerging intelligence economy will demand that organizations empower at least 70 percent of their employees with real-time information and equip them with ways to use it.

Nowhere is that challenge more of a concern than with RFID technologies. "RFID holds great promise, but also great danger," says Kevin Poole, consulting services leader at Capgemini. "Done right, it gets you [data] at a level of detail and specificity—and in a timely manner—better than before. If it’s done wrong, there’s going to be between 10 times to 100 times more data available, and you run the risk of information overload." Poole says CIOs need to architect their systems to manage this flood of real-time data as well as apply business rules to help control and make sense of it all.

Hau Lee, the Thoma professor of Operations, Information and Technology at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, compares the RFID movement to a gold rush. "All of a sudden there’s this wealth of data," he says. "And as we all know, when you go to the gold rush, you need tools and techniques to filter and get the gold nuggets, because 90 percent of it is dirt."

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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