According to Marc D. Osofsky, vice president of marketing for Oat Systems, RFID is here. “People are realizing that they will have to run their businesses this way, and they are starting to live with it,” he told The New York Times on Monday. Well, hmm, Oat Systems is an RFID vendor, but the Times story, What’s in the Box? Radio Tags Know That, and More, would suggest he’s on track.
IBM is investing $250 million over the next five years and employing 1,000 people in a new business unit to support products and services related to RFID and other sensor networks. Wal-Mart has been famously first to drive the technology (see CIO’s The RFID Imperative, from last December about retailers leading the way), as has the Department of Defense. The Times mentions that Hewlett-Packard, which has been using RFID on its own products and providing consulting services to others, has said it now has 350 consultants on the task, as well as 1,000 other employees working on various aspects of RFID.
But it’s not all sunshine in RFID land. Many of RFID’s uses raise privacy concerns, and lawmakers have legislation underway to limit RFID use. But, as Institute for the Future’s director Paul Saffo told CIO last fall, convenience trumps privacy.
If, in light of pending legislation and consumer anxiety, you’re concerned about the ROI of RFID, see the cautious early report from Nucleus Research, An ROI Black Hole.