You are evaluating multiple options to deploy a scalable RFID system (hardware + software) for your enterprise – and all you come across are point solutions that are unable to articulate (or show) how the infrastructure that you are looking to deploy can be easily customized and evolve with your changing requirements over time…“Not to worry, we’ve got guys who can to take care of it” is the likely common refrain you hear….
A nagging question remains in the back of your head..How is this going to scale with my growing needs for years to come, let alone work as expected for my near term needs?
You’ve basically met the Elephant in the room and unfortunately there only seems to be more of the same… Now, this is a HUGE problem, as:
- Elephants are really heavy and hard to move once they settle in
- Elephants move extremely slowly, making you adjust to their pace (vs. the other way round)
- It’s a laborious process to get them to do anything other than what they want…and
- Elephants eat a lot of grass over their lifetimes (which happens to be green also)
And unless you do something different, you may very well end up with a solution that (unfortunately) looks something like this….
Well, take heart – all’s not quite doom and gloom yet – this is the problem that the team at S3Edge have been working on, and have a solution that will help you overcome the above obstacles while putting in place an infrastructure that effectively prevents the elephant from ever entering the room!
The S3Edge approach to systematically breaking down the barriers to adoption and enable a scalable infrastructure for your RFID application needs works as follows:
- It all starts with the humble, yet all powerful device The first thing we do is to systematically attack problems starting at the device layer: This means a deep understanding of the low-level device operations and architecting the solution with device independence in mind. The BizTalk RFID platform provides an abstraction layer to interact and leverage device features in a uniform manner (think windows device drivers) and at S3Edge we build these device providers for a multitude of hardware vendors (Impinj, Motorola – fixed, hand-held and forklift, Unitech, thingMagic, Omron, Magellan, Kinetics, Time Domain etc. to name a few) – a list which includes various types of h/w from passive to active RFID devices – because if this layer fails, all else fails.
We are in some sense ‘tied at the hips vs. the ears’ with the devices we support and recommend to our clients as this strategy enables us to stand behind the devices the application works with, and state with a high degree of confidence that this (the RTVS business applications we develop) will scale from 1-10-100 devices..all while giving the client the piece of mind that there is no proprietary mechanism to discover, connect / communicate, and manage heterogeneous device environments on Windows.
This is an area we take immense pride in (being the best BizTalk RFID provider writers on the planet!) and have often been called ‘market enablers’ by our hardware partners and customers – sometimes for enabling ‘PnP’ of their devices with other s/w applications on the Microsoft platform! But perhaps the more subtle fact that may often get missed (or sometimes unfortunately misrepresented due to our body of work in the provider enablement area) is the ‘market leaders’ tag that we enable for the end users by taking full advantage of intimate device knowledge and the BizTalk RFID platform in the application software (Real-Time Visibility Systems) we develop and deploy.
- This is then followed by a structured 3 phase approach to solution deployment To achieve near term results and longer term strategic differentiation with Real-Time Visibility Systems software, we recommend a three-phase deployment model: Observe, Direct, Improve. This approach starts with the deployment of an Observational System followed by integrating more directional business logic to handle exceptions and finally using the system as a framework to improve your business processes over time.
We are very big on getting data in and out quickly, efficiently – and it all begins with an Observational System (“Tag & Illuminate” as a customer succinctly put it) to allow you, the end-user to start seeing real-time information with zero lines of code once your devices are installed. In other words, the observational system (in the ‘Observe’ phase) clearly identifies and measure points in the existing material flow where high-cost errors occur, while the ‘Direct’ phase provides real-time alerts and direction to catch errors as they happen and prevent them from cascading – and finally the ‘Improve’ phase lets you build out a central business information platform that grows with your evolving operational needs for real-time data.To learn more about how the Observe, Direct, Improve methodology is working today for customers, check out my presentation at S3Edge RTVS Software Explained post.
- While always using standard development tools to implement customer-specific business logic The S3Edge Real Time Visibility Systems for Warehouse Operations, Discrete Manufacturing, and Supply Chain Asset Tracking are packaged in that they are easy to install and deploy and allow you to start seeing results from RFID data right away. It has been designed from the onset with the understanding that this is a mission critical component of your overall system. It includes all the enterprise ready characteristics you would expect from any business application: scalability, security, fault-tolerance and designed to grow with you changing needs over time. But perhaps the most significant differentiator is the fact that the solutions are built ground up on the Microsoft Application Server and Mobile platforms which essentially translates to no proprietary development environment to learn and support for the end user while connecting to controlling enterprise applications using standard connectors – there is no custom middleware or glue code and you get full leverage of the enterprise and mobile functionality that the Biztalk and .NET environments support, resulting in much lower TCO over a solution lifespan while taking advantage of built-in enterprise ready features for scalability, performance, and fault tolerance.
All of the above is always preceded by a detailed discovery session spent learning about your scenarios and requirements in deep detail followed by a ROI analysis that results in a “Investment vs. ROI profile”. In other words this is the clear articulation of what the investment (which encompasses hardware, software, services and YoY maintenance which is often overlooked) profile looks like side-by-side with the ROI profile in terms of hard $ numbers for ROI by year due the reduction in errors, and increase in labor utilization for your organization. Only if there is hard and tangible ROI for the end-users in terms of $ nos. from cost reductions do we typically even get into a deployment vs. betting on hypothetical or intangible ROI in terms of “if we do this i.e. deploy the RFID application, we are going to help you sell 3x more blue jeans and green sweaters”… not really our cup of tea ;)
In summary we’ve seen why custom solutions are almost always bad news for RFID applications, and how the differentiated S3Edge approach helps solve issues caused by these solutions in the following manner:
- By putting in place a packaged turnkey solution that can be easily customized for your needs,
- While enabling a “solution infrastructure” that evolves with your needs over time
Give us a call or send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if the above resonates with your needs – we’d love to hear from you and show you what we’ve got!
Next week, I plan on switching tracks a bit to talk about “Optimizing your RFID deployments for success: The top 5 factors that most influence a successful deployment of RFID applications in your Enterprise”, following which we’ll take a closer look at some of the scenarios that our packaged applications address in the discrete manufacturing and warehouse operations area (with detailed use case analysis and a focus on the ‘R’ in the ROI from the same). If you have any specific areas you’d like me to talk more about, would love to hear more!
Until the next post.
Skypeme @ “allthingsRTVS”