Observations from the year gone by, and expectations for 2011

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As another year in RFID industry rolls by (Year #5 going into #6 for me personally), it’s time to reflect and share some inner musings on what’s been learnt, and perhaps more importantly what to look forward to in the new year.

So w/o further ado, here are my top 3 things that transpired in 2010 with some thoughts for the season ahead:

#1: The march towards reliable, cheaper hardware continues & the innovation curve here will accelerate exponentially in 2011

Purport: 2010 saw  Hardware vendors unleash a range of devices in multiple form factors (readers – esp. mobile devices, antennae and tags),  with significant reliability and performance improvements, coupled with dropping prices – this can only mean good news for end-users and this innovation is expected to continue progressing at a torrid pace in the coming year.

The inside scoop: A broader alignment of objectives across various partners to come together and provide a solution of value to end-users  is resulting in more turnkey hardware solutions i.e. Partner expectations are lining up based on the type of markets they are targeting and this is being reflected on the hardware being produced, which is a good thing esp. for end-users customers who in turn are gravitating towards enterprise-grade software (middleware) platforms to integrate and take advantage of these numerous HW innovations over time.

#2: Packaged solutions with sustainable value for various verticals are here & this trend will only continue to accelerate in 2011

Purport: Solutions where RFID & Auto-ID are key enablers for real-time visibility and control in existing business processes have surfaced in vertical markets such as Healthcare (blood-bag tracking), Energy (tool-tracking), Financial Services (IT Asset Tracking), Discrete Manufacturing (Assembly line error-proofing, auto-ship), and Retail (item level inventory) given their ability to justify value, and  investments in an Auto-ID based automation system.

Expect this trend to solidify and expand as vendor expertise – to deliver on turnkey solutions addressing customer needs for specific vertical scenarios – increases in the coming year.

The inside scoop:  What we are seeing is a slow but sure march towards towards end-end, packaged solutions in vertical markets where RFID & Auto-ID technologies are making a deep impact in enabling a new level of automation to reduce errors, and improve operational efficiency (vs. current / manual processes). To do this, users are moving away from 1-off solutions to integrate real-time data into their business processes (given the cost and complexity in extending these solutions while incorporating new requirements or hardware) – and gravitating more towards enterprise-ready, scalable asset tracking solutions to build out these solutions.

And finally, here’s the ‘going on a limb’ prediction Smile

#3: Mission critical Auto-ID solutions emerged in 2010 and will become the gold-standard for deployment in 2011

Purport: Customers are looking at Auto-ID based solutions as part of their mission-critical enterprise (i.e. five 9’s in terms of reliability / uptime), and the factors that influence these are going to become more and important from a production-readiness perspective as we enter 2011 – and this will need to cover all parts of the solution being deployed (Hardware and Software).

The inside scoop:  This is great news overall both for the industry and for adoption– good for the industry because we’ll see a set of total solution providers separate themselves from the  rest based on their ability to deliver deliver on the requirements a mission-critical / scalable enterprise application demands, and good from an adoption perspective as an end-user betting on a mission-critical solution implies business criticalness of technology being used.

Hope you enjoyed this post, and would love to hear your thoughts on the above!

Cheers and Happy New Year!

/a

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