EPCGlobal Co-Chair: RFID ROI "Has Been Pure Luck"

When EPCGlobal finally banged heads together to get an industry standard set of descriptors EPC data this month, it said that it would allow?for the first time?consistent data comparisons along the supply chain. A co-chair of one of the key working groups within EPCGlobal tried using the proposed standard's rollout as a way of giving RFID a second chance.

Last year, for example, was a very bad one?in general?for RFID, with many reports questioning the <a href="ROI viability of RFID, bolstered by retailers pulling back on trials and suppliers delivering the bare minimum to keep the retailers satisfied. Still, a few consumer goods giants managed to find ways to deliver a decent return on their RFID investment, including Boeing and Procter & Gamble.

But Bryan Tracey, co-chair of the Software Action Group at EPCglobal, said "people were not supposed to be getting ROI until they started sharing data" in a standardized way and that any ROI until now "has been pure luck."

He later moderated his comment, saying that any success would have actually been the result of very hard work cobbling together proprietary formats to achieve limited data-sharing. "The fact that people have pulled off any ROI without these standards is amazing to me," Tracey said. "It wasn?t supposed to happen."

Now, Tracey argues, the real RFID efforts can begin and the industry should judge RFID's successes on the kind of ROI results seen in the next year or two, as the standard starts being used. "We expect to start seeing real momentum this year," he said.