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Thirty years ago, it was hard to imagine that anyone could do their Christmas shopping with a few clicks on a computer keyboard. Today, millions of people Christmas shop from the comfort of their personal computers at home. We now take for granted new conveniences of the Internet; using our computers to communicate with our peers half way across the globe or instantly selling shares of an underperforming stock we read about moments before. However, back in the 1960s and 1970s, computers were only used by corporate giants or governments to perform complex mathematical tasks. The concept of networks and the possibility of connecting computers together to help make everyday life more convenient was only a vision of a few elite computer scientists. They recognized the inevitable as a function of economic feasibility.

Now in a rapid growth phase, RFID technology holds similar promise and will become as ubiquitous in our everyday lives as the automobile or the wheels that move it. This will happen as RFID technology continues to provide an undeniable value proposition and helps reduce cost and increase revenues for businesses using the technology. Thus, the question of mass adoption of RFID becomes a matter of answering the following questions:

  • Can RFID enable new profitable products and services?

  • Can RFID help improve existing business functions and operations?

  • Can RFID help increase competitive advantage?

  • Can RFID provide more value-added services and products to the consumer?

The answer to all these questions is, of course, yes. Today, we are well underway toward the ubiquitous adoption of RFID technology. There are already hundreds of millions of tags used in our everyday life—from tags in our car keys to tags around our luggage handles. We use RFID technology when we enter our office buildings or when we pump gas. We use RFID in our hospitals and in marathon races. The next phase for RFID is adoption within the supply chain, the supply chain of anything that ends up in a retail store—bottles of cough syrup, boxes of cereal , children's toys, office equipment, furniture, and so on. The retail store is the last stop for true mass adoption of RFID technology. The journey there requires many steps and will take some time as the economics continue to become more favorable.

Ultimately, RFID will achieve its full potential, as have other great technologies. It will usher in a new economic, business, and consumer revolution much like the automobile did when in 1914, Henry Ford opened the world's first automobile assembly line and revolutionized the face of transportation as we knew it.

1 Source: University of California, Berkeley: How Much Information 2003? http://www.sims. berkeley.edu/research/projects/how-much-info-2003/.

2 Source: Venture Development Corporation. Used by permission.

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