RFID being held back by lack of experts, survey finds

Related tags Rfid

The talent pool of RFID professionals is shallow and could impact
the successful adoption of the technology by companies keen to
comply with the expectations of major retailers, a recent industry
report shows, writes Simon Pitman.

Eighty per cent of companies participating in the survey said they do not believe there are sufficient numbers of professionals skilled in RFID to hire from today - the report from the Comupting Technology Industry Association​ (CompTIA) finds. Two-thirds of organisations (66.7 per cent) said training and educating their employees in the technology is one of the biggest challenges they will face in order to succeed in the RFID market.

"We believe the market needs hundreds of systems integration companies with RFID capabilities; and hundreds of thousands of individuals knowledgeable in this technology to meet current and future demand,"​ said David Sommer, vice president, electronic commerce, CompTIA.

Sommer presented the findings of the CompTIA survey in a presentation today at the RFID World 2005 conference in Dallas, Texas.

CompTIA says it is working with a cross section of major players in the RFID market to address the skills shortage. Product manufacturers, distributors, system integrators, education and training providers, and end-user customers are active in an effort to craft a vendor-neutral professional certification of RFID skills for individuals working with the technology.

The survey of CompTIA members found that customer adoption of RFID solutions is relatively modest. A significant number of companies - 71.4 per cent - said their customers have not implemented RFID solutions. For those organisations with customers that implemented RFID solutions, responding companies said that fewer than 20 per cent of their customers have done so.

Similarly, 80 per cent of the responding companies said either they have yet to go past the investigation stage of RFID implementation; or have done no investigation at all. Just 16 per cent have implemented one or more RFID pilot projects for themselves or their customers.

Survey respondents said their customers come from a variety of industries, including services, government, manufacturing, retail, health care, communications, and financial services and real estate.

When asked if they see their company offering RFID products and services in the next three years, 37.3 per cent of organisations said they definitely will; and 39.2 per cent said they would consider it if there is interest from their customers. Companies expect to offer hardware installation and maintenance services (82.1 per cent), software implementations (61.5 per cent) and other services (51.3 per cent).

The majority of respondents to the survey were value-added resellers and solutions providers (33.3 per cent); consultants and systems integrators (21.6 per cent); and manufactures (19.6 per cent). Two-thirds of the companies have annual revenues of up to $25 million; while 22 per cent are companies with annual revenues of $100 million or more.

So far companies in the US have been quickest to take up on the technology. In the manufacturing sector a lot of this movement is being driven by companies trying to comply with RFID requirements implemented by major retailers such as Wal-Mart.

This action has prompted many major players in industries such as the food and beverage industry, as well as the cosmetics and personal care industry to introduce the technology as a key part of their supply chain. Following on from this movement in the US, these companies are also starting to implement RFID systems to their operations in Europe, but at a slower pace.

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