Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology has gained immense popularity in recent years and is sought-after for business process automation across industries worldwide. The advanced technology  provides complete visibility, brings in efficiency, and allows complete control over business processes.

Almost a decade ago, RFID technology was still in its initial growth phase, with only government initiatives and a handful of companies implementing it. The global RFID market witnessed a sudden decline in implementation during the 2008 financial crisis; implementation remained low in the following years. Although the technology had proven to be beneficial, companies were thinking more in terms of return on investment (RoI). This temporarily stalled market growth as the majority of prospective end users took the wait-and-see approach. Front-runners in RFID adoption, however, continued using the technology even during the economic crisis for better RoI and profitability; as a result, they performed better and weathered the crisis.

Taking lessons from the front-runners, many companies ultimately went ahead with business automation and deployed RFID. Although this was a wise business decision, a gap developed between early adopters and new adopters: While early adopters reaped the benefits of early RFID deployment and reached a position to enjoy efficiency and profitability, new adopters had to wait for their RoI. Although they lost a competitive edge, they would still grow in the short and medium terms.

RFID laggards, however, waited until the majority of their competitors implemented the technology — even though many successful businesses proved its benefits. The laggards, by choosing short-term profits over long-term benefits, clearly lose the game in today’s cut-throat, competitive business environment.

An RFID laggard in today’s global business set-up, where technology innovation is key and technology has become the key business enabler, will not be able to survive in the long run. A laggard must determine its most crucial areas and start implementing RFID for those product or service portfolios. Laggards do have an advantage in that they can choose the most advanced technology available, while it is only a matter of time until early adopters must invest to update older technology.

Even though a chasm exists between early RFID adopters and laggards that are still considering RFID implementation, laggards can remain in the game if they adopt advanced technologies soon — though it will still be difficult for them to reach the levels of operational efficiency, profitability, visibility, and customer satisfaction that the front-runners enjoy. Laggards must have a vision about their growth in terms of products and services and compare themselves with the front-runners in their space to succeed.

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