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When a group of twenty RFID vendors announced the formation of a ‘patent pool’ consortium intended to simplify and streamline users’ access to RFID intellectual property, they signaled yet another step towards maturity for the young RFID industry. RFID is no longer just about hardware — tags and readers — says Erik Michielsen, ABI Research’s director of RFID and ubiquitous networks. Many of the companies involved in the announcement have broadened their focus to include full integration of RFID with end-users business’ systems. These and many other integrators and their services are the subject of ABI Research’s study, “RFID Integration Services Markets,” which includes models for RFID verticals and applications with a focus on RFID reader, software (middleware) and systems integration services. “Today, it is no longer a question just of trials and compliance testing,” says Michielsen. “Now it is about building scalable, high volume, high value integrated solutions that use RFID to collect information, then putting that information into well-designed enterprise infrastructures where it can be used to drive more agile and informed business decision-making. It is a process of making that core tag information more meaningful.” Examples include avoiding theft in the pharmaceutical supply-chain, improving manufacturing productivity through RFID tracking, increasing promotion visibility at retail stores, reducing inventory or building more comprehensive, globally scalable integrated solutions for the homeland security or defense. It is also about companies relocating themselves in a shifting competitive landscape. Companies large and small, coming from different backgrounds in IT, applications development and systems integration are seeking appropriate partners in different markets. Large IT-based firms such as IBM (with its WebSphere RFID Device Infrastructure), Microsoft, SAP and Oracle are actively tying RFID information into enterprise architectures, while smaller fry such as TrueDemand Software, OATSystems, Connecterra and ACSIS try to redefine themselves to complement their bigger neighbors.
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