If 2003 was the year the market awakened to supply chain-based RFID, 2004 will surely be the year it readies for school. The two mandates for 2005, set by Wal-Mart and the US Department of Defense (DoD), pushed RFID into the public eye, and moved it from company science experiment to boardroom priority, with a focus on improving enterprise-wide operations. Now, manufacturers, the suppliers of Wal-Mart and the DoD, are diving into an increasingly busy RFID market already brimming with developing standards, large company entrants, start-up software developers and numerous system integrators. Despite some recognizable large company names, success is still to be determined, says technology research firm ABI.

Texas Instruments, Symbol Technologies, NCR, Philips and Sun Microsystems are only some of the biggest companies that have entered the world of RFID. Some recognizable names have entered the RFID fray as systems integrators, namely IBM, Accenture, BearingPoint, Unisys, RedPrairie and Manhattan Associates. Process questions abound, such as where to store the data, what data should be stored, how to secure and maintain data, and what is the optimal method to integrate data with existing business solutions. Some integrators, such as SAP, are developing enterprise-level RFID patches for customers. There are others, known as warehouse management companies, which include Manhattan Associates, RedPrairie and Provia. Long-time DoD integration partners such as Unisys, Lockheed Martin and Accenture are stepping up government-based RFID efforts. “Due to the time constraints and the still developing standards, prior relationships will drive RFID integration contracts even more than previous rollouts, such as ERP or supply chain management systems,” notes Erik Michielson, ABI senior analyst. “This is not necessarily good for the RFID business, as the process discourages competition and rewards relationships over capabilities. The upside is that established relationships will better enable scalable, successful solutions due to better understanding of environment, staff and business goals.”

ABI’s report, “RFID: Emerging Applications Driving R&D Investments and End-user Demand,” follows the technology for applications including asset management, supply chain management and point-of-sale. The study breaks down RFID standards, applications and vertical markets and provides marketplace forecast though 2008. Reader shipments and revenue are provided as well as data on different RFID transponder and component markets. In addition, selected vendors, integrators, developers and IC manufacturers are analyzed, along with their various technologies and product offerings.

Additional information on the RFID landscape can be found in an upcoming report from ABI, “RFID Vendor Assessment: Analysis of Major Player’s Strategies, Positioning and Technologies.” This study examines the leading RFID companies and their ability to provide solutions required for Wal-Mart’s RFID mandate.

For more information, visit: http://www.abiresearch.com/category/security.jsp.