IT execs prepare for an RFID revolution

Most IT executives have not yet adopted radio frequency identification technology, but they're learning about the technology and how they can use it, according to a study released today.

The online survey of more than 350 IT executives found that mandates from government and major retailers encouraged 46 percent to take the first steps toward adopting RFID, an automatic identification technology embedded in some products to provide information about their movement in the supply chain, thereby reducing logistical challenges and costs. RFID can be used to track a product throughout its lifecycle.

The study was conducted by McLean, Va., systems integrator BearingPoint Inc., the Software & Information Industry Association in Washington and International Data Group's CIO magazine in Framingham, Mass. Executives participating in the survey came from government, retail and wholesale, manufacturing, transportation, technology, financial services and communications.

Almost half of the respondents described RFID as "a revolutionary technology that will have widespread impact," but only 22 percent said they have a high understanding of the technology, and less than half said they have a moderate level of understanding.

But 51 percent expect to deploy RFID projects within two years, the study found. Survey respondents said that within a year they plan to use RFID technology for real-time location systems and asset management. They said that two years from now they will use the technology for smart shelving of goods and mobile commerce.

Survey respondents said the top three business risks of using RFID today are that technical standards are not final, there is a lack of clear business benefits or return on investment, and there is a lack of industrywide adoption.

In addition, 38 percent of respondents said they are waiting for industry or government guidance to help them address customer privacy issues and therefore are delaying customer-facing activities.

The online survey was conducted April 5 through April 22. The margin of error is plus or minus 5 percent.

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