Earlier this decade, Wal-Mart first required its top 100 suppliers to put radio frequency identification tags on shipping crates and pallets, then extended the mandate to include all suppliers. Thanks to the Wal-Mart mandate, the first wave of serious enterprise RFID deployments are on the books, and the result is a C, maybe a C-, in terms of ROI and maximum utilization of the technology. Many have completed their Wal-Mart compliance requirements so they can continue to do business with the retailing giant. However, few have taken the opportunity to go beyond, into the other areas of their business. Fewer still have incorporated other data sources into their application or produced analytic value with RFID data.

This is not to say that companies outside Wal-Mart mandate have not been adopting RFID. Retailers utilize RFID in their stores to manage temperatures, control theft and shrinkage, influence store design and product placement and even experiment with self-service checkout. Indeed, with billions of tags ordered, there are numerous uses for this tiny technology. These devices track cows, passports, toll tags, credit cards, clothing, concert wristbands, pharmaceutical pedigree, laptops, ski gates, neighborhood gates, shopping carts, pets, robotic companions and humans. From a Wal-Mart perspective, it’s the pallets of goods sent to its distribution centers.

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