Despite warnings of a shake-up in the RFID industry that will result in vendor consolidations, software developers continue to emerge with products that improve the way RFID data can be processed and used.
TrueDemand Software Inc., a Los Gatos, Calif., company thats been in stealth mode for the past year, launches this week with an application suite that uses supply chain planning and radio-frequency identification data to provide predictive analysis.
In addition, TIBCO Software Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., last week unveiled RFID Interchange, an infrastructure that transforms and routes RFID data to back-end applications and then provides context about that data.
RFID Interchange incorporates event data gleaned from edge devices—such as RFID printers and readers—into business processes and gives users relevant information about the data. Taking the supply chain approach, where RFID has been applied most frequently to date, RFID Interchange supports EPCglobal Inc.s ALE (Application Level Events) specification, enabling interoperability with Electronic Product Code-compliant applications.
TrueDemand is also taking the supply chain approach. Its suite of as-yet-unnamed applications, due at years end, will combine new EPC data with transactional data to better predict supply-and-demand needs. The suite will provide a single environment for integrated inventory, planning and execution, according to Eric Peters, TrueDemands CEO.
"Weve put together a science team that is building next-generation algorithms on how to take event data to really model and take advantage of supply chain data," Peters said. "This is supply chain data that uses RFID data, so were rewriting algorithms to do very short-term forecasts and predict the next order or out-of-stocks."
Terry Tutt, director of technology services at TNT Logistics North America, said he believes these predictive capabilities are where the future of RFID lies.
"The true power of RFID is where you can reuse the same tags at multiple stages of the supply chain and take advantage of the information that is already there," said Tutt in Jacksonville, Fla. "The key is to develop standards and the capability of the applications to consume this information and make sense of it [to] add value to the individual processes that occur at any point in the supply chain."
Now implementing TIBCOs RFID Interchange infrastructure, Tutt said he chose that system because it gives him event-driven RFID integration—internally and out to partners—as well as the potential to provide analytics around RFID data.
TNT might be ahead of the curve when it comes to RFID success. A report released in June by Boston-based AMR Research Inc. suggests many companies are still struggling to find a business case for RFID. Of the 500 companies surveyed, 69 percent plan to evaluate or implement RFID this year, although a third of those are driven by mandates.
The key factor driving those expenditures remains partner mandates. Only 8 percent of the companies surveyed have an actual RFID implementation, and 28 percent said a return on investment is still their biggest obstacle to RFID adoption.