SAP Plans RFID Roadmap for SMBs

SAP is teaming with Intermec on a new product aimed at easing compliance with the still-controversial Gen 2 RFID standard among small trading partners of large enterprises.

Enterprise resource planning giant SAP AG has begun collaborating with RFID (radio-frequency identification) IP holder Intermec Technologies on new offerings meant to help companies with fewer than 100 employees meet RFID mandates from Wal-Mart, Ford Motor Company, the U.S. Department of Defense and other huge trading partners.

In April, Intermec expects to ship EasyADC (Automatic Data Compliance) for SAP Business One, a hardware and software bundle geared toward collecting bar-code information for use inside both Business One and the enterprise-oriented mySAP Business Suite.

For later this year—probably this summer—the RFID specialist eyes the availability of downloadable software upgrades that will help SMBs (small and midsize businesses) comply with a variety of looming RFID mandates, said Jeff Johnson, who heads up global alliances in Intermecs SMB Practice.

Typically, SMBs lack deep IT resources for addressing these mandates on their own, let alone for moving beyond "slap-and-ship," according to Johnson.

"[An SMB] might only have one person in IT, or maybe two or three. [IT] doesnt have time to investigate RFID, or compare [products]. Yet they have a need to feel like theyre covered [for meeting mandates]. Theyre looking for direction on what to do," he said.

Meanwhile, SAP plans to team with Intermec, APICS, Fourth Shift, American Express Tax and Business Services, and other, still-unnamed partners—including some users—on an "educational roadmap" for SMBs that are being required to adopt RFID.

The roadmap will start to be drawn up at an upcoming "RFID Congress."

Essentially, components will include printed documents, Web-based seminars and "presentations at relevant trade shows," said Dan Kraus, vice president of SAP Business One, also during the interview.

Intermecs Johnson told that the EasyADC upgrades for some small trading partners—including those of Wal-Mart and Target Corp.—will be based on Gen 2 (Generation 2), the recent update to epcGlobals RFID standard.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about Gen 2 providing enhanced security for data stored on tags and in corresponding databases.

"Our eventual plan is to offer compliance updates for different RFID mandates from Intermecs Web site, but we havent at all started to implement that plan," Johnson said.

Yet Gen 2 incorporates patented technology from Intermec for optional use, and Intermecs intentions to charge licensing fees for use of these patents has stirred some controversy in the supply chain, manufacturing and retail communities.

Intermecs Johnson said this week that EasyADCs $24,995 list price will encompass all licensing fees for Intermec patents included in the Gen 2 standard, along with one year of service and maintenance.

Next Page: Early details.