RFID Might Be On The Way, But Techs Are Not

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. -- The talent pool of individuals skilled in radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is shallow and could impact the successful adoption of the technology, according to the results of a new survey released today by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), a global trade association representing the business interests of the information technology industry.

More than 43 percent of the respondents listed the retail industry as their primary clients/customers. Eighty percent said they do not believe there are sufficient numbers of professionals skilled in RFID to hire from today. Two-thirds of organizations (66.7 percent) said training and educating their employees in the technology is one of the biggest challenges they will face in order to succeed in the RFID market.

"If 60,000 businesses are facing RFID usage mandates from their trading partners by the year 2010, as is estimated, the dearth of qualified RFID integrators has the potential to slow adoption of the technology by many companies, including in the grocery industry," Steven Ostrowski, CompTIA's public relations manager, told Progressive Grocer.

"The industry experts we have spoken with indicate that today there are only between 10 and 100 systems integrators skilled in RFID implementations. We believe the market needs 500-1,000 systems integration companies with RFID capabilities; and hundreds of thousands of individuals knowledgeable in this technology to meet current and future demand of organizations facing RFID compliance mandates from their customers and trading partners."

CompTIA is working with a cross section of major players in the RFID market to address the skills shortage. Product manufacturers, distributors, system integrators, education and training providers, and end-user customers are active in an effort to craft a vendor-neutral professional certification of RFID skills for individuals working with the technology.

The survey of CompTIA members found that customer adoption of RFID solutions is relatively modest. A significant number of companies -- 71.4 percent -- said their customers have not implemented RFID solutions. For those organizations with customers that implemented RFID solutions, responding companies said that fewer than 20 percent of their customers have done so.

Similarly, 80 percent of the responding companies said either they have yet to go past the investigation stage of RFID implementation; or have done no investigation at all. Just 16 percent have implemented one or more RFID pilot projects for themselves or their customers.

Survey respondents said their customers come from a variety of industries, including services, government, manufacturing, retail, health care, communications, and financial services and real estate.

When asked if they see their company offering RFID products and services in the next three years, 37.3 percent of organizations said they definitely will; and 39.2 percent said they would consider it if there is interest from their customers. Companies expect to offer hardware installation and maintenance services (82.1 percent), software implementations (61.5 percent), and other services (51.3).

The majority of respondents to the CompTIA survey were value-added resellers and solutions providers (33.3 percent); consultants and systems integrators (21.6 percent); and manufactures (19.6 percent). Two-thirds of the companies have annual revenues of up to $25 million; while 22 percent are companies with annual revenues of $100 million or more.
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