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Editorial: It's time to tune in

Editorial: It's time to tune in

There are generally two types of people in the world - those that have to be dragged kicking and screaming because change is being forced upon them, and those that embrace it as an opportunity to better themselves on a personal level or improve the way they work.

This is why your dad can't set the video to record the cricket coverage but your next door neighbour will happily pick up a screwdriver and upgrade the graphics card on his PC. And the rule is just as applicable to the way we conduct business.

Every organisation in the IT channel dedicates a large prop­ortion of its resources to convincing customers to adopt the latest and greatest technologies. But there are some companies out there who are less than keen to introduce change to their own model, sticking to the maxim that 'if it ain't broken, why fix it'.

The latest advance in tech­nology that looks set to illustrate this dichotomy is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). Until now it has been a term most of us are vaguely familiar with because we have heard of it being implemented elsewhere in the world; something potentially cool that might one day change the way a supply chain operates but is still considered a battle for another day.

However, with news breaking this week that an Australian standard is due to be ratified before you can say Happy New Year, it is time for local IT distributors to get on board or get left behind.

While this statement may seem a little drastic at this stage in proceedings, you only have to ask which manufacturers are likely to be the first to want their business partners to take advantage of the smarts and touted cost reductions. Let's consider Heinz, Country Road or Intel, for example. I know where I'd be placing my bets.

Earlier this month, RFID World took place in Sydney. And while no vendor has made any significant noise about offering Electronic Product Code (EPC) products at the moment, notable attendees at the exhibition included distribution powerhouses Tech Pacific and Express Data.

While some companies will wait for RFID to hit them between the eyes, and the failure to adopt it to hit them in the pocket, you can be sure these two will come bursting out of the gate at the earliest opportunity.

After all, in an industry where product margins are so tight, every little bit helps.

On the flipside, RFID will eventually become a sellable technology for the IT channel once it goes through the usual acceptance cycle of trial, error and tweaking.

While Australian figures aren't yet available, IDC has predicted annual US spending on RFID will snowball from $US91.5 million last year to $US1.3 billion in 2008.

But as so many vendors have told us they have done with delight over the years, the industry is going to have to 'eat its own dog food' before it can start to sell it into other markets.

In recent months, ARN has been advising the channel to investigate opportunities in the digital home convergence market. Having said that, we realise it won't be suitable for everybody.

It's now time to put RFID on the shopping list too. This tech­nology is more likely to be a universal - in terms of business process efficiency if not as a product set.

Brian Corrigan is Editor of ARN. Reach him at brian_corrigan@idg.com.au


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