Being able to identify and track packages, pallets or inventory near real time has become the life blood of many companies. With so much attention being paid to whether or not inventory has arrived on time or where it is in transit, the RFID market is ready for VARs to make a serious play. By providing services to help vertical markets like pharmaceutical or manufacturing streamline their operations, VARs and systems integrators have an opportunity to create a reoccurring revenue stream.
Building the case for RFID
"Bringing RFID to the manufacturing world is a pretty big market opportunity all by itself," said Steve Duplessie, found and senior analyst for the Enterprise Strategy group. "Showing the market how to best implement this technology gives VARs a great opportunity."
RFID technology is still relatively new to most markets, which allows VARs to position themselves as educators for customers to rely on when creating and managing their systems.
"The benefit of an RFID solution in a manufacturing environment is clear," said Ann Breidenback, director of sensors and actuators, management and business strategy, IBM Software Group. "RFID allows a manufacturer to dynamically update inventory. Manufacturing companies can keep track of where a production item is on the line, you can track the changes. And you can do all of that with real data – not data from a report."
This real-time tracking ability will save companies time, increase productivity and ultimately result in saving money.
The VAR opportunity
The opportunity for VARs and integrators who are in the RFID market may be larger than they think, said Duplessie.
"No technology just plugs in and works when it's new – there will always be problems and RFID will be no different," said Duplessie.
The role, at least initially, for the reseller is to help a customer determine what is the business need for RFID and how to make it an actuality.
"The first thing a customer needs to do is analyze what their business problem is, what they'll gain by fixing it and then figuring out what the first steps are. The goal is to use RFID where there will be the most return," said Breidenback.
Working with systems integrators on the project, VARs can fill the trusted adviser role. By learning the technology as well as possible and understanding the goal of the client, resellers can help build the business case for the technology while simultaneously working to create a sales package that includes support and implementation.
"Like any technology, VARs have to master the technology they sell and support, but communicating the business drivers to the client will really get them on board," said Duplessie.
By building the relationship out from a business perspective first, VARs and their customers will pick the right project and ensure its success for each party.
"Some customers will pick the tag and the reader and say 'now I'm ready.' But that's not the optimum way to go. Clients should pick the project first and then discuss the physical infrastructure. Not all tags are meant for every use. Some readers work better in different locations than others. Start with business analysis," said Breidenback.