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Senior management 'clueless' about RFID

A recent survey by Unisys shows that just under half of board level executives have no idea what RFID is, let alone understand the scope of its implications for their business
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Although vendors and civil libertarians alike have been shouting from the roof tops about RFID, it appears someone forgot to tell a large proportion of the UK's top management.

Just under half of board level executives surveyed -- 43 percent -- said they didn't know what RFID was, while an almost equal number -- 45 percent -- are up to speed on the tracking technology, according to new statistics from Unisys, leaving industry fairly evenly split on whether the tags are a supply chain saviour or the latest victim of tech hype.

However, it seems the technology is gaining ground nonetheless. 33 percent of those surveyed were "actively evaluating the technology", while another 12 per cent were moving even faster and planned to have the chips in place within two years.

Whether C-level personnel are aware of RFID depends on the industry they work in, the figures show, with half of management in the pharmaceutical industry not familiar with the technology in question while 26 percent were evaluating RFID and six percent already had the chips in place in the supply chain.

In the US, where drug counterfeiting is more common, the pharmaceutical industry is leading from the front in driving uptake of RFID.

The US Food and Drug Administration is actively encouraging the use of the track and trace chips to secure the supply chain. It said in a recent report: "Significant feasibility studies and technology improvements are underway to confirm that RFID will provide cost-reducing benefits in areas such as inventory control, while also providing the ability to track and trace the movement of every package of drugs from production to dispensing. Most importantly, reliable RFID technology will make the copying of medications either extremely difficult or unprofitable."

One such feasibility study in the US saw several major drug manufacturers, including Abbott Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Proctor & Gamble, trialling the technology along with pharmacies on 13,500 packages of drugs over eight weeks.

A Pfizer spokesman told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com that the technology still has its limitations. "We don't look at RFID as silver bullet [against counterfeiting]… we see it as an important technology and wanted to be involved," he said.

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