RFID Journal Editor Mark Roberti's Blog

Build the Whole RFID Solution

February 18, 2010

As this blog's readers know, I've had my nose buried in Geoffrey Moore's Inside the Tornado for the past few weeks. Moore's first book, Crossing the Chasm, was a bestseller, and explained how new technologies go from being adopted by a few "technology enthusiasts," to deployment by the masses of companies run by "pragmatists." Inside the Tornado focuses on strategies technology firms should adopt during the pre-adoption, chasm-crossing, mass-adoption and post-adoption phases. These strategies are highly relevant for RFID vendors.

One critical point Moore makes is that technology companies need to build the "whole product," which he defines as "the minimum set of products and services necessary to ensure that the target customer will achieve his or her compelling reason to buy." According to Moore, many businesses prolong their time in the chasm, between early adoption by visionaries and mass adoption by pragmatists, because they are unable or unwilling "to commit to taking any particular whole product all the way through to this level of completion."

This is a common mistake that many technology companies make, not just RFID firms. Committing to a whole RFID product for health care, for instance, is risky—what happens if adoption doesn't take off in that industry? So instead, RFID companies build a product that will do most, but not all, of what health-care companies, manufacturers, retailers and logistics firms want it to do. The result is that very few of these potential customers buy the product. I have heard many end users comment that one RFID product or another "would require too much customization." In other words, they don't see the whole product.

Having the whole product is a requirement on which pragmatists insist—and they don't want the risk of having to help build it. Moore says he came to the "horrifying conclusion" that "the only safe way to cross the chasm is to put all your eggs in one basket." The goal is to establish a foothold in a mainstream market. Once that happens, he says, a business has crossed the chasm.

There are companies in the RFID industry that are already deploying this strategy. AwarePoint, for instance, has a ZigBee-based real-time locating system that can be used in many different industries, but that firm focuses its efforts on the health-care sector. If the strategy works, AwarePoint hopes to attract more hospitals to use its solution, which would provide it with the cash flow it needs to branch out into other markets.

If your company is having problems closing the deal, consider whether the problem might be that you haven't built "the whole product." And if you conclude that this is the issue, search for a niche in which your company can solve a compelling business problem, and in which no other company has already created a whole product, and then establish yourself as the leader in that sector by building it.


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