Enterprise Investing in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): The Oracle Case

Enterprise Investing in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): The Oracle Case

Stephen J. Andriole (Villanova University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-018-9.ch007
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Abstract

This is a case of enterprise investing in a specific technology—Radio frequency identification (RFID)—in an effort to add another technology-based service to, in this case, Oracle Corporation’s, repertoire of products and services. Oracle USA is one of the top software companies in the world today, with over 50,000 employees, $14 billion in revenues, and 150,000 customers. Oracle USA spends over $1 billion a year in research and development (R&D). Deciding upon a technological course requires a substantial investment in market research to ensure that R&D funding leads to products whose marketability goes from intuition to fruition. One of Oracle’s latest investments has been in the area commonly referred to as sensor-based computing (SBC) centered around a technology known as Radio Frequency Identification, or “RFID.”
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Introduction To The Case1

This is a case of enterprise investing in a specific technology—Radio frequency identification (RFID)—in an effort to add another technology-based service to, in this case, Oracle Corporation’s, repertoire of products and services.

Oracle USA is one of the top software companies in the world today, with over 50,000 employees, $14 billion in revenues, and 150,000 customers. Oracle USA spends over $1 billion a year in research and development (R&D). Deciding upon a technological course requires a substantial investment in market research to ensure that R&D funding leads to products whose marketability goes from intuition to fruition. One of Oracle’s latest investments has been in the area commonly referred to as sensor-based computing (SBC) centered around a technology known as Radio Frequency Identification, or “RFID.”

RFID stands for radio frequency identification and is an automated data collection technology that enables equipment to read tags without contact or line of sight. RFID uses radio frequency (RF) waves to transfer data between a reader and an item in order to identify, track, or locate that item. A typical RFID system is made up of three hardware components:

  • An antenna

  • RFID tags (transponders) that are electronically programmed with unique information

  • An RF module with a decoder (transceiver)

According to the Gartner Group (a technology industry research and consulting organization; see www.gartner.com), RFID may become the major technology enabler for the transportation sector in the next decade.2 They go on to say that it would be dangerous for technology vendors to sit behind the adoption curve as RFID takes off, probably between 2007 and 2009.

RFID will unfold in waves throughout state and local government, according to the market research firm Input Inc., of Reston, Virginia. The first wave might involve commercial trucking, the second wave might target borders and ports, and the third wave might address traffic management. As the demand for RFID grows, state and local governments will use federal funding for transportation and homeland security to help them implement RFID projects and initiatives.

State and local customers now are more receptive to RFID, because they view it as part of the larger wave of wireless technology projects sweeping the government market. ACS, Inc., for example, has a firm grip on RFID for revenue collection and regulatory compliance in the transportation sector. Nine states now use the company’s EZPass electronic toll program, and 24 states use its PrePass program to weigh and monitor the credentials of trucks crossing state lines. RFID could be deployed more broadly not only as an integral part of intelligent transportation initiatives, but also for better transportation security; RFID could be used for real-time tracking of commuters’ patterns as part of managing traffic congestion, or it could be used to track hazardous materials on interstate highways.

Unisys is trying to expand its work with major ports in the wake of its participation in the Homeland Security Department’s Operation Safe Commerce pilot. The company has an RFID project with the Port of Seattle and is hoping to expand the solution to other ports in the region. Unisys also is pursuing a pilot project with the Texas Animal Health Commission that could serve as a national model for identifying and tracking livestock. The National Animal Identification System is a federally funded project that, if rolled out nationally, would let states track livestock through various marketing venues. Using RFID tags and readers, it also would compile data that could be used in the event of disease outbreaks and other health issues.

RFID tags are classified as either active or passive, each with its own characteristics, as Figure 1 suggests.

Figure 1.

Types of RFID tags

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