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Despite being heavily promoted as the next big technology in supply chain and retail, investment in RFID will actually drop next year as companies pause to re-evaluate the true potential of the technology, the analyst firm said.
Retailers such as Tesco, Wal-Mart and Metro Group have been leading the charge on RFID, but many firms are hanging back and waiting for issues such as technology standards and the type of signals used to be resolved, Meta said.
Wal-Mart, which wants its top 100 suppliers to RFID tag all incoming goods by 2005, last month admitted that its first target - for suppliers of tightly controlled prescription drugs - had been missed.
Despite teething problems, the technology - which allows goods to be electronically tracked along the supply chain - still has promise in the long term, said Will Cappelli, an analyst at Meta.
"Although the current dampening of expectations surrounding RFID is a natural reaction to the almost hysterical enthusiasm that characterised discussions of this technology during the first half of 2003, organisations should still prepare for RFID's pervasiveness in the longer term," he said.
"By 2008, we anticipate that approximately 30% of manufactured capital goods will be RFID-enabled, with that percentage growing to 80% by 2013."
Separate research from the Yankee Group was equally confident about the long-term prospects for RFID, predicting that £2.35bn will be spent on the technology by 2008.
The analyst firm outlined an RFID roadmap for companies, beginning with cleaning and then synchronising the data.
Second, Yankee said, companies should define their network supply management technology roadmap, including a migration plan for RFID deployment.
Finally, from 2005 to 2008, companies should begin implementing their roadmap and be building collaborative planning capabilities to make the analysis and decision-making process about RFID clearer.
Support centre for RFID launched
A network of support services to promote the widespread development of RFID will be launched by UK supply chain standards group e.centre in London on 28 April.
The support framework, known as the EPCglobal Gateway, will give suppliers and retailers access to training to enable them to influence upcoming standards for RFID.
As well as training, e.centre will also send regular e-bulletins updating members on the latest developments in the technology.