The organisation driving standards to make radio frequency identification (RFID) a widely applied technology has warned dithering companies not to expect a free ride in gaining the benefits of the technology.
Chris Adcock, president of EPCglobal, told the organisation's London conference that those which got the most out of the technology would be the ones putting in the effort to make it work.
"The plug-and-play solution for RFID does not exist," he said. "It is going to require heavy lifting and hard work. There is gold at the end of the rainbow. But don't expect the companies which have done the heavy lifting to expose it all to the global community - there will be no open book on information disclosure. You need to be in the game now to gain the benefits in the future."
Although the push to make RFID an integral part of the supply chain has largely been driven by two retailers, Wal-Mart in the US and Tesco in the UK, the benefits will be seen in other areas too, notably in tackling crime -in particular, counterfeiting.
Adcock said EPC would follow up its Gen 2 protocol, which standardises communications between a tag placed on a goods-carrying pallet or case and a tag reader, by focusing on networking.
"Gen 2 is about how tags and readers talk to each other. There are 12 other areas of standards where EPC is working with the user community. We want 2005 to be the year of the network."
Adcock also promised further efforts to placate criticism that RFID will impinge on privacy.
"There is nothing more important to EPCglobal than privacy. If we don't manage public policy issues like this well, it could be a dealbreaker. But there are other public policy areas we also have to consider, such as the environment, health and safety, employment, and anti-trust."