Wal-mart: People are Making too Much of RFID

Judging by the buzz, you would think Wal-mart had whole buildings full of people doing nothing but planning the downfall of entire industries via RFID. That is apparently not the case, as this Information Week piece makes abundantly clear:

InformationWeek: Are people making too much out of RFID?

Dillman: Yes. Our RFID team, until about three months ago, was five people. We almost doubled Simon Langford’s team by adding four people. [Langford is Wal-Mart’s global RFID strategy manager.] To us, it’s a significant expenditure, but the money we will invest installing equipment in the Dallas area fits well within our normal Information Development Services’ capital-expenditure budget. Most of us invest in new technology every year. It’s not the most expensive project by a long shot that we’ve got going in.

There are days when this project drives us absolutely crazy. Today, I was in a very lengthy discussion with someone who says RFID has no business case for manufacturers, even if there is zero cost to the tag. My favorite is the $7 billion in benefits next year that someone speculated Wal-Mart will get out of this project. That’s almost more than our total profit as a company. All this creates noise and confusion. It’s got the attention of legislators.