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Bp Case Study

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EMBA Theme III--Corporate IT Management

Assignment 3: None of Our Business, Roberta A. Fusaro,

a 2004 HBR Case Study

I. RFID Definition

Radio Frequency Identification - RFID - is an established data-carrying technology used throughout industry. Data relating to an item is stored on a tag, which is attached to the item. The tag is activated by radio waves emitted from a reader. Once activated, the tag sends data stored in its memory relating to the item back to the reader. This data can then be shared between organizations and trading partners via the EPCglobal Network in a secure manner.

And as defined in the WIKIPEDIA "is an automatic identification method, relying on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders. An RFID tag is an object that can be attached to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification using radio waves. Chip-based RFID tags contain silicon chips and antennas. Passive tags require no internal power source, whereas active tags require a power source"

Radio Frequency Identification finds its roots back in the first decades of 1900s. There are 2 types of RFID : passive (with no internal passive supply) and active (with own power supply, powering its own circuits).

RFID systems have three main components:

The RFID tag with its own data, functions and physical characteristics

The RFID reader (static or portable) with its own functions and physical characteristics

The host with its own hardware, functions and predefined tasks

ref: GS1 UK

II. Positive usage

1.Control on goods: supermarkets and shops but also luggages

May be one of the most widespread usage at wal-mart, Tesco, Metro, etc... Companies like Wal-Mart even influencing/imposing the adoption of this technology to their partners for better supply chain tracking!

Also usefully used for tracking luggages during travels and transportations.

2 Better inventory control

RFID permits to get an accurate knowledge by eliminating discrepancies between inventory record and physical inventory and reduces the sources of errors. Benefits residing mainly in the reduction of labor costs and inventory inaccuracies as well as the simplification of business processes.

3 Automatization of supply chain?

Product tracking, first started in Canada in replacing of bar coding. It is used in pallets tracking, bookstores, building access control,...

4 Enhanced control and audit trail

From recording important critical data (as in pharmaceuticals) and making it available when needed, to ensuring audit trails in order to trail back sources of products.

5 Statistics and follow-ups made easy

As a consequence of having the little spies concentrating the information, gathering data and making it readable are making follow-ups & statistics available and easy, for better control and further optimizations.

6 Passports

Even though the first usage goes back to late 1990 in Malaysia, RFID incorporation in passports was intensively spread in 2006 after the US & UK adoption starting 2005..

7 Transports Payments

Heavily implemented in public transportation across Europe and now as well in Canada, Mexico, Brazil & Asia.

8 Automotive & Animal implants

The first in key tagging for cars security and the second to ensure a quick follow-up on needed data.

III. Questionable usage and on-going controversery

1. Privacy made public issues It is the full valid question! how far each of us wants/allows his private life to be public?

Do we really want our age, preferences, addresses are known without us having control on that?

Do we really want our future, our habits to be manipulated by people who need to sell us something? To govern our lives?

If no restraint is put on that we surely run the risk to have abuses mainly towards youngster and teen-agers that didn't yet have time to learn how to handle their lives, needs and capacities.

2. Abuse through insisting sales/marketing campaigns Customers information sold to different commercial companies is not a new subject. Before the RFID era, telecommunications companies used to sell their files containing customers data to other companies that used to sell door to door (or phone to phone) to those customers proposing goods (kitchens, house furniture, policy insurance, etc...). Other companies use also to sell their highly selective customers lists to other companies that were seeking for knowledge: who is the CEO, the CIO, the HR director, what is their tel no, etc ....

With the event of RFID gathering data is becoming more a more easily achieved and widely spread. People are becoming easier targets for driven sales campaigns pushing them to consume more, spend more, getting in debt more etc...

3 Security

Hacking the chips seems to be still rather easy, mailing the usage of RFID on too sensitive information either personal or state wide, highly risky.

There are even viruses for RFID chips!.

4 From Patient Identification to Human Implantation

RFID usage for patient identification is growing steadily! In many countries like US & France, relevant information is captured and made available for a quick knowledge/reading of patient's medical and personal data.

Going to human implant: one of the likely positive idea is often discussed about being able to track kidnapped children and increase

...

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