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1

Too Much Data, Too Little Information:

The Challenges of RFID Implementation


Brady, Mairead, Fellenz, Martin and Armstrong, Corrie

School of Business, Trinity College, College Green Dublin 2, Ireland



All Correspondence to:
Mairead.Brady@tcd.ie


British Academy of Management 2007


This paper reports on findings from an exploratory study on the readiness of retailers
for Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID), an innovative data
-
capture
technology with

the potential to substantially impact on national and international
business. The paper discusses reasons for the findings which indicate a substantial gap
between the potential of the technology and companies’ preparedness for its use. The
management and

marketing implications of RFID are discussed and suggestions for
further research into the implementation challenges of this and similar
transformational technologies are posited.


Introduction

In the current strategic environment of data junkyards and i
nformation goldmines
(Kannan et al, 1998), success depends on firms’ ability to transform
data

into
information

and ultimately into usable
knowledge
. Glazer (1991:2) argues that
winning companies are those that first install IT and then go “
beyond the tech
nology
to view the ‘management of information’ itself as an asset to gain competitive
advantage
”. Indeed, Marchand et al. (2000:70) contend that “
companies must do more
than excel at investing in and deploying IT. They must combine those capabilities with
excellence in collecting, organising and maintaining information and with getting
their people to embrace the right behaviours and values for working with
information
”. The challenge of information management is exacerbated by the sheer
amount of data avai
lable from more advanced and in turn more complex information
-
generating data capture technologies such as RFID. Srivastava (2004:67) posits that

with RFID technology generating a tremendous amount of data on a continuous
basis, there is a clear need to d
evelop application software capable of fully exploiting
it
”. But the challenge does not stop with technological solutions: firms adopting such

2

transformational technologies need to also adapt their internal structures and
processes as well as their strateg
ic propositions and customer interactions.


Data from a set of case studies indicate a marked lack of readiness of retail firms to
adopt novel ICTs that may have such transformational potential for their business.
The evident lack of preparedness on the pa
rt of organisations to adopt RFID, and the
dearth of literature that could provide guidance on managing the challenges and
opportunities of the technology, RFID remains both overlooked and underexploited.
In practice companies are struggling to fully util
ise their current ICTs, and lack both
appetite and ability to move further into more ICT assimilation.


This paper will begin by posing several fundamental questions such as



What is information, as opposed to data?



Are companies able to properly gather,
analyse and handle the information they
currently collect?



How familiar are they with their current ITs and do they use them to their
maximum potential?



Will companies cope with the abundance of information created by advanced
technologies such as RFID?


In order to improve the management of information, companies must ensure that there
is a strategic fit between the implementation of ICTs and a customer focus. This
behoves both the technologist and the marketers to work closely together for
maximum retur
n to the business but with a customer imperative.


From data to useful knowledge: Gathering, Analysing and Handling Information

A common misconceptions in business today is the assumption that data equals
intelligence. However, data is effectively worthle
ss unless it is utilised properly, and
to its full potential (Myburg, 2000): “[O]
nly when information is combined with
context and experience,[does] it becomes knowledge
” (2000:2) Similarly Glazer
(1991:2) contends that “
information can be defined as data
that have been organised
or given structure
-

that is placed in context
-

and thus endowed with meaning
”. After
all, as Sisodia (1995:2) argues, “
knowledge represents the currency, as well as the

3

scorecard, of the information age. Only companies with deep kn
owledge about their
customers, competitors and operations will be winners in this age
”.


Another common mistaken idea is that
more

information means
better

information.
As McGovern (2000) points out, in an age of extreme information
-
overload
companies mus
t not be blinded by the sheer colossus of available data. The notion
that more data means more accurate information is empirically unsustainable. Glazer
(1991) suggests that information has potential value for firms at three different points:
Downstream

in
formation can be gained from the data collected between the firm and
its consumers. It typically arises from efforts by the marketing department and other
boundary spanners, and its value depends on how well they manage and utilise data.
Upstream informati
on is processed between the firm and its suppliers, while
information
within

the firm is used to co
-
ordinate internal operations. The value firms
can generate from such data depends on the firms relevant information processing and
handling capabilities, wh
ich can be independent from their data gathering activities.


Marketing as an ‘information
-
handling problem’

The m
arketing function plays a central role in managing the transformation of data
into information and the utilisation of the value of this inform
ation. Conceptualising
marketing as essentially an ‘information
-
handling problem’ is not new. Indeed Piercy
contended in 1981 that “
good information is a facilitator of successful marketing
action and indeed, seen in this light marketing management becomes

first and
foremost an information processing activity
” (Pg.1). In the seminal article ‘The
Metamorphosis of Marketing into an Information
-
Handling Problem’, Holland and
Naude (2004) claim that “
the marketing task has moved beyond being transaction
-

or
rel
ationship
-
driven
”, and one now shaped by the handling of information (Pg.167).
They suggest that when marketing is seen in this light, it is easier to understand how
ICT can support more effective marketing strategies. It could be argued that
information
-
h
andling is for the digital age, what physical resources were for the
industrial age; in essence modern marketing’s foundation is built on the power of
information. They suggest that there are three eras of marketing progressing from
transactional, to relat
ional, to information
-
driven (See Figure 1).




4

Figure 1: Three theoretical eras of marketing



Source: Holland and Naude, 2004


5

As Figure 1 shows, marketing tasks have gradually developed from the economical
focus of transaction marketing, to a relationshi
p focus based on psychology, sociology
and mathematical network modelling, to finally an information focus involving
database theory and information science. Whereas transaction and relationship
marketing tasks were characterised by classical people
-
based
organisational structure,
information marketing is in fact strongly driven by ICT abilities, which are supported
by people.


It must be noted that the extended focus on information not only affects the marketing
department, but the entire business system.

Holland and Naude (2004) this is the “
era
where marketing tasks are best analysed as information handling problems and the
analysis and communication of information takes place in advanced, networked
computerised business systems”

(2004:175). Brady (2002
) concurs and suggests that
IT is so important and integral to marketing that we should change the spelling to
‘markITing’. Kotler (2001), the father of marketing and the major proponent of
traditional tansactional marketing, also contends that marketing i
s increasingly based
more on information power than sales power.


Information Technology as a Substitute for Decision Making

Andal
-
Ancion et al. (2003:34) contend that “
new technologies…have well
-
known but
often unrealised potential to transform businesse
s and industries
”. In their empirical
study of twenty North
-
American and European companies, they found that one of the
major driving factors behind the digital transformation of traditional businesses was
information intensity. Glazer (1991) considers th
e level of ‘information intensity’
between companies, i.e. the level of profits attributable to information assets.
Information intensity is directly related to the information
-
handling ability of the firm,
but many marketers still struggle with both the q
uantity and content of the
information they are faced with. Bessen (2003) argues that ICTs can “
cut through the
confusion and sort the most relevant data from the daily flood,…as despite the
obstacles, few marketers dispute the need to coordinate and integ
rate information

(Pg.150), and Zaltman (2003) contends that advanced ICTs such as RFID are one sure
way of achieving such deeper knowledge. Yet while ICTs can provide such solutions,
their value is only realised if they are deployed and used successfully.



6

There has been some scepticism over the ability of technology to suitably decipher
information. Rayport and Jaworski (2004:6) note that
“where humans excel in
judgement, pattern recognition, exception processing, insight and creativity, machines
excel in

collecting, storing, transmitting and routine processing”
.

Piercy (1981) also
argued that “
there is a danger that in applying new technology, the conformity and
uniformity of systems established will not merely fail to increase marketing decision
making e
ffectiveness, but will detract from that effectiveness by blocking the use of
experience, intuition and creativity in handling information
” (Pg.4).


Despite the widespread availability of automated decision technologies such as
workflow applications, sta
tistical and numerical algorithms, and rule engines,
marketers along with many other organisational decision makers have been reluctant
to substitute such ICTs for their decision
-
making. For decades predictions painted a
picture in which some day computers

would relieve managers and professionals from
the need to make decisions on their own or even altogether (see Davenport, 2001).
But many early artificial intelligence applications which were designed to relieve
managers of the need to make decisions were
in fact “just solutions looking for
problems” (Davenport, 2005:83). He concedes that “in the business sector, even
when expert systems were directed at real issues, extracting the right kind of
specialised knowledge from seasoned decision makers and maint
aining it over time
proved to be more difficult than anticipated” (2005:83).


In his article ‘Diamonds in the Data Mine’, Loveman (2003) outlines how marketers
should be gathering customer information, developing appropriate marketing
strategies and iden
tifying core customers. He contends that traditional mass marketing
and the ‘if you build it they will come’ mentality must be replaced with a more
deliberate and customised approach to using sophisticated ICT to deeply mine an
accurate customer database.
What is increasingly in question is whether marketers
have the skill or ability of marketers to drive ICT use in marketing (Brady and
O’Connor, 2006).


There is apprehension among marketers as to how effective ICT can be in handling
information. Consumers

are becoming ever more complex in their consumption
behaviour, and it will need more advanced technologies such as RFID to both capture

7

and make available real
-
time information. Davenport (2005) agrees with this
contention, arguing that “new interest in a
utomated decision
-
making systems is being
fed not only by changes in technology but also by evolving business needs”. As
Friend and Walker (2001:11) posit, “
given the industry’s myriad challenges, the time
is right for a technology that brings control to w
hat was risky, rigor to what was
intuitive, and science to what was guesswork
”. This contention is supported by Brady
(2004:2) who claims that, “
marketing will no longer rely on intuition and guesswork
but on solid analytical support of IT systems monitori
ng every stage of the
product/service delivery through to consumption
”.



The Challenge of legacy system: Can they use what they already have?

While O’Brien (1995) warns of the common problem of “
too much information of the
wrong kind, in the wrong place
at the wrong time and not enough information of the
right kind, in the right place, at the right time
” (Pg.17), it could be argued that ICTs
are one plausible solution to sifting out the junk from the gems. In the article ‘Don’t
Get Buried in Customer Data
-

Use It’, Ayers (2003) contends that “
marketers need a
good, thoughtful architecture to base their decisions on
”, which can be aided by the
meticulous gathering of customer information and more importantly, the use of
relevant information in marketing ope
rations. Although many companies’ current
marketing systems do allow for a good understanding of who the customer is and
what they think of the company, this data simply no longer suffices. Zaltman (2003:4)
urges that current practices such as CRM do not t
ell the marketer anything about “
why
customers do what they do, think what they think, and why they like or don’t like
products
”.
“Getting that level of insight requires more intensive interactions with
customers. It requires that you develop a poetic insi
ght into customers
-

a deep
knowledge that enables you to intuit their answers to questions you haven’t even
asked them”.


In a study of twenty eight small and medium
-
sized organisations, Levy et al.
(2001:134) found that
“firms with more sophisticated info
rmation systems tend to
perform worse than those with more limited systems. This is primarily due to [the
company’s] limited IS knowledge and skills, thereby precluding them from taking
advantage of the strategic information available from the more sophis
ticated systems
in which they have invested”
.


8


As an exemplar of an excellent but simple information system the Spanish
multinational Inditex’s (
Zara) uses a system which in the words of their
CEO Jose
Maria Castellano; “
Link(s) customer demand to manufa
cturing, and link(s)
manufacturing to distribution. That is the idea we still live by
”. By collecting and
responding to information in a very efficient manner, Zara is able to deliver products
to the store just two days after an order has been placed. Za
ra’s ever
-
increasing
success points to simple and useable information system as optimum; something that
many organisations struggle with. This challenge for companies with other ICT like
CRM is that
‘CRM performance lies in the organisation's ability to l
everage and
exploit its knowledge toward innovating new products and service that benefit its
customers …Organisation wide information sharing … innovate and creative
thoughts of its people’
(Chen and Ching, 2004:3). The real challenge is the
absorptive
cap
acity


cumulative learning and transfer of knowledge which is needed to use and
exploit systems. In the case of many ICTs this has not been successful and the results
have been disappointing (Reichheld and Schefter, 2000;
Payne 2001;

Wilson et al.,
2000).

To develop this point further the problem is not only what is traditionally
called “absorptive capacity”, which related to the organisation’s ability to take in
information from the outside (e.g., adoption of a new technology like RFID), but also
“interna
l absorptive capacity”, or the ability to transmit, transfer, and constructively
transform information between and among internal stakeholders.


Where to from here? A Customer
-
Centric Perspective of Marketers’ Use of
Information

It cannot be overemphasis
ed that in order to collect and implement valuable
information, companies must be customer
-
centric. As Loveman (2003:32) points out,
“deep

data mining and decision
-
science marketing would be worth little in driving
growth were it not for another simultaneo
usly applied and extremely critical
ingredient
-

an absolute focus on [the] customer
”. In the last decade few if any
technologies have been introduced with a dominant customer focus, and indeed the
high level of IT failures attest to the failure of the tec
hnological determinist model
rather than the customer focus model. It is a unique challenge for companies,
technologists and marketers to focus on the customer
-
level data and the skills that are
required for that type of input in comparison to the more op
erational efficiencies

9

(Fellenz and Brady, 2006) . Davenport and Harris (2001:64) contend that “
even the
most successful firms seem unsure about how
-

or even whether


to integrate data
types into a comprehensive customer database”
. Loveman (2003) contend
s that it is
only by keeping the customer as the central focus, that the real diamonds in the data
will be found. By identifying core customers and then ‘slicing and dicing’ the correct
data, companies should be able to coordinate the information they have
, into
knowledge.



Writing in ‘The Quest for Customer Focus’ in the Harvard Business Review, Gulati
and Oldroyd (2005) outline the four major steps involved in the ‘customer focus
journey’ and the role that information plays, namely; communal coordinatio
n, serial
coordination, symbiotic coordination and integral coordination . Stage 1 involves the
collation of information about the customer involving the communal coordination
between the sources of information and a neutral information owner. In Stage 2
a
nalytic experts and ITs are used to study the consumer’s past transactions to gain
insight into the consumer’s wants and needs. Known as serial coordination, the
neutral information collectors work with analytics and technologies. In Stage 3 the
focus is
not on past transactions, but rather on developing an understanding of future
purchases, by implementing information throughout the organisation, known as
symbiotic coordination. As Gulati and Oldroyd (2005) point out, “
getting close to
customers is not so

much a problem the IT or marketing department needs to solve as
a journey the whole organisation needs to make”

(Pg.4). Lastly, at Stage 4 integral
coordination occurs where real
-
time responses to customer needs are made possible
by coordinating all info
rmation among employees and the entire organisation at
corporate level.


According to Fellenz and Brady, (2006) a customer centric ICT deployment model that
is more fully aligned with the service logic is needed. They suggest that technologist,
marketers

and business managers must unite towards a customer centric focus.
Recognising the challenge of integrating these three orientations is only the first step
towards a more customer
-
centric deployment of ICT. A second step is to recognise and
address the ch
allenge of enabling marketers to successfully fill the arbitration role and
coordinate the three different perspectives outlined below. There are a number of
aspects to this, including the difficulty of equipping marketers with the relevant skill
-

10

set, and
the challenge of enabling them through appropriate organisational
arrangements.

1)

Technologists’ Perspective:

Technologist drive towards what is
technologically possible

2)

Economic Perspective
: Managers’ drive towards what is profitable

3)

Marketing/Customer Cen
tric Perspective;

Marketers drive towards
maximising the value for the customer and the company.


In fact, the challenge for the most appropriate deployment of ICT must be integrated into
a holistic understanding of at least three fundamentally different
orientations.
Specifically, the technologists’ drive to apply cutting edge knowledge, to push the
boundaries of what is technologically possible, must be checked both by the business
logic that requires short
-
term profitability and longer term economic via
bility and
sustainability. This must be aligned to the marketing logic that places customer needs and
customer value at the heart of matters. These three different orientations all require
attention, but none can on its own deliver the full value required
. Thus, the three sets of
objectives require an arbitrator that can integrate technological potential with customer
requirements to maximise the business value of the firm’s market offerings. Fellenz and
Brady (2006) believe that marketers are uniquely p
laced to fill this important role (see
Figure 3 below).

Figure 3 Deploying ICT within the Service Logic


Marketing

Perspective

Technologist
Perspective

Economic

Perspective


11


The three sets of objectives require marketers to act as arbitrators that (a) can
understand the individual perspectives
and can constructively relate to the respective
sets of specialists; (b) can integrate technological potential with customer and
marketing requirements to maximise the business value of the firm’s market offerings;
and (c) can achieve both strong and susta
inable relationships with customers that help
differentiation, add value and provide a conduit that integrates customers directly into
marketing. The tripartite view proposed places the joint maximisation of the value to
the customer and the value to the c
ompany at the centre of the marketers’ task, which
must guide the deployment of ICT. Technology cannot be the tail that wags the dog
(Fellenz and Brady, 2006).


The Case of RFID

RFID is the generic name for auto
-
identification technology that uses radio w
aves to
identify objects. “
RFID tags have both a microchip and an antenna. The microchip is
used to store object information such as a unique serial number. The antenna enables
the microchip to transmit object information onto the RFID tag, which transform
s the
information into a format understandable by computers
” (Angeles, 2005:52). RFID
is considered a significant improvement on existing barcode capabilities, as tags do
not need to be ‘seen’ and can be read remotely, with a much higher information
amoun
t that can be stored and transmitted. RFID tags are also read in real
-
time,
allowing the information gathered to be extremely accurate. Barcodes inhibited “‘
any
where, any time’ access to data and applications, and prevented human agents within
an organisa
tion from responding in real time to supply chain events”
(White et al,
2005:1) RFID mitigates these structural deficiencies. Indeed White et al (2005:2)
contend that “
no longer are assets such as plasma televisions, pallets or shipping
containers ‘dumb’,
unable to understand who they are or where they are, and lacking
the ability to communicate this information to a third party. Instead when they pass
into (for example) a retail store or distribution centre, they can communicate their
identity and history…
to the systems into which the readers are integrated
”.


However, with any new technology application comes a price; namely excess
information. Bearing in mind that many companies struggle with the current level of

12

data that they possess (Armstrong et al,

2006). It is likely that any additional
information produced by advanced technologies will be met with considerable
apprehension and confusion. In the case of RFID, Levinson (2003) points out,
“RFID
technology is going to generate
mountains of data

about

the location of pallets, cases
and cartons. It is going to produce
oceans of information

about when and where
merchandise is manufactured, picked, packed and shipped. It is going to
create rivers
of numbers
,…which will have to be stored, transmitted in re
al
-
time and shared with
warehouse management and others”
(2003:1). Twist (2005:238) urges that when it is
used properly,
“the value proposition will make RFID a must for firms to remain
competitive”.
After all as Frohlich (2002) simply states, RFID allows

real
-
time
information to travel immediately backwards so that inventory flows swiftly
forwards”.
These optimistic expectations recognise the immense data capture and
gathering abilities of current RFID solutions, but fail to fully appreciate the
difficult
ies of exploiting this data for constructive and responsive business activities.



A historical review of RFID as an Information
-
Handling Technology

Acceptance and in turn adoption of RFID as an information
-
handling tool has
occurred on a varied level over

the last ten years. As Figure 2 shows, the actual
benefits and hype of RFID adoption have traditionally existed on diverging paths.
Quite often, as with most new technologies a lot of hype surrounds the product, which
either succeeds if implemented prope
rly, or fails as is the case with a lot of new
wonder technologies.


13

Figure 2; Comparing Nolan’s Stage Theory with the Hype and Reality of RFID


We can assume that RFID adoption will follow Nolan’s stage theory of IT
assimilati
on. As ICT assimilation has developed from automation, to information, and
finally to transformation, technologies have become increasingly competent at
carrying out more complex tasks. In the transformation era, which it could be argued
we are experiencin
g with network technologies, there has been limited focus on
RFID. The initial trigger of RFID occurred around 2000 when several IT vendors
such as IBM and Cisco carried out empirical studies into how RFID could aid
operations in the pharmaceutical and IT
sector. A peak of inflated expectations
followed due to many organisations believing that adoption would be relatively easy,
not realising that business objectives and company capabilities must be synchronised
in order to fully exploit the technology. As
with many new technologies, a trough of
disillusionment surrounded RFID due to reasons such as failure rates, the expense of
tages and readers and the general lack of academic literature. However at the end of
2005 many major companies such as Wal Mart, Me
tro, Carrefour and Gillette carried
out trial runs and implemented RFID, realising operational and informational benefits
of a supply chain that was supported by real
-
time information. If there are increasing
1980


2000

TIME

ORGANISATIONAL

LEARNING

AUTOMATION

Data Processing Era

INFORMATION

Micro Processing Era

TRANSFORMA
TION

Network Era

1960

2020

2006

1.

TECHNOLOGY TRIGGER

2.

PEAK OF INFLATED EXPECTATIONS

3.

TROUGH OF DISILLUSIONMENT

4.

SLOPE OF ENLIGHTENMENT

5.

PLATEAU OF PRODUCTIVITY

BENEFITS HYPE

BUSINESS BENEFITS

1

2

3

4

5

Adapted from Nolan (1973
) and White (2005)


14

success stories from companies, along with the
heightened level of academic
attention, the result could be the slope of enlightenment leading to a current plateau of
productivity.


While Angeles (2005:51) contends that “
RFID hold the promise of closing the
information gaps in the supply chain
”, Keen a
nd Mackintosh (2001) go further to say
that RFID technologies introduce ‘
process freedoms’
; “
that is, the ability to add value
along the entire supply chain….and business relationships
” by enabling the mobility
of information, people and business activitie
s. In short, information allows complete
transparency along the supply chain
-

the crucial path leading from marketing to the
customer. Twist (2005) argues that while the Internet simply connected computers to
computers, advanced technologies such as RFID h
ave the informational capabilities to
connect computers with people. The editor of RFID Journal, Roberti proposes that

RFID will be bigger than the internet
”, which will “
lead to an entirely new
relationship between people and things
” (
www.rfidjournal.com
). This notion of
object
-
to
-
object communications is supported by Auto
-
ID research carried out at
MIT, which contends that an ‘
internet of things’

will result when information from
remote technologies such as RFI
D interact with other smart technologies.


Methodology

To investigate the preparedness of marketers to deploy an advanced ICT such as
RFID we conducted a small number of case studies using self
-
administered online
surveys and face
-
to
-
face interviews as t
he main data collection methods. We included
four
companies from the retail industry whose identities will remain anonymous
(companies A, B, C and D).
In order to optimise the validity and reliability of the
study, we sought to study a variety of differen
t companies within the retail sector,
including fashion and FMCG. By using three highly successful multinational
companies, we attempted to uncover the various complex interplays which would
exist between head office and branches.

Two main questions guided

our investigation: (1) “To what degree do marketers in
these retail companies use and understand ICT?” and (2) “How ready are marketers in
these retail companies to adopt innovative ICT such as RFID?” We collected data on
ICT use, data collection and mana
gement techniques, organisational arrangements
linked to customer information management and ICT use in marketing, along with

15

skills and capabilities perceived as relevant for ICT deployment and use. As part of
the data collection, informants were also ask
ed to evaluate the role and available level
of ICT expertise in their companies. Finally, we asked them specific questions about
their readiness to adopt advanced technologies such as RFID.

The collected data was
analysed to address the original research
questions.


Data Analysis

In short, the data revealed three main findings. Firstly, the study showed that
marketers feel that they cannot keep up with their current information systems, let
alone are prepared to adopt anything more advanced such as RFID. I
n three out of
four cases, marketers actually admitted to ignoring the data that they felt was
unnecessary, failing to meticulously evaluate what was crucial. “
To be honest I am
still trying to keep up with our current system…more data may prove difficult”

(Company B).

Secondly, the study confirmed that marketers continue to misunderstand how
technologies such as RFID could be of assistance to them. Indeed three of the
companies failed to recognise the potentially vital importance of ICT in marketing,
and
when technologies were utilised it was usually for purely operational purposes.
“IT is not a huge part of our marketing. We usually leave that to the IT department”
(Company C).


16







COMPANY

A (MKT)

COMPANY

B (MKT)

COMPANY

C (MKT)

COMPANY

D (MKT)

COMPANY

D
(IT)



RESPONDENT /


INTERVIEWEE


HEAD OF
MARKETING


HEAD OF
MARKETING


MARKETING

EXECUTIVE


HEAD OF
MARKETING


HEAD OF I.T


WHO CARRIES
OUT
MARKETING


MARKETING,
EXTERNAL PR,
MEDIA & DM
AGENCIES


MARKETING
DEPT


MARKETING
DEPT


MARKETING
DEPARTMENT


SOME
MARKETING
APPLICATIONS


WHO ANALYSES
DATA?


MARKETERS/

DM AGENCY


MARKETING

DEPT


Sales Data
; M.I.S

Customer Data
;
MARKETING
DEPT


MARKETERS


I.T,

MARKETERS,
AUDIT DEPT


HAVE YOU
HEARD OF RFID?



YES


NO


NO


NO


YES


DO YOU THINK
THE
APPLICATION
OF RFID WOULD
BENEFIT YOUR
FIRM?



YES


YES*


YES*


NOT SURE*


YES



ESTIMATED
DATE FOR
IMPLEMENTING
RFID?


2007


NOT SURE


NOT SURE


NOT SURE


2010 / 2011


IMPORTANCE
OF ICT IN
MARKETING?


“ICT and
marketing are now
inextricably
linked”


“ICT is
beco
ming
more central in
our marketing
operations”


“ICT is not a huge
part of our
marketing”


“More an issue
for I.T than the
marketing
department”



“ICT is the nexus
that binds the
company”


HOW WELL YOU
COPE WITH
CURRENT
INFORMATION
SYSTEM?

(OUT OF 10)



8/10



6/10



7/10



7/10



9/10


HOW WELL YOU
WOULD COPE
WITH EXTRA
INFO CREATED
FROM RFID USE?


SYSTEM
CAPABLE OF
DEALING WITH
MORE COMPLEX
DATA


TRYING TO
KEEP UP
WITH
CURRENT
SYSTEM



WOULD COPE
OK



TOO MUCH
DATA COULD
BE DIFFICULT



VERY WELL


17

Summary of Research Findings

Thirdly, the study highlighted the general ignorance of marketers with regard to
RFID, with three out of the four companies admitting to have never even heard of it.
Most worrying was the fact that in the case of two of these
companies, RFID trial runs
had already been carried out in some of their stores.


These findings thus support some of the central tenets of current thinking in the
literature, namely that marketers are fundamentally challenged by both opportunities
and d
ifficulties associated with ICT deployment. Among the marketers studied it
appears that not only is their awareness of and capabilities for deploying advanced
ICT low, but there is little understanding of the substantial opportunities inherent in
such nove
l technologies. Marketers appear to take a very reactive attitude to ICT use
which tends to be either prompted internally by other organisational functions (first
and foremost the technologists), or externally by competitive actions. In either case,
the ma
rketers studied appear to be missing the strategic significance of early and
proactive ICT deployment. Moreover, we noted the presence of a distinct threshold
for even considering the engagement with novel ICT such as RFID.


In summary, our exploratory st
udy indicates a surprisingly low level of sophistication
in the use of currently deployed ICT. In line with this, marketers in the studied
companies appeared to have very little knowledge, and limited proactive interest in
learning, about RFID and other in
novative ICT solutions. Thus RFID appears to be
another technology which links to the Brady et al (2004) contention that most ICTs in
marketing are both overlooked, and in turn underexploited.


Limitations & Further Research

This paper explores some of the

barriers to the adoption of novel ICTs. They include a
lack of constructive marketing engagement by innovating companies. More active
marketing involvement with ICT during both development and deployment is a
necessary requirement. More immediately in the

studies context there appears to be
the need to build the required information management capabilities within the
company, and particularly in the marketing function. Finally, marketers need to
recognise the importance of public perception for the success
ful deployment of
innovative ICT. Based on our study all of these areas can benefit from substantial

18

additional attention, but without additional understanding of how these barriers play
out in particular contexts this is difficult.


From a research pers
pective it is necessary to understand determinants for ICT
deployment among marketers better. More research into first movers in ICT
deployment, for example, may provide important insights into reasons for and
enablers of early technology adoption. A relat
ed issue is a better understanding of the
information dissemination patterns regarding innovative ICTs. Finally, we believe
that better understanding of the organisational arrangements that enable better
absorption of external and better transfer of intern
al ICT relevant knowledge (see
Fellenz & Brady, 2006) would provide useful insights into the factors ultimately
driving the success and failure of ICT innovations.


From a practice perspective, we believe that a useful first step in addressing the above
ba
rriers would be for
marketers to learn to more fully exploit already available data
from current ICT use. In addition to adding value based on current technology
deployment this would increase their abilities for better information management. In
addition,

their threshold for considering additional ICT deployment will likely
become lower over time.
For sophisticated users of ICT in business there needs to be
research that comprehensively addresses the enablers and barriers to RFID
deployment, including the
role of particular contextual factors, which could be of
immense value.


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