By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2004-12-20 Print this article Print

Here's a look at the winning and losing technology projects of 2004. Toyota, Ameritrade and Wal-Mart are among the winners. Losers: Wal-Mart suppliers, Wells Fargo and Ford.



Most likely return on investment for Wal-Mart suppliers when they add radio tags to their shipments of goods.

While Wal-Mart may benefit from pushing RFID into the supply chain, the benefit to its suppliers is questionable.

Indeed, many suppliers are adopting a "slap and ship" approach, just tagging each pallet before sending it to Wal-Mart ("Hit or Myth?" February). Simon Langford, Wal-Mart's manager for RFID, calls the just-comply crowd shortsighted.

But less than a handful of suppliers say they expect to get a return from their investments in RFID. Holding up the show is physics. If you ship liquid products, such as soup, in metal containers, reading tags is going to be difficult. In tests observed by [ital]Baseline, even items such as plastic wrap throw off radio signals.


Leaks of confidential information about Wells Fargo customers.

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, the nation's largest residential mortgage lender, on three occasions in the past year had to notify customers that confidential information was either stolen from its computers or viewed by unauthorized parties.

The trio of thefts:

  • A computer in Concord, Calif., containing private data on more than 200,000 customers was stolen in November 2003 from the office of a consultant to the company.
  • A laptop computer containing a database of thousands of Wells Fargo loan customers was swiped near St. Louis in February from the trunk of a rental car used by two of its employees.
  • Four computers containing records of thousands of student loans were stolen in October from the Norcross, Ga., office of Regulus Integrated Solutions, a processor of bills and statements for the bank.

    In all three cases, Wells Fargo notified the affected customers and provided them with free credit monitoring services. None of the swiped information was misused, the bank said. "We want to apologize to all our customers and let them know we're doing everything we can to prevent all breaches of customer information in the future," says spokeswoman Julie Tunis.

    Why, then, did you hear about these problems? Wells Fargo was complying with a California law that requires companies to disclose such breaches of customer information.

    Next Page: $220 Million


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