Wal-Mart's New CIO Says He'll Back RFIDBy Renee Boucher Ferguson | Posted 2006-04-13 Email Print
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Rollin Ford's predecessor, Linda Dillman, is largely credited with galvanizing the RFID industry and launching Wal-Mart to rock star status in the RFID community.Suppliers and RFID vendors alike can breathe a sigh of relief.
Wal-Mart Stores' new CIO, Rollin Ford, said in an in-house CIO Summit on April 13 that he plans to stand behind the RFID technology march at Wal-Mart, much to the same degree his predecessor did.
Ford, the former executive vice president of logistics and supply chain at Wal-Mart, replaced Linda Dillman in the top IT spot earlier in April.
Dillman is now the executive vice president of risk management and benefits administration at Wal-Mart.
The management changes are part of a standard executive level shake-up that the company's founder put in place as an exercise in cross training.
Dillman is largely credited with galvanizing the RFID industryone that had lain fallow for a decade previously.
In 2003, under her guidance, Wal-Mart issued a mandate to its top 100 suppliers that they RFID-enable their goods coming into two of Wal-Mart's distribution centers by the following year.
That mandate, along with others from the Department of Defense and retailers like Albertsons, spawned a development movement among vendors as wellin hardware, software and standards setting activities.
"Like Linda, I view RFID as a strategy that offers tremendous competitive advantage," said Ford, in Bentonville, Ark., at the company's CIO Summit. "There will be no slowing down."
Ford said he is committed to the same technology Dillman championed, including the EPC Gen 2 standard which was ratified last year and implemented in commercial products this year.
Ford said the company is moving ahead with plans to phase out Gen 1 technology on June 30.
He also said he's fairly impressed with the ability for Gen 2 RFID tags, which support UHF, or ultra high frequency tags and readers, to be used for pharmaceutical tagging.
"Many thought UHF tags could not be read around water or metal and that only HF [high frequency] tags could meet these tests," said Ford, in a statement.
"However, our team and our technology partners proved that the new UHF Gen 2 tags could, in fact, be read in water and on metal. That's nothing short of a breakthrough."
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