E NOW The benefits of radio frequency identification are many and varied and span numerous sectors, but RFID products have something in common with all other types of capital equipment: Before purchasing and deploying an RFID solution, a company must first be convinced that the system will provide a return on investment (ROI). The RFID solution provider must convince its client not only that the product will solve the problems being addressed, but also that the benefits of that solution, which always comes down to a fiscal calculation, will be realized within as short a time as possible. In some sectors, this will be easier than in others. In situations for which all assets benefiting from an RFID system are already equipped with RFID tags, the return starts as soon as the system is implemented; in others, this isn’t the case. Let’s examine a few example markets in which the retrospective tagging of assets is a prerequisite to a successful system launch. The health sector is one. Whether equipment or patient records are targeted to be tracked and managed via RFID, there is a requirement to apply tags to hundreds or, more likely, thousands of critical medical assets, or perhaps hundreds of thousands of patient records. Until this task is complete, the system will not work and your client’s ROI calculation cannot start. The library sector is another example of an industry in which many thousands of items must be tagged before the system is of any real use. An average university library may have 350,000 items to process, while large public library systems contain 1 million items or more across multiple sites. This is a considerable task that must be carried out by hand, one by one, and an indispensable one in the creation of that essential return on investment. Could it be accomplished quicker and potentially better? The short answer is yes. For many years, the library sector has used the services of a professional tagging company, one that understands the technology and can RFID-tag items in an efficient, quality-controlled and timescale-guaranteed manner. A professional tagging service can yield some key benefits for both the RFID solution’s seller and its end user. Project planning for the tagging element is taken care of. There is a fixed timescale for the project, making the wider RFID installation more defined and easier to plan. It’s usually more cost-effective than the alternatives, such as self-tagging by the end user. Perhaps most important, the system will not falter due to a poor understanding or application of the technology—it is only as good as the information stored on the tags, and it can also fall down if tags are poorly positioned. The best way to achieve an ROI, or to sell an ROI proposition, is to ensure that the investment generates the value as soon as possible, and the best way to accomplish that is to implement in full as early as possible. Using a commercial tagging company will ensure that the most labor-intensive element of an RFID installation is professionally managed and completed, on time and on budget.