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Portability troubles and RFID fears

I'm sure very few were surprised this past week when the latest news coverage revealed that wireless carriers are still struggling with number portability.

According to the FCC, it has received more than 4,700 informal complaints as of Jan. 23, and that doesn't count all of the people who didn't know how or where to complain. AT&T Wireless, the most egregious offender, was mentioned in a staggering 2,297 complaints. The wireless carrier's portability problems have already been well documented, and the company that eventually acquires AT&T Wireless may have a daunting public relations mess to clean up.

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 Fortunately, this hullabaloo surrounding number portability could be a good thing for your business. Why? Experts say companies should be cautions when changing wireless carriers because the process is far from glitch free, and the competition between carriers for lucrative enterprise contracts could create even better deals in the near future. So if you're getting pressure from your CFO to make a change, be sure he or she knows both sides of the story.

In other news, Oracle joined the parade of companies to offer RFID support, hoping to capitalize on the dozens of Wal-Mart Stores suppliers that are under the gun to implement the wireless supply chain tracking technology on shipping pallets prior to Jan. 1, 2005.

Still, many companies have yet to realize that implementing RFID means altering business processes as well, which is no easy task. And even though RFID is nothing new, expert Tim Scannell will attest to the fact that fear and uncertainty about RFID is growing.

There will no doubt be sizable opportunities this year for vendors offering cures to RFID growing pains, but it remains to be seen which of the major ERP vendors will pull their strategies together in time to benefit.

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