April 20, 2006 6:07 AM PDT

New Wal-Mart CIO steams ahead with RFID

Wal-Mart Stores' new chief information officer is singing the praises of radio frequency identification tags.

Rollin Ford, who is also an executive vice president at the retail giant, promised at a company-sponsored conference last week to pursue the expanded use of the tracking technology as fervently as his predecessor.

"There will be no slowing down. RFID will transform the way we do business."
--Rollin Ford, CIO, Wal-Mart Stores

"There will be no slowing down. RFID will transform the way we do business," he reiterated in a statement.

Wal-Mart has been pioneering the use of the controversial technology in the retail world since it mandated that 100 suppliers tag their products from the start of 2005.

Linda Dillman, the company's previous CIO, had overseen Wal-Mart's ambitious RFID plans but moved on earlier this month to become the retailer's executive vice president of risk management and benefits administration.

Under Dillman, Wal-Mart released some of the RFID project's findings, revealing that its use resulted in a 16 percent reduction in the number of times products went out of stock.

Ford will now be in charge of the next wave of RFID, known as Gen2.

"When Gen2 was released, we planned to make it our standard at the beginning of this year. We have done that, and I can confirm that we will be sunsetting Gen1 on June 30," he said.

Ford also said Wal-Mart's tech team and its vendors have overcome one of the major problems cited by would-be item-level taggers: the failure of RFID to work on vessels holding liquids or made of metal.

As well as moving the chain to Gen2 tags, Ford will also be overseeing the expansion of RFID from the start of 2007, when the number of suppliers required to tag their goods will rise to 600.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.

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RFID, CIO, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Ford, radio frequency

4 comments

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what is it
what is RFID any way?
Posted by zykos (1 comment )
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It is --
RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. In the case of Walmart, it basically is a barcode replacement that allows scanners to remotely scan inventory (if inventory is so labeled). This means that when bulk shipments are delivered, the boxes the goods come in do not need to be taken out of the box for inventory to be scanned (counted), further reducing time wasted on logistics. It is a very controversial topic -- search google to your hearts content. US Govt is looking to include RFIDs in the next wave of Passports. There are people who are implanting RFIDs into their hands which will operate door locks simply by waving your hand in front of a sensor, etc.
Posted by dlee312 (15 comments )
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It is... the mark of the beast!
But, seriously, RFID is in encroachment on privacy and civil liberties, whether it's for human tracking or product tracking, I don't want anyone knowing what I'm purchasing and when I'm "out", and the data mining companies can then go and sell that info to marketers, and it may include, depending how it's set up, sensitive info, possibly your social security number and and credit info, and credit card number.
Posted by MisterFlibble (207 comments )
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