Saturday, April 15, 2006
RFID Dreams or How Google Will Take Over the World
Anyone working in the high-tech industry can’t help but be aware of Radio Frequency ID (RFID) Tagging. Despite a marketing and creative background, I’m also a closet IT aficionado, which means I’ve read enough of these RFID stories in EWeek and InformationWeek in recent years to make anyone’s eyes glaze over. This might be why I found myself daydreaming about what the trickle down benefit might be for the rest of us — after the shipping companies (for whom the benefit of knowing where the customer’s stuff is at any given time is obvious) are done with their implementations, once the cost of infrastructure upgrades comes down. Beyond business operations improvements, can any of this be turned to improving the results and tracking of b-to-b marketing initiatives so we can get a better grip on our customers?
Let’s say someday they’re able to increase the tag reader range by a huge leap from its current 20 feet. On that day I’d envision running out to my commercial printer to do a direct mailer using integrated circuit printing technology to lay a microthin (and nearly invisible) RFID tag right on the mail piece. I’d send the piece via snail mail to my prospect — some things don’t change, after all — but unlike my colleagues from the dark old days of ROI-challenged marketing, I’d be able to track exactly when (or if) my future customer opens the piece, because the RFID transmitter would be triggered to start radioing a unique serial number at the very instant the wafer seal on the mailer is broken. Of course, I’d be able to pick up that radioed serial number (and the latitude & longitude of the prospect) because the GoogleSat geolocation service (fresh out of beta from Google Labs!) would be able to read it from its constellation of satellites in orbit and relay it to my GoogleCRM account (Google Analytics after it eats Salesforce.com). Within minutes, a sales exec would be calling Joe Prospect up on his videophone to talk about how our services can help him with this or that. The only thing Mr. Prospect won’t be able to do is pretend he didn’t get the piece or that he isn’t in the office: the resolving power of Google Earth will let me zoom down to 3 feet and see that he’s trying to hide under his desk.
Can any of this fancy come to pass? Although they’re probably nice enough people, I don’t think I want Google to rule the world, but I sure would like to have the tools for such direct and immediate impact on building the opportunity pipeline at my disposal. Now if I could just get that flying car that’s been on backorder…