Fosso Wamba, S., Barjis, J. and Takeoka Chatfield, A. (2010), "Business impacts of RFID applications", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 16 No. 6. https://doi.org/10.1108/bpmj.2010.15716faa.001Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Business impacts of RFID applications
Article Type: Guest editorial From: Business Process Management Journal, Volume 16, Issue 6
About the Guest Editors
Samuel Fosso WambaLecturer in IT, University of Wollongong. His research interests comprise supply chain management, inter-organizational systems adoption and use, RFID-EPC Network and m-commerce. He has published in international journals, International Journal of Production Economics, Information Systems Frontier, and Journal of Theoretical, and Applied Electronic Commerce Research, and international conferences, Hawaii International Conferences on System Sciences and Americas Conference on Information Systems. He is CompTIA-RFID+certified.
Joseph Barjis Associate Professor of Systems and Modeling and Simulation at Delft University of Technology. His research interests are focused on business process modeling and simulation, enterprise modeling and simulation, healthcare processes modeling and simulation, information systems design, system analysis and design, collaborative, participative, and interactive modeling. He is the Founder of the Special Interest Group on Modeling and Simulation (SIGMAS) of the Association for Information Systems (www.AIS-SIGMAS.org/); he is also the Founder of the International Workshop on Enterprise and Organizational Modeling and Simulation (www.EOMAS.org/); he is a member of Program Committee and Editorial Board in several international conferences and journals.
Akemi Takeoka ChatfieldHead of e-Government and e-Governance Research Group, and a Senior Lecturer in IT at University of Wollongong. Her research interests include IT benefits realization, e-government impact, and RFID/GIS-enabled government-community disaster management. She published in Journal of Management Information Systems (1997 and 2000), Communications of the ACM, Information Systems Frontier, Information Technology for Development Journal, and Electronic Journal of e-Government, and leading international IS conference proceedings, including three papers in HICSS.
The RFID technology and discipline have been widely discussed in research circles, business and industry forums. Recently, a number of publication venues have been created to foster scientific insights and solicit new research results on RFID technology. This special issue was launched to serve as a source, where newest findings of research on RFID applications, organizational and business impacts, and implementation challenges are put together.
With its growing affordability, availability, and applicability, the RFID technology finds its way into literally every sector of economy, business and industry such as transportation and cargo, storage and retail, healthcare, manufacturing, and many other sectors and domains. One of the domains where RFID is showing unprecedented potential is supply chain management, where tracking, monitoring, timing, security, coordination, and planning play important roles.
As a whole, RFID technology is emerging as the next wave of interorganizational information systems that can transform supply chain management practices. While the potential of RFID technology is obviously high in terms of operational performance optimization, there are various theoretical and managerial issues that require scientific intervention. For example, how should an appropriate business case be constructed? What is the impact on the firm when RFID is used only by some of the trading partners? Will RFID have similar impacts inside and outside the adapting organization? In the same light, it is worth to research what considerations are to be taken into account at the extended enterprise network level and throughout the whole industry. Most importantly, the introduction of RFID will have certain behavioral, managerial, and business impacts. It is interesting to analyze how RFID and real-time decision making will change managerial and organizational capabilities, etc.
In contributing to these debates, this special issue aims to publish most recent research results addressing RFID applications and RFID business impacts study using innovative approaches, including modeling and simulation.
All papers submitted to the special issue were subjected to a double-blind review process in three rounds of review, with a minimum of three reviewers per paper. Only most relevant papers were selected for publication in the special issue. To avoid any conflict of interest, the review for the introductory paper of this special issue was conducted outside the special issue review process and the review was handled by the journal editor in chief.
Synopsis of the contributions
In this section, we provide a synopsis of the contributions included in this special issue.
In the paper “Organizational and business impacts of RFID technology”, by Joseph Barjis and Samuel Fosso Wamba, a brief introduction to RFID technology is provided and its organizational and business impacts are discussed. In particular, this paper discusses potentials and challenges of RFID application. Furthermore, this paper draws a research agenda by highlighting a few topics or issues that need more research in order to foster diffusion of RFID technology and facilitate its large-scale adoption and implementation. In this manner, this introductory paper is setting a stage for the rest of this special issue and preparing the reader for more extended reading later on, which can be found in each of the subsequent papers by other authors.
In the paper “Understanding data volume problems of RFID-enabled supply chains”, Alexander Ilic, Andrea Grössbauer, Florian Michahelles, and Elgar Fleisch present a simulation study based on a real-world scenario that reveals quantitative characteristics of the data volumes problem in an RFID-enabled supply chain and discuss its implications. Their results suggest that data volumes will be much lower than currently assumed by practitioners. Thus, the work can be seen as a first basis for eliminating unjustified adoption concerns regarding data volumes complexity. However, the authors found that the data volume problems bear still significant challenges for researchers and developers of RFID infrastructures with real-time decision-making applications. The paper is one of the first scholarly works that analyzes RFID data volume problems in supply chains with a quantitative methodology.
In the paper “RFID implementation with virtual infrastructures”, William Lorchirachoonkul and John P.T. Mo discuss the issues of current RFID infrastructures being too rigid and restrictive for the purpose of tracking when the products move out of the system’s coverage. To analyze this shortcoming, existing RFID infrastructures are modeled as a six-level system hierarchy. The concept of system virtualization is introduced and a service abstraction layer is defined at a high level so that non-RFID infrastructures can be encapsulated. Through the common abstraction layer, system developers are able to develop virtual infrastructures that integrate RFID and non-RFID applications. Two identification technologies are also introduced and their usage is explored in conjunction with the virtual infrastructure. To demonstrate how the virtual infrastructure model work with the desirable capability, a virtual infrastructure system known as Transparent has been implemented in a shipping company with distributed operations in three states. The result shows significant savings in system commissioning and operation.
In the paper “Incorporating business process management into RFID-enabled application systems”, Xiaohui Zhao, Chengfei Liu, and Tao Lin, look into the incorporation of business process modeling and execution management into RFID-enabled application systems, as well as discuss the synergy between RFID technology and business process management. Technically, this paper focuses on the RFID data handling in business process management by injecting business logics into RFID edge systems, and thereby supports the business transaction automation. The proposed approach adopts an object-oriented perspective in modeling the behaviours of RFID-tagged objects and eliciting the business meaningful events from raw RFID read events. With this perspective, this approach well caters for the real-time event series, time-dependent status and dynamic context features of RFID data handling, and therefore better fits RFID-enabled applications than traditional process-centric approaches.
In the paper “Assessing the impact of RFID and sensor technologies on the returns management of time-sensitive products”, Cosmin Condea, Frédéric Thiesse, and Elgar Fleisch present a case study to examine the returns management process at a manufacturer of high-tech consumer electronics. They develop an analytical model to study the monetary benefits in a scenario with RFID-enabled product disposition. Their results show that RFID allows for a redesign of the return process that performs more efficiently regarding the total recovered value depending on technology costs (i.e. tag costs) and capabilities (i.e. sufficient sensor-delivered parameters to rightly infer product quality). The results also indicate that maximum benefits can be drawn with lower accuracy but early decision on the disposition option.
In the paper “RFID adoption and the role of organisational size”, Jens Strüker and Daniel Gille conduct analysis of survey data from an organizational inertia perspective. This paper takes a closer look at the role of small and medium-size enterprises (SME) in the context of RFID implementations. Even though SMEs account for the huge majority of firms in the EU, research covering the role of organizational size as a factor of RFID adoption is widely under-estimated. Determining firm-size specific characteristics of RFID and then using organizational inertia theory, the hypothesis is established that the special structure of SMEs in combination with their typical size can be beneficial when it comes to adopting RFID systems. In order to test the hypothesis, empirical data of a study among German enterprises already deploying RFID are used. The findings indicate that RFID adoption and exploitation of the productivity potential can be easier if enterprise size is relatively small. Consequently, recommendations for SMEs considering RFID investments are derived.
In the paper “Redesigning the replenishment process of medical supplies in hospitals with RFID”, Ygal Bendavid, Harold Boeck, and Richard Philippe investigate the impact of RFID on supply chain performance improvement in the healthcare sector. The authors suggest that, although RFID shows tremendous potential to enhance the efficiency of healthcare supply chain, it is an often neglected technology in this industry. They therefore present a case study of a hospital nursing unit that has evaluated and approved an RFID-based e-kanban replenishment system. The authors use both qualitative and quantitative data that were collected using a multi-method approach including on-site interviews, observations, experience from previous implementations, and simulation analysis. Their results indicate that implementing the RFID e-kanban solution in conjunction with redesigning replenishment processes can substantially improve business and operational performance while increasing patient care activities. Finally, the authors indicate that the most important benefits for the hospital are derived from the time saved from non-value-added activities and the significant reduction of on-hand inventory at distributed storage locations.
In the paper “RFID-Env: methods and software simulation for RFID environments”, Marcelo Cunha de Azambuja, Carlos Fernando Jung, Carla Schwengber ten Caten, and Fabiano Passuelo Hessel present the RFID-Env software tool, an RFID environment simulation system. This work presents the computation models that allowed the system development, such as the radio-frequency (RF) propagation formula used and how new RF models, for specific environments, can be generated. The paper also presents the signal collision problem due to the signal emitted from the tags simultaneously and how the simulator deals with this situation, in other words, the anti-collision algorithms used. The results and tests made in this study show that RFID simulation system tools can be really helpful to designers in the assembly definition moment of new environments where the RFID technology will be used, saving time and money that would be spent in real tests.
This special issue is a product of team work, team spirit, and team support. It would be unfair to not recognize the efforts of the whole team: first of all, the journal management, Professor Majed Al-Mashari, Ms Andrea Watson Lee, and Ms Lucy Sootheran, were supportive throughout the whole cycle and the Guest Editors appreciate their support to help this special issue towards its completion. The assigned reviewers did great work to ensure that each recommended paper receives expert comments for improvement before appearing in the special issue. Their work is sincerely commended. At last, but not least, the content of this special issue owes its existence to the excellent contributions of the authors. The Guest Editors would like to thank each of the authors for their contribution and diligent work while their paper went through rounds of reviews.
Samuel Fosso Wamba, Joseph Barjis, Akemi Takeoka ChatfieldGuest Editors