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Microsoft, BT Go Item-Level With RFID Tagging

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The software company and the telecom firm will be working together to provided radio frequency ID as a managed service to the retail sector.

A combination of BT RFID data management and systems integration and Microsoft data capture and analysis expertise have lead to the announcement of the joint RFID venture. Its first customer for the managed service will be the Marks & Spencer chain.

Marks & Spencer has been testing BT’s RFID in its clothing supply chain since February. That nine-store trial will extend to about 50 stores. BT’s Auto-ID Services will deliver the solution as a Microsoft .NET application, running on Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2000.

Many companies, like RFID technology leader IBM, have been delivering RFID to the supply chain as a pallet or case-level solution. Those solutions naturally carry multiple units of a particular item. A business using RFID can track that case as it moves from its arrival in the receiving area through a distribution center to its place in the picking area.

Sensors and actuators placed at strategic points pick up the signals from the RFID tags and transmit the information to a central point. With this data being collected continuously, a business can better plan its ordering of more products.

Item-level tagging goes inside the case, with each item getting a tag. Now the process of tracking products goes beyond the warehouse to the retail outlets, in this example. As individual items go from the store rack to the checkout counter, businesses get an even more granular look at their inventory.

By bringing out RFID as a managed service, BT and Microsoft hope to lower the perceived barriers to adoption of the technology.

“Combining BT’s proven RFID track record with Microsoft’s Smarter Retailing Solutions including data infrastructure and analytics will give retailers the improved business intelligence, better inventory accuracy and the real-time visibility they need to face the growing demands of today’s consumer,” said Dilip Popat, Managing Director, Microsoft EMEA Retail Industry Unit.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

Microsoft, BT Go Item-Level With RFID Tagging
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