SAP, Oracle face critical juncture in RFID market

Oracle has announced several RFID-related enhancements to its Sensor Edge Server, but one industry analyst thinks that both Oracle and rival SAP need to do more to innovate on RFID technologies.

Oracle has unveiled new enhancements to its Sensor Edge Server that are designed to make it easier for companies

to deal with radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies. But one industry analyst thinks that both Oracle and chief rival SAP AG have much to do in terms of providing true RFID innovation.

We don't think that SAP and Oracle are particularly good at delivering [RFID] process innovation at this point
Jeff Woods,
 research vice presidentGartner Inc.

"We don't think that SAP and Oracle are particularly good at delivering [RFID] process innovation at this point," said Robert Woods, a research vice president with Stamford, Conn.-based analyst firm Gartner Inc. "What they are good at is commoditizing processes."

The new version of Sensor Edge Server is shipping with Oracle Fusion Middleware 10g Release 3 and offers RFID users better management of the industry's leading RFID tag readers, antennas, tag printers and response systems; enhanced user management capabilities, including a task-oriented user interface; an improved RFID compliance workspace; and improved reporting capabilities, said Amlan Debnath, Oracle vice president of server technologies.

Oracle announced the enhancements at the RFID Journal Live conference being held this week in Las Vegas. The conference addresses the challenges and pitfalls related to RFID deployments.

Related information:

Oracle showcases RFID partners, to launch data hub

Suppliers must look beyond RFID compliance, analyst says

Can SAP win RFID race?

"The two big things that have happened is that we have made it simpler for [users] to implement… and we are taking a totally standards-based approach," Debnath said.

Oracle's Sensor Edge Server competes directly with SAP's Auto-ID product line. Woods said that the two industry giants have been battling it out in the RFID market ever since the technology began making headlines a few years ago. But rather than focusing on RFID process innovation, Woods said the rival software makers have been concerned mainly with solving the "fairly complicated" technological problem of how to take large amounts of RFID data and pipe that into applications in a useful way.

"This is going to be an ecosystem to ecosystem battle," Woods said. "The one who has the most innovative services within their ecosystem [will come out on top]."

Woods said that currently, many RFID users are opting to go with smaller third party software vendors like OATSystems Inc., T3Ci and TrueDemand Inc. for their their RFID business process needs. Woods said he wouldn't be surprised if the acquisition-happy Oracle one day purchases such a company.

"I wouldn't put it out of the question," he said. "Oracle wants to buy a lot of companies."

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