Navigating the Data Capture Landscape: Threats and Opportunities in 2024

Chris Brown

RFID Program Manager, TSC Printronix Auto ID

The biggest threats facing data capture solution providers are generally weak economic conditions, supply chain issues and complex regulatory environments.

Data capture solution providers rely on a healthy economy to power their customers.  If the end-user customer base is facing weak demand from their customers, this translates into reduced demand for data capture solutions.  Many believe that 2024 will be a challenging year for the general economy, which may translate into weak demand for AIDC products and services.

Although most of the critical supply chain issues have been resolved, their effects have not been completely worked out.  2022 was a banner year for the AIDC channel as supply chains came back online.  However, many AIDC providers and end-users “overbought”, creating an inventory glut for many AIDC products.

Complex regulations are both a threat and an opportunity for data capture solution providers.  They are a threat in that solution providers expose themselves to liabilities if they make an error.  Solution providers must invest heavily into unraveling and understanding all the nuances involved to ensure they offer compliant solutions.  Conversely, regulations and mandates are an opportunity for the AIDC channel, as capable, competent solution providers can provide a genuine value-added service and gain a competitive advantage.

From a technology perspective, RFID is a major opportunity for 2024.  Retailer mandates are in full swing, and solution providers are now well poised to help their customers comply.  Additionally, RFID is gaining traction in the Food and Healthcare industries.  RFID implementations will most likely not be large-scale in 2024 for Food and Healthcare, but there will be numerous proof-of-concept and pilot implementations.   Additionally, RFID products and the requisite skillset have matured sufficiently for RFID to become commonplace as an Asset Tracking solution. 

Regulations and mandates can be viewed as a major opportunity for the AIDC channel.  Buzzwords such as FSMA 204, DSCSA, Retailer mandates, and ATA Spec2000 all need to be decoded by our channel.  Resellers who can clearly explain the requirements to their customers, explain how AIDC solutions can help flip the switch from non-compliance to compliance, and finally implement such AIDC solutions will have numerous opportunities in 2024.

The ability to implement standards-based solutions is another opportunity for 2024.  Regulations and mandates do not work unless trading partners and regulatory authorities are using the same standards.  This may sound obvious, but the reality is that many standards are not clearly understood, and other standards are not yet fully developed.  Data capture solution providers who can implement standards-based solutions – and explain the standards in use – have a major competitive advantage for 2024 and beyond.

 RFID has crossed multiple critical thresholds in terms of cost, ease-of-deployment, functionality, and market acceptance.  End-users are getting the message that RFID does work and, if implemented correctly, can have a significantly positive ROI.

In connection with RFID, we have significant improvements in their associated standards.  Historically, RFID adoption has been hampered by a lack of maturity in RFID-related standards, but we have crossed a threshold in this area too.  Standards are no longer an obstacle; standards are now a driver of RFID adoption.

 Finally, “trend setters” like Walmart and Chipotle and regulatory authorities are now factoring RFID into their labeling requirements and guidelines.  We do not have RFID regulations connected with Food or Pharma yet, but don’t be surprised if we do in a few years.  In any case, numerous entities that generate labeling requirements are now on board to some extent or another for RFID.  Over the next few years, this will greatly drive the adoption of RFID.