2008-2010 were challenging years for RTLS due to economic conditions, unmanaged expectations and the market’s lack of understanding of the solution and all its supporting technologies, its capabilities and its value propositions. During this timeframe several companies closed down or left the market, budgets plateaued or contracted, and existing deployments saw limited scaling. Not only did the economic environment create an additional barrier to adoption, but the end user community was becoming more familiar and comfortable with RTLS, yet still struggling to comprehend its value propositions. Aside from a handful of innovators and early adopters, the end user community for RTLS was simply not ready yet.
The activity experienced in 2011 indicates that this market is beginning to grow in both green- and brown-field accounts … but not in every vertical. More mature verticals such as Health Care, Government and Transportation/Logistics – accounts and markets that have been cultivated and nurtured for several years – now have a greater understanding of the solution’s value proposition and business models, have become more committed and are increasing investment. However, adoption in other verticals such as Retail, Manufacturing and Commercial services remained limited or stagnant as the solution continues to be refined for these markets and value propositions and benchmarks are developed and proven.
VDC predicts that 2012, although anticipated to be challenged by continued global economic volatility, will be another year of growth and scale in the RTLS market – more so than 2011. Trends to watch in 2012 include: broader adoption, convergence, analytics and deeper integration. RTLS solutions will not only be used to track more objects assets, and people, they will also become more widely deployed throughout the enterprise and its value chains. As it becomes more broadly deployed, RTLS solutions will increasingly converge with other technologies and systems (i.e., barcode, sensors) as a means to further extend the platform and provide greater visibility. These systems will generate an unprecedented amount of “true real-time” data and will require advanced analytics and information distribution mechanism to ensure that this business intelligence becomes operational intelligence. As the information becomes more operational and RTLS continues to be broadly deployed and converged throughout the enterprise and value chain, these systems will need to be deeply integrated in order to maximize value and potential.
All indicators are pointing toward a more prosperous 2012 for the RTLS industry, particularly for those companies that have weathered the storm, pressed ahead with market messaging and nurtured their installed base over the past few years.