Tracking equipment and assets across a large enterprise is complex for a company’s management, as well as for the fleets of workers who use that equipment and, in some cases, must conduct self-audits. Most solutions are not designed to bring visibility to all who have a stake in the use and status of those items, and that can be a costly shortcoming. EZOfficeInventory sells asset-tracking software to make it easier for all stakeholders to access the information they need about things—from laptops to custodial equipment or tools.
This week, several of EZOfficeInventory’s customers will be the first to trial an RFID-based version of the cloud-based solution so that they can more efficiently and reliably capture data regarding the location and use of their assets across multiple sites. The first two companies, which have asked to remain unnamed, will use the technology for several weeks before it will then be released commercially, including to all of the company’s 20,000 customers, according to Ali Syed, EZOfficeInventory’s CEO.
Located in Austin, Texas, EZOfficeInventory is a global asset-tracking software firm whose customers include 3M, Disney, CNN, BBC and Amazon. Companies use the solution to gain enterprise-wide management of data about their equipment or assets, which may be located at one of numerous sites and, in many cases, travel away from offices or company sites to be used in the field and then returned.
Often, businesses utilize bar codes or QR codes to uniquely identify items, employing scanners or handheld devices, as well as EZOfficeInventory’s apps and cloud-based software. In recent years, some of the software firm’s customers have been asking about the potential to use RFID technology to further automate the collection of asset data. Users could simply read the tags of all items within a given area, such as a storage room, by walking through it with a handheld reader, for instance.
The obstacle for EZOfficeInventory has been the RFID readers’ operating software, Syed says. Around 2014, the company says it investigated employing some of the standard UHF RFID handheld readers with its solution, but found that they all relied on Microsoft’s Windows CE operating system. That, he explains, was too outdated for EZOfficeInventory’s system, which required something more nimble, such as Windows Mobile, iOS or Android-based systems. With more modern operating systems, a software developer’s kits (SDK) could enable the firm to integrate the device with its existing apps and software.
“It’s been extremely frustrating,” Syed says. The company postponed any RFID deployments as it waited for RFID device manufacturers to release updated versions of their products with a modern OS, such as Windows Mobile. “It’s about connecting two entities—a reader and the app—not building software on top of Windows CE,” he states.