A Touchless Future? RFID and NFC, the Digital Transformation of Tomorrow

Amir Khoshniyati
Head of NFC Business at Avery Dennison
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Podcast Questions

  • Why companies think they had a digital transformation plan pre-Covid but they really didn’t.
  • We’ll discuss the growth of the NFC Chip Market
  • Adidas Telestar 18 soccer ball and the Adidas Parlay shoe and the many use cases for NFC technology.
  • We’ll talk about the power of retail NFC with contactless payments
  • Then we’ll talk about RFID and inventory management along with example retailers like Lululemon and Macy’s and how they’re use RFID technology to track every item across its fleet of stores and fulfillment centers to boost asset management systems at scale.
  • And we’ll check in with Amir on how his team is handling remote and distributed work.


Joe Toste (00:00):

This episode is sponsored by Nagarro. Nagarro is an 8,000 plus digital product engineering company that excels at solving complex business challenges through agility and innovation. We call it Thinking Breakthroughs. Thinking Breakthroughs is how we've helped industry leaders to embrace digital and accelerate technology-led innovation. Our clients range from startups to Fortune 500 companies like Verizon, Honeywell, Siemens, Lufthansa, Google, Intel, and many more. Our goal isn't just to be another vendor, but a long-term strategic partner.

Joe Toste (00:30):

What really separates us is how we see the changing and evolving world. The challenges that companies are facing are more unique and complex than ever before, especially with the technology disruption happening across the globe today. It's this technology disruption that our clients look to us to find solutions in a forward-thinking, agile, caring, extension of your team kind of way that can help transform, adapt and build both the now and the future. At Nagarro, we care. Caring is our super power. It drives us to deliver excellence to our clients.

Joe Toste (01:02):

It makes us responsible and it makes us better colleagues. It all begins with a conversation. You can email me at joe.toste@nagarro.com or message me on LinkedIn. For all information on Nagarro, check out nagarro.com. That's N-A-G-A-R-R-O.com. Let's talk about the possibilities. Now off to you, James.

James (01:27):

Thanks, Joe. Welcome everyone. You're listening to season two of TechTables, a Q&A podcast dedicated to interviewing industry leaders from across the globe, ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies. Mixing it up each week with topics ranging from design and digital product engineering to AI and Industry 4.0. Let's do this, Joe.

Joe Toste (01:49):

Thanks James. I'm super excited today as we shift our focus to all things NFC and RFID. Huge thank you to Amir Khoshniyati for taking time to come on the show and meet with me. In today's episode, we'll cover why companies think they had a digital transformation plan pre-COVID, but they really didn't. We'll discuss the growth of the NFC chip market. We'll talk about the Adidas Telstar 18 soccer ball and the Adidas Parley shoe, and the many use cases for NFC technology.

Joe Toste (02:11):

We'll talk about the power of retail NFC with contactless payments. Then we'll jump into RFID and inventory management, along with examples for retailers like Lululemon and Macy's and how they're using RFID technology to track every item across its fleet of stores and fulfillment centers to boost asset management systems at scale. We'll check in with Amir on how his team is handling remote and distributed work, but that's quite enough from me.

Joe Toste (02:36):

Without further ado, I'm thrilled to welcome Amir Khoshniyati, head of NFC business at Avery Dennison. Let's kick this off with a little bit about you and your background in the technology space at SMARTRAC and Avery Dennison.

Amir Khoshniyati (02:48):

Great. Yeah. My name is Amir Khoshniyati. I'm the head of NFC business at SMARTRAC and Avery Dennison company. I've been in technology all my life. Spent a majority of my experience earlier in the Microsoft sector, the value-added reseller. As things started to move to the cloud and really digitization became more and more prominent, realized that I had to get on the forefront and really be on the IP side of things. So a few years back, joined in with SMARTRAC, got heavily involved with NFC technology and ever since just really seen an uptake mostly on adoption.

Amir Khoshniyati (03:29):

Then also really exciting to be on the forefront of it and rolling it out in many different sectors, many different customers.

Joe Toste (03:36):

That's great. Yeah. NFC has really taken off, especially with COVID and digital payments. We'll jump into that a little bit later. A lot of companies think ... I always love this analogy. A lot of companies think they had a digital transformation plan before COVID. I talk to a lot of companies and I always love this quote from Mike Tyson. He said, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth or punched in the face." I love that because companies are scrambling to get a digital transformation plan, a new plan in order.

Joe Toste (04:07):

I was curious, can you define digital transformation for the audience and where you think digital is heading in a post-COVID world?

Amir Khoshniyati (04:13):

Definitely. Yeah. Digital transformation from our perspective is really the opportunity to give every physical item truly a digital identity. Everything from inception, that product gets a digital birth certificate, a footprint. Then as it moves through the supply chain, manufacturing side to distribution to a shop floor to a consumer's hand, whether it's a consumable or a disposable, it gives an opportunity to track and trace that item.

Amir Khoshniyati (04:42):

Then at the same time, when you look at the tail end of it, from an NFC standpoint, it gives the opportunity to engage with that product on an ongoing basis. It gives that product a digital space and a footprint. Then at the same time, it gives that opportunity for that product to be interacted with, and then the devices that interact with those products to interact with each other. You're in a bigger ecosystem, creating an Internet of Things where each digital identity is able to correlate to everything surrounding it.

Amir Khoshniyati (05:17):

What we've seen is not only an uptake in the adoption where within a supply chain, the use case and the adoption is becoming more and more prominent. What we've seen is now in really a COVID era and post-COVID era, many things are going contactless. When you look at a lot of the devices that typically had payment capabilities, well, that was NFC technology in its premature space. A lot of people were getting used to just tapping. Some people were using it. Some people weren't sure of the security, they weren't really adopting it.

Amir Khoshniyati (05:50):

Many people now, even with credit cards, are starting to see three lines on their credit cards, hooked lines and that's NFC technology. What's becoming more and more prominent is that this is now becoming used on many different things outside of just mobile phones and other devices. People are now using them outside of just contactless transfer of information from a payment standpoint, but also now doing it with physical products. You look at shop floor tools, you look at warranty maintenance, things like that, they're becoming more and more prominent as well.

Joe Toste (06:25):

That's really great. I like you said the opportunity to interact with each other. The big point is the experience for everyone across the board, the end users, really everyone, the experience is just getting a lot better. Across the supply chain, or if you're just using simply contactless payments, that experience is going to be much, much better, which I really like. I was reading the global NFC market estimated to reach 135 billion by 2025/2026. I was reading that in 2017 it was 17 billion, so it's growing.

Joe Toste (07:01):

Can you talk about the big opportunity in the NFC market across the many different application and use cases? We talked about contactless payments, user authorization, access control, healthcare system, information sharing. You can just touch upon a couple of those big opportunities in the NFC market.

Amir Khoshniyati (07:18):

Sure. What's been a primary driver for us has really been the retail business. It's been a combination of applying tags, either in a hang tag format, so many times that's consumable. It's a shop floor tool. Someone may tap, get the skew information of that unique item. Let's say it's a sweater, the pricing information. Many times they could tap pay, and they'd be on their way. Once they start wearing whatever that item is, they tear that hang tag, they dispose it. You're pretty much done with the technology in that use case.

Amir Khoshniyati (07:49):

What we had started to see is as we got involved more and more on the front of the supply chain, the NFC tag itself ... I can just show a few form factors we have here, would actually be embedded into the products. If we use a similar use case, let's say what we do with Adidas with the Parley shoe, we were able to embed this into the heel of the shoe. It's a bill of material, starts at the front of the supply chain and as the shoe is being assembled, this tag will be embedded into the shoe. The shoe would be stitched, produced in the manufacturing site and on its way.

Amir Khoshniyati (08:25):

When you look at that use case within retail, as we got more and more involved in the first step of the supply chain, we saw an uptick in that segment. What we're starting to see is outside of just retail, the adoption and the notoriety of NFC is picking up. With that, we're seeing more and more use cases outside of it. For example, fast-moving consumer goods, wine and spirits, many times, because these are consumable products, not only do the consumers want authentication in the first step, but they also want a means to make their life streamlined with that product downstream.

Amir Khoshniyati (09:05):

Once they consume that product, to be able to tap it, whether it's within the packaging or behind the label, and be able to reorder outside of just authenticating and verifying that that product is something safe to consume, that reorder perspective is becoming more and more of a use case and what we're seeing from a lot of the customers today. Fast-moving consumer goods are higher volumes. They require much, much more stringent processes for us to get involved in the supply chain, understand what their process is so we don't walk into a factory and just become a bottleneck trying to apply a tag.

Amir Khoshniyati (09:42):

From our standpoint, what it's done is it's brought us back to the factory level to make sure that we, from an efficiency standpoint, can produce higher volumes of tags, drive the price down, understand how we can get creative around the encoding, make it cloud-based so it's pre-encoded. Then at the same time, firm up our converting capabilities, so if we do want to provide these tags with different forms of labels on them, logos or whatever the case may be, we can do that.

Amir Khoshniyati (10:13):

Then at the same time, the customer that's embedding or applying that tag is getting the best price tag at the highest quality with the highest capabilities. Then we're also getting to know their processes and then be able to embed and apply those tags so that it's a fluid addition to their supply chain. Really ultimately a value chain as it moves down the process for there.

Joe Toste (10:35):

That's really great. There's two areas I wanted to pick up on, on the Adidas Parley shoe. If you talk about the two benefits, I was curious, the two benefits. One is for the company and then the other one's for the end consumer. Could you maybe just unpack specifically with the Adidas Parley because I think that was really fun, I was looking at that online, the benefit for the end consumer having the ability to interact that NFC experience and also for the supplier?

Amir Khoshniyati (11:02):

Sure. Really, that's a great question, Joe, because it's really two buckets here, starting with the brand itself. They get a lot of data points around the consumer. The consumer falls in two categories. One is really the presale consumer and the post-sale. From a presale standpoint, when someone comes up, let's say the shoe is on a rack within the store, they go ahead and they tap that shoe. They'll be able to authenticate it really as a first value step, and then they'll be able to get a marketing experience behind it.

Amir Khoshniyati (11:35):

From a brand standpoint, just looking at it towards the eyes of the consumer or how they're interacting, they don't know who the consumer is first. It gives an opportunity for the brand to showcase some marketing material behind that tap, whether it might be a capture form to offer them a 10, 15, 20% promotion. It might be an opportunity for them to watch a quick YouTube video or something that they can share within their network to get the marketing exposure for that product, being the Parley shoe, in the hands of many of their colleagues and friends.

Amir Khoshniyati (12:13):

Then hopefully that leads to sales for the brand, but it gives the brand an opportunity to try to convert when they don't have necessarily the right horsepower behind the shop floor assistant or whatever it may be pushing the product. As you put more and more campaigns and promotions behind the product itself at the shop floor level, what you're doing is you're increasing the value of the product for the consumer. Then at the same time, over time, you're decreasing the cost of acquiring that customer.

Amir Khoshniyati (12:46):

It overtime becomes a really nice formula where the customer capture rate is much lower, their acquisition rate. Then at the same time, the customer return is much higher because they're engaging with the product even after post-sale. Then you have an opportunity dynamically to promote more marketing material as you know who the customer is, what they've purchased, how long it's been since they purchased it. Let's say it is that shoe. Maybe after six months or a year, sending them the right promotion, because now you have the data insights of what they purchase, where they purchase from, that exact location of the store.

Amir Khoshniyati (13:21):

If they even come within proximity of that store, send them a notification to come in using a coupon, whatever it may be to convert them again. That's really the value from the brand side. Now, from the customer side and consumer side, what you're able to do, you not only have that peace of mind that you've authenticated a product. If you are authenticating that product, you ever want to resell it or put some kind of advertisement behind it that you have a real product, you have that assurance because you can tap and that product has an embedded tag within it.

Amir Khoshniyati (13:56):

It would be able to verify it with a certificate of authenticity every time you tap. Now, outside of that, what you're able to achieve is a lot of marketing promotions for the brand. It might be more promotions around material that might be similar to that. Let's say it's a Parley show, you would be able to get a lot of active wear. Whether it might be headwear or clothing, you would get things that would match that shoe, and dynamically within the seasons, you would be able to see those promotions.

Amir Khoshniyati (14:26):

What we were able to do with that same brand is within the World Cup time, we were able to promote a lot of activities that were happening regionally and then also globally around the World Cup. When people were tapping, for example, the soccer ball that had an embedded tag, we were able to provide information on who around the world was happening. We were able to provide a lot of gamification. If somebody wanted to enter challenges with the ball, they were able to do that. We diverted a little bit away from the Parley experience itself with the shoe.

Amir Khoshniyati (15:00):

Now navigating it over to the soccer ball, what we were able to do with the Telstar, the consumer was able to pick up a lot of value. Again, another digitized product, but a lot of value behind what the consumer can do with that product.

Joe Toste (15:13):

Yeah. I really like that. That's a great bridge. Super cool innovation your team worked on. Very timely on my end as one of our clients actually is building a data-driven soccer assessment facility in Northern California. Super fun. I'm more into basketball, but just seeing the facility and seeing the technology and all that, super fun. Talk about the Telstar 18 NFC soccer ball a little bit more for the audience.

Amir Khoshniyati (15:40):

Sure. The Telstar actually used our Circus Flex tag. It's actually the one I'm holding up here. Very similar format. It was a bill of material. As the balls were being manufactured, it was just another bill of material that went into the ball as it was assembled together. Couple unique things out of that use case that were actually pretty exciting. First of which, we were able to marry all the information on the ball within a factory. There was finite runs as the soccer balls were produced and each match ball had its own skew information for that particular match.

Amir Khoshniyati (16:16):

Then we had different skews for the products that were actually in the stores. Even to this day, if you walk into an Adidas store within the U.S., you'll see the soccer balls are still portrayed in the soccer section of the store. You can take a ball, you can tap it and it will give you a digital experience, not only building from the World Cup a couple of years ago, but also some new information about what's going on in the soccer world. These tags themselves, they were blank tags when they were in bill of material form.

Amir Khoshniyati (16:47):

Building back on that digital transformation theme that we really have around this call. We were able to take these tags, take all the skew information via barcode, marry it into the tag itself within the factory, and then give that soccer ball, each unique ball, basically three components that's built into the digital certificate each time you tap the ball. The first of which is the product ID, which was built upon the skew information of the ball. The second is the timestamp with the month and the year of when that ball was produced in the factory.

Amir Khoshniyati (17:22):

You will always have that in the ledger and the digital certificate every time it's tapped. The third one really is around the number of times that ball has been engaged with, which is pretty exciting. If you walk into a store and you tap that ball, you might be tap number one, if it was something that was shelved in inventory over the years, or you might be tap 100/200. You have the data points how many times that ball has been engaged with. There's a lot of cool campaigns that are secretive as you hit different milestones with the ball.

Amir Khoshniyati (17:52):

Then you can obviously get a lot of marketing promotions behind that. From a digitization standpoint, a lot of value props. Now what we were able to achieve through this use case, because it was one of the early applications that were really truly a bill of material embedding into a physical product that lived with the product, was we were able to achieve two other things that were high-value items for the brand itself. First of which was the quality of the tag. Being a flex tag, it's short for flexible, we were able to cannon-test these balls.

Amir Khoshniyati (18:25):

We actually took the ball. We cannon-tested it against a cement wall 3000 times to make sure that the tag would stay intact and it would be something that would work within a match setting. Whether it's ricocheting off of a goalpost or being kicked around or in adverse weather conditions, low and high temperatures, the tag would still function. We were able to achieve that and sign off on that from a quality standpoint. Also, we realized really quickly that when a lot of times these bill of materials are sent to the factory, they account for overruns ahead of time.

Amir Khoshniyati (18:58):

Meaning that they send a lot of product material that actually surpasses what is supposed to be built in the factory during that set time. Let's say the run had 6,000 that were within the order and basically the bill of material. Then that 6,000 would be produced and sent through the standard distribution channels. In many cases, because the order size was finite, they would have a bill of material and there would be an overproduction just from a quality standpoint of a thousand or 1500 outside of that original 6,000.

Amir Khoshniyati (19:35):

What would happen is this overrun, they were authentic balls, but they weren't part of that basically work order. Those authentic balls would then be distributed through alternate channels. Many times either the revenue wouldn't be recognized or they'd fall into basically certain scenarios where that ball would be floating around and they weren't sure the traceability standpoint of where it came from, from manufacturing side.

Amir Khoshniyati (20:00):

With NFC tag, we were also able to achieve a degree of factory control that we didn't think about at that time when we were starting that project. If we go back to that example, if the order run was 6,000, we would supply 6,000 NFC tags. Each time you tapped one of those 6,000 original balls, you would get authenticated balls. If there was overrun of a thousand or 1500 extra balls going through different channels, what would happen is they didn't have an NFC tag.

Amir Khoshniyati (20:28):

So although it might be an authentic ball from a factory, it wouldn't be able to be verified and backed by NFC technology. We were able to realize very quickly then which balls were coming from factories and where overruns may occur and have that extra checkpoint for validity.

Joe Toste (20:46):

Yeah. I love that. I think it was on our podcast call I was telling you I'm also a high school basketball coach. I take the next step of when we look at kids, we have a machine that automatically spits out balls to different spots in the floor, which is really great. I would definitely love to get more analytics. I was thinking like the soccer ball or the basketball having the tags in there. It would be great to know how many times certain balls get bounced just from tracking everything, and nowadays we track a lot on these kids.

Joe Toste (21:20):

From a basketball use case, I'm definitely going to be looking out there for anything that comes out in the market related to that. Who knows? Maybe you guys will work on a basketball.

Amir Khoshniyati (21:32):

Yeah. Definitely. I think getting to the point where you can have active intelligence behind that digitized product is definitely a goal that we want to strive towards. When you look at what we do, everything is passive at this point, more or less outside of just temperature and sensor technology. These tags, they don't have a battery. They get powered up from the device that's powering up the antenna, ultimately reading the information from the chip and sending the information back to that device.

Amir Khoshniyati (22:01):

The nice thing is the shelf life is technically forever as long as that product is durable enough to withstand whatever environment it's in. It would be nice to have that data point to then have active reading as the product's moving around.

Joe Toste (22:16):

Yeah. Love it. Okay. Let's move on. Let's talk a little bit more about the power of contactless payments. I know that's a big use case. Talk about the NFC user experience and how it can really be enhanced for the end consumer.

Amir Khoshniyati (22:30):

Well, I guess taking, Joe, a step back here to just understand the ecosystem and where we came from with contactless. We evolved into an era where the iPhone ... And I'm just going to use the iPhone as an example then I'll marry it with the Android devices. When the iPhone 6 was launched, we had the ability to basically start moving towards technology that had contactless payment and many third-party apps came in. They had their mobile wallets. PayPal started to do it, then the Venmos of the world, they all came in afterwards, but Apple opened the door.

Amir Khoshniyati (23:06):

Specifically at that time, the iPhone was the prominent device as Samsung was starting to evolve their devices. Basically mobile payment was introduced to the market. Many times people didn't know what it was. They didn't trust it. Many brands that were using it and they had rewards programs, think of Starbucks, for example, with their Gold Card. They were the prominent drivers for mobile payment.

Amir Khoshniyati (23:33):

Up until about three years ago, Starbucks had more of the mobile pay market than the actual iPhones did, generally just using Apple Pay or using Google Pay on the Android devices or what may be the case. Now, now we're looking at an era where mobile payments are becoming more and more prominent because the use case of really touching currency, touching credit cards, passing them between people is becoming more of an issue because of the pandemic with COVID.

Amir Khoshniyati (24:06):

What is happening is now more and more people are turning to using their devices themselves within payments stations. Even if you go into restaurants, many times they have these handheld receipt printers basically, that total up your tab. They bring it to you and you have the ability to just tap. They'll email you a receipt and you really don't need to touch anything. What we've seen is not only the use case for contactless payment has gone up, but the means and the technology behind supporting it has also increased.

Amir Khoshniyati (24:37):

The phones themselves, they have the ability now, as of about two years ago, to fully function on these without an app. They've gone basically appless when you look at the iPhone market. Then when you look at the Android market, they have always had the ability to be contactless and appless. However, they have the ability to turn on and turn off NFC as you used it. Many times by default settings, NFC would be off so if people went to tap, they would think it wasn't working, but the next iteration of the Android devices had NFC natively built as an on feature.

Amir Khoshniyati (25:14):

If people didn't know about it, regardless if they put their device towards it, it would be able to pick up a read. They would know that their NFC compatibility was on because the setting was natively turned on. Just building on that concept, so that's at the device level. What we're seeing during this pandemic era is that not only the devices themselves or the cards themselves have that capability right now to go contactless. Really chip technology was a driver for security and assurance. You would insert your card.

Amir Khoshniyati (25:47):

It would have about a couple second processing. It would go through the validation in the server, pull the card out and you'd be on your way. What has now rolled out is really the ability to go contactless without actually inserting your card and actually being able to hover it a couple of millimeters over these payment stations and then picking up the card and you'd be on your way. We're seeing the adoption more and more. I'm sure you have as well with whatever credit card you work with or debit card.

Amir Khoshniyati (26:18):

They give you the option to have a new one mailed in, and it has the capability. Just building on this, as more and more people go contactless, there's a direct correlation we're seeing from the brands themselves to actually make a use case to build NFC into their products so that people not only can tap to pay, but also they can tap to get the handful of experiences from a digitization standpoint. Many of them that we went over, the Adidas use cases.

Joe Toste (26:46):

Yeah. That's really great. I think two personal experiences at CES earlier this year, when it was in-person right before COVID struck, I was at a restaurant and yeah, there was a little tablet and you used to see your receipt, place your order. Then you just take out your phone or your Apple Watch and make the payment. You don't have to touch anything, which was ... I normally like the experience of talking with somebody, but at CES, there's like a hundred thousand people there. I don't really want to touch-

Amir Khoshniyati (27:17):

Sure. Yeah.

Joe Toste (27:19):

I don't want to touch the restaurant as much. I mean, there's like thousands of people running through there in Las Vegas I really liked that. Then it's funny. Yeah. NFC has been around for a while. I had some friends when I used to live in Chicago, maybe six/seven years ago. I had a buddy who had an Android phone. He was the only one. He's like, "I have NFC. This is so great. iPhone doesn't even have it. They're lagging behind the times." I'm like, "But no one else is using NFC right now." It's like having a cell phone and you don't ... Like I have a cell phone, you don't have a cell phone.

Joe Toste (27:52):

It's useless. It's basically an iPod. You definitely needed that adoption to pick up. It's coming around. Even this morning I was using it. I got gas at Chevron and used my Apple Card and paid for it, which was great. Okay.

Amir Khoshniyati (28:06):

That's great to hear. Yeah.

Joe Toste (28:08):

Yeah. I was reading about how RFID makes inventory management more efficient. Online retailers like Lululemon and Macy's use RFID technology to track every item across its fleet of stores and fulfillment centers. Talk about how RFID boosts asset management systems.

Amir Khoshniyati (28:26):

Sure. Again, taking a step back here just for the audience to understand really the RFID different tiers that fall within the different wavelengths that ultimately correlate to the read ranges. Our conversation really has been around digitization, Internet of Things and how devices all speak to each other. RFID makes that possible at the highest level. Now, when we go down a couple of different tiers, we get into the technology that drives that. NFC itself is the ability to take these tags, apply them, embed them to products and it only requires a couple millimeters of read range.

Amir Khoshniyati (29:08):

You're pretty much capped at that. Your devices like your phone, some of the other tablets, will be able to pick the tags up, the information from the tags up, and really you'd be on your way there. If you try to extend that readability, let's say to a couple of meters, even multimeters up to about 15 NFC wouldn't be the solution. We'd start to fall into something called RAIN RFID, which is under the ultrahigh frequency wavelength. The way that that works is you actually have industrial-powered readers that would be able to fulfill the tag reading, and then also everything that value prompts outside of that.

Amir Khoshniyati (29:49):

When you look at asset management and you look at track and trace capabilities, you might be able to do it with the tap of a phone, but it becomes very, very tedious as you have multiple products. You move into the fast world of the consumer goods, you become a heavy bottleneck if you have to actually go and you tap every physical item that goes through. When you look at some of these use cases with some of these bigger brands, what we do, really the bulk of the business as a whole from an intelligent label standpoint, we're able to place different types of tags and different form factors onto the products themselves.

Amir Khoshniyati (30:25):

Then whether it's a handheld reader, it's an overhead reader, it could even be a terminal that the products move through, we're able to do track and trace from a ... or basically asset management from a manufacturing standpoint. That track and trace capability flows right through the distribution centers. Even when it gets to the shop floors into some of these brands that you've described, Joe, we're able to have overhead readers you.

Amir Khoshniyati (30:51):

Many times, if you walk into these flagship stores, you will see them and you're able to actually pick up a product, move it around the store and you have that traceability of that product through RAIN RFID. If let's say a product is in the back of the store in an inventory, basically on a shelf, you're able to know you have three of those products in that skew there. If there's ever a shortage on the shelf, if for example, you can't locate something, you're able to pick that up. Maybe someone left it in a dressing room.

Amir Khoshniyati (31:24):

RAIN RFID will help you with the longer distances and in many times they're very high volumes on the engagements and it's a much lower-priced tag because the result of it is really just storing that skew information. Then from there, it's basically a disposable because it's usually living within a hang tag in those department stores.

Joe Toste (31:46):

That's great. No. No. That's really good for the audience. Let's transition to our last question for your team. I'm just curious. Let's talk about the difference between remote and distributed work. How are you handling the new environment? Is it even a new environment for you? What's it looking like right now?

Amir Khoshniyati (32:04):

Well, I think it's got its pros and cons. Obviously the pros are, you have much more time to really spend doing work because we're not traveling. We're at the mercy of being in front of the computer screen all day, so you don't burn time commuting. I think the meetings extend and we have overrun of those. I think productivity is at all-time high and lost time is really not there because we're here and there's nowhere else to go, especially when we were locked down.

Amir Khoshniyati (32:36):

When you look at basically everything else from a consumer standpoint, it's been very difficult because we don't have touch points with our customers and clients the way that we used to. We're hoping that that could turn around and we could start working on very neat projects and creative projects in person. Obviously that has much more productivity. When we look at it from a standpoint of what it's done true to NFC, I think it's a great, great step forward into the adoption of the technology as a whole.

Amir Khoshniyati (33:08):

We're bringing much more awareness into the possibilities of the technology and then at the same time, we're able to take the technology and build upon it with brands. Not only to say, "Hey, go contactless." Not only have you taken a step forward into going contactless, here are the many different marketing add-ons that you can add on once you've digitized your physical products.

Amir Khoshniyati (33:33):

That to us, I think is the biggest, exciting step forward, is the technology and the market size that have been published in many of these reports is actually going to be far larger than what they've predicted, because many people are now transitioning to this technology much quicker because they're seeing that if they don't they're left behind. Because that innovation is not only assisting the step forward into diversifying your products offerings.

Amir Khoshniyati (33:59):

Secondly, it's the ability to offer something that people don't actually have to pick up until they're sure this is what they wanted, authentic-wise, price-wise and whatever the promotional offerings may be downstream as well. Overall, exciting. Just ready to get out there a little bit more from the lockdown.

Joe Toste (34:21):

Yeah. No. I'm with you. I've traveled once since COVID to a buddy's wedding up in Portland and it felt so great to travel again. Although SFO, my layover was just total ghost town. I'd never seen it like that before. Yeah. I'm definitely looking forward to getting back out there. I miss the conferences, miss just connecting with people just when I was traveling so much before and then I just went to zero. Yeah. It's a crazy time. I'd love to wrap up with a question.

Joe Toste (34:52):

There's a podcast that I really love called Invest Like the Best by Patrick O'Shaughnessy, who runs O'Shaughnessy Asset Management. He always asks every guest at the end ... And I really like this, so for season two this is the question I'm asking. What's the nicest thing someone has ever done for you?

Amir Khoshniyati (35:07):

Wow. You took it a different direction, Joe. I didn't [crosstalk 00:35:12].

Joe Toste (35:12):

I know. I got to keep everyone on their toes.

Amir Khoshniyati (35:14):

Yeah. Yeah. I think this happened multiple times, so I'm not going to use just one example here, but I think it's the ability to extend a helping hand, especially in an era where people are getting busier. I'm going to tie it back to technology because I'm a nerd at heart. In an era where people have multiple devices, they're very busy, they're multitasking all the time. I think it's the ability to give a helping hand and give their time. I was very fortunate early in my career that I've had many people that extended a helping hand when it came to mentorship, when it came to taking the time to really develop skills.

Amir Khoshniyati (35:53):

Whatever they may be and provide that. I think that is the most kind. I have four people just always in my mind that were able to do that for me. I think it's made a big difference in my life and I strive to do the same for many others as well. Giving that helping hand, especially in an era where people are busy, I think goes along the way.

Joe Toste (36:16):

I love that. I love that. Okay. Where can people find you? Do you hang out on Twitter, LinkedIn? Where's your spot?

Amir Khoshniyati (36:22):

I'm not really that big on social media, but LinkedIn and then obviously our marcomm channels here. They're really good. If there's questions and inquiries around NFC or RFID in general, we have many experts within the company that are the best in the industry, so we can always assist and provide direction from there.

Joe Toste (36:42):

Awesome. Well, thanks for coming on, Amir. I really appreciate the time.

Amir Khoshniyati (36:44):

Yeah. Thank you for having me.

James (36:46):

If you are interested in seeing what Nagarro, a digital product engineering company that excels at solving complex business challenges through agility and innovation, can do for your company, you can email Joe at Joe.toste. That's T-O-S-T-E@nagarro.com or message Joe on LinkedIn. For all information on Nagarro, checkout nagarro.com. That's N-A-G-A-R-R-O.com. You've been listening to the TechTables podcast. To make sure you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player.

James (37:20):

If you have an iPhone, we'd love for you to open the Apple Podcasts app and leave a quick rating for the show. Just tap the number of stars you think the podcast deserves. To catch more TechTables episodes, you can go to techtablespodcast.com. To learn more about our sponsor, please visit nagarro.com. That's N-A-G-A-R-R-O.com. Of course, you can find Joe Toste, your podcast host on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Joe's last name is T-O-S-T-E. Thanks for listening.

Joe Toste
Joe Toste
Host of TechTables Podcast

Host of TechTables 🎙- Conversations with Top Technology Leaders