What’s In a Name: Xterprise Becomes SML IIS

“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” –W.C. Fields

When Dean Frew started his company in 2002, he knew he was onto something big. The ability of RFID to count vast amounts of product rapidly and with unprecedented accuracy had the potential to revolutionize the way hospitals operated, heavy vehicles and machinery were manufactured, valuable items were accounted for, and businesses were run. He had the product, the vision, and the know-how to make it happen. He just needed a name.

Dean pored through name after name, only to find that they were taken (this was the beginning of the era of domain name squatting, after all). He knew he needed something that evoked sleek technology suitable for the large enterprise, and due to a combination of the name and domain actually being available and its spelling and pronunciation evoking enterprise aspirations, Xterprise was born – the ‘X’ representing the unknown-at-the-time, seemingly limitless transformation RFID would bring to industry.

Fast forward 13 years. Xterprise has grown, survived the boom-and-bust nature of disruptive technologies and economic cycles, focused on the retail apparel industry, proudly won some of the most prestigious, complex, and largest deals in item-level RFID, and was ultimately acquired in the summer of 2013 by SML Group, the world’s second largest manufacturer of RFID tags for apparel.

Joining SML

As a member of SML Group, Xterprise thrived even more, though operating as a separate entity. The mysterious potential of RFID represented by the ‘X’ in its name was fast becoming a known quantity: the technology was indeed transforming industries, retail first among them, and its value was no longer an X-factor. Xterprise was no longer in the position of having to convince customers that RFID was a worthwhile technology that was here to stay – it was now the leader in its field, composed of experts who had consciously made the decision to excel by understanding the apparel retail industry and its strengths, weaknesses, operations and processes, and then building solutions that used this hard-won knowledge to the benefit of its customers. At the same time, the operational, sales, and R&D processes of SML and Xterprise became increasingly intertwined, leveraging one another’s strengths to better meet market needs.

What began as two very different companies from two very different industries had come together to form something greater than either individual component could have been on its own, with an even more powerful vision than either company was capable of achieving by itself.

Together, SML and Xterprise would reshape not only the technology and available benefits of RFID, but even the commercial offering, in ways no one else could. As one company, Xterprise and SML would continue leveraging deep industry expertise to create innovative solutions that focused on the things retail customers cared about most, down to eliminating the smallest wasted procedure, creating solutions that are as easy and enjoyable to use as they are technologically innovative and muscular.

Realizing this, it became obvious that it was time for a name change.  Customers and prospects alike needed to know what they were getting: the benefit of two enormously experienced companies in the RFID space, rolled into one. A solution with the ability to touch their operations at all points in the supply chain, in a more convenient and efficient way than anything else. Leaders who helped make the RFID market what it is today, and who were determined to innovate not just for the sake of innovation, but with an intelligent focus on the things that would make the biggest difference for customers.

Today marks the turning of a corner – the taking of something with strong and powerful roots and history, something that has earned the right to survive through the trials of time, and making it new.  Today, Xterprise becomes:

sml iis

So, what’s different about SML IIS?

The new name will allow SML Intelligent Inventory Solutions to more clearly communicate to customers the kind of value it can bring as part of SML. In addition to just changing the name, the companies are reorganizing to better align internally with their mission to transform customers’ inventory management through RFID solutions that can boost sales, drive down inventory levels, reduce costs, and help companies better interact with their shoppers. Roles and responsibilities will be shared within the organization to make sure that the best possible offering is crafted for retailers seeking to implement item-level RFID.

Under the new company, several major innovations are slated to launch in the first half of 2015, including mobile-ready inventory management applications and a new version of Clarity® that will make retailers believe SML has been reading their minds (hint: it has). Make sure to sign up for the SML IIS newsletter if you want to keep up to speed on these launches as they occur.

And what’s the same?

What hasn’t changed through the renaming is the core strength that has made Xterprise – and now SML Intelligent Inventory Solutions (SML IIS) – what it is today: namely, a deep dedication to living in its customer’s world, to understanding their pain points, processes, and challenges, and then to design solutions that address exactly those things. Working with SML IIS has been described as buying a great product that comes with a heaping serving of retail process expertise built in.

When Dean started the company out of his home in 2002, he knew the transformation item-level RFID offered wasn’t just about the product – it was as much or more about how you used the product, how you rolled it out, how you trained people, and what you tried to do with it – along with how you tried to do it. The company was built around the understanding that it didn’t just sell technology – it sold a new way of enabling business to operate through better processes. More than anything else, SML IIS will continue innovating and designing products that enable retailers to operate on their terms, utilizing their strengths, empowering their employees and ultimately letting the technology fade out of the way so that new and better ways of interacting with and learning from a retailer’s customers can emerge.

Because at the end of the day, while we’re very proud of what we’ve done as Xterprise, and even more excited about what we’ll do as SML Intelligent Inventory Solutions, our name won’t matter as much as the retailers we’ve served.