Why It’s Time for Security Integrators to Embrace Biometrics for Access Control Applications

Integrators have an opportunity to add customers and revenue by opting for biometrics instead of cards and other less effective access technologies.

Biometrics has grown into a $26 billion industry, according to ABI Research. This rising electronic security star is driven by an expanding set of business and consumer applications, and realization that biometrics – iris recognition and multimodal biometrics in particular – delivers superior accuracy and performance relative to other forms of access control.

To date, however, security integrators have eyed biometrics somewhat cautiously due to a number of factors. First, biometrics could not be offered at a price point that made it accessible to the mass market, which turned off some integrators because it meant that biometrics use cases (and revenue opportunities) were limited to protecting an organization’s most sensitive access points such as critical data, inventory and financial assets.

Second, traditional biometrics solutions typically forced end users to choose between either ease of use or high levels of security. It was assumed that organizations could not have both, which dampened the interest of end users to purchase biometrics and integrators to offer it. Finally, integrators heard about suboptimal experiences with earlier fingerprint and iris readers or more invasive forms of biometrics such as retinal scanners, and assumed this would be the case with any form of biometrics.

Some of these perceptions were off the mark, while others had validity. Regardless, the end result is that many integrators avoided biometrics in favor of sticking with cards, key badges and electronic locks – despite the fact that these alternatives were proving increasingly costly for businesses to maintain and inferior from a security perspective. But as impediments to adoption fade (prices come down, functionality and features improve, and biometrics becomes inherently mobile and delivers benefits beyond access control), integrators have a significant opportunity to increase customers and revenues.

RELATED: Biometrics: Increased Security Now Comes With Greater Convenience

Many integrators avoided biometrics in favor of sticking with cards, key badges and electronic locks – despite the fact that these alternatives were proving increasingly costly for businesses to maintain and inferior from a security perspective. 

This opportunity is especially ripe because end users that control physical access with card readers are growing weary of spending tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on new and replaced employee access cards – a recurring investment that does not add any incremental improvement in security year-over-year. In addition to declining total cost of ownership (TCO), there are three key developments that offer a strong opening for integrators to approach existing customers about upgrading their existing security solution to biometrics.

New Form Factors Expand Use Cases

The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming countless market segments, and security is no exception. As cost points go down and ease of use improves, biometrics offers a significant business opportunity for integrators now able to extend beyond traditional, high-end use cases – securing an organization’s most sensitive access points (protecting money, inventory, data, etc.) – to widespread usage across the enterprise.

The latest generation of biometric products is following the trajectory of the cellphone evolution from a single-purpose device to today’s multifunction smartphone. One of the more compelling developments is biometrics-embedded mobile devices, which is spreading adoption for mass-market applications such as bank account access and mobile payments, personalized health care and residential security.

Iris biometric-embedded tablets, for instance, combine the accuracy and convenience of iris recognition with the functionality and customization of a mobile computing platform. This accelerates the shift of employee and user access control from passwords (weak) to iris recognition (strong), while ensuring an individual is accessing information over a business’ network that only they are entitled to see. Tablets also provide the mobility and flexibility so that one device can support multiple workflows including physical access control, time and attendance, inventory control, company messaging as well as additional customizable applications.

Physical & Logical Access Converging

Mobile biometrics is also unlocking integrator opportunities to provide customers a converged physical and logical access control solution that can deliver a set of revenue opportunities not possible with alternative forms of access control.

The approach is straightforward. One device should support multiple applications. If someone’s biometrics can open a door or raise a gate, why can’t it also instantly connect them to other business management tools? Today’s biometric computing platforms make this possible – seamlessly integrating physical and logical access control based on individual identity. Now the same device that authenticates an employee for access can deliver real-time information and communications, trigger rule-based automation processes and open up two-way communications across departments and tasks.

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The ability to push information out to the edge based on the individual’s access level, location and other factors is a powerful capability. Personalized employee access and information across all devices and interfaces (access points, laptops, tablets, smartphones) not only improves security, but also enables the organization to integrate biometrics into a broader operational system. The result is greater efficiency, tighter security, lower costs and improved productivity.

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