What Can The Itsy Bitsy Spider Teach Us About Biometrics?


The Nursery Rhyme and its Application to Biometrics

Most of us are probably familiar with the popular nursery rhyme “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”  It goes like this:

The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout.
Down came the rain, and washed the spider out.
Up came the sun, and dried up all the rain,
and the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

Wow.  That is one resilient spider and it got us thinking…this spider reminds us a lot of biometric technology.

As biometrics for identification has evolved from forensics into government and enterprise applications, there have been growing pains along the way.  Fingerprint technology was the first “spider” modality to hit the mainstream and as it climbed the biometric “water (aka market) spout” end users realized that it had certain limitations.  For example, environmental conditions and fingerprint integrity limited its ability to identify a certain percentage of the population and as a result, end users began to seek a biometric modality that would identify 100% of their demographic.  The “rain” of dirt, grease, grime, cuts, scrapes, scars, age, ethnicity and other conditions washed out the fingerprint spider as not a one-size-fits-all solution.  However, it still had plenty of applicability and started to re-climb the biometric market spout.

Out came the vascular “sun” and dried up all of the issues that plagued fingerprint technology to allow the finger vein and palm vein spiders (albeit different spiders, but biometric spiders nonetheless) to start climbing the biometric market spout alongside the fingerprint spider.  Thus far, the weather has been quite sunny and there is no rain in the forecast to fall and wash the vascular spiders to the ground.  Vascular biometrics is enjoying a surge in end user adoption demonstrating a high tolerance for skin surface problems such as dryness, roughness, moisture or scarring.

Note – There are other biometric spiders currently crawling up the water spout such as iris, retina, voice, hand geometry and facial recognition, but they have not quite been as widely accepted for commercial adoption.

Biometrics and Resiliency

Just like the itsy bitsy spider, biometrics has proven to be very resilient.  As biometric performance and technology adapts to market conditions through refinements, enhancements and modifications it continues to demonstrate diverse applicability and post significant returns on investment.  From workforce management, healthcare, retail point of sale, public safety, and membership management, biometrics continues to grow and the forecast is a continued ascent through many global government and commercial applications.

Let’s rewrite one of our favorite nursery rhymes for the biometric industry:

The itsy bitsy biometric spider went up the market spout.
Down came conditions, and washed the spider out.
Up came refinements, to solve the problems,
and the itsy bitsy biometric spider went up the market spout again.

Can you think of a nursery rhyme and its theme that could also apply to biometrics?  Please share it with us in the comments below.

 

Eliminate The Hassles Of ID Cards And PIN Codes With Biometric Identification Solutions

Please enjoy this guest blog post from our Partner, Horizon Software.  Horizon Software International is an innovative global leader in software, services and technologies for food service operations. The company, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner headquartered near Atlanta, GA, offers comprehensive food service solutions including Point of Service (POS), inventory management, menu planning, procurement, production, digital signage, temperature management, integrated vending, and more.

This post was written by Amy Huff, SNS, Vice President, Marketing at Horizon Software.

Many schools are realizing that biometric identification is no longer a high-tech futuristic concept and that it can significantly increase serving line speeds in the cafeteria.  Biometrics is a practical and affordable method of identification, removing the drawbacks associated with forgotten PINs, lost cards, and the potential for misuse due to bullying and other factors.

There are significant benefits to using biometrics for student identification:

Improve efficiency – Serving line speeds improve significantly when using biometrics rather than traditional identification methods. With biometrics, schools are able to avoid backed-up lunch lines due to misplaced cards or forgotten PIN codes.  One school system tested PIN pads versus biometrics and found that biometric identification was two minutes faster per 100 transactions.  With school cafeteria lines processing hundreds or thousands of students, those minutes really add up and make a difference in overall line speed.

Save time and money – A school’s staff no longer has to spend valuable time reissuing PIN codes and replacing forgotten, lost or stolen swipe cards.  And, it’s not just time they are saving; schools also no longer have the cost of producing the cards.

Boost security and protect privacy – Unlike ID cards and PINs, students cannot steal another student’s biometric template to gain access to another student’s account.

With all these benefits, why aren’t all districts using biometric technology?  The answer is that the biggest obstacle to using biometric technology is the misconception parents have in regard to what biometric technology is.

The misconception that students are being fingerprinted often hinders the adoption of this form of identification.  It is important to convey to school districts that particular care has been taken to ensure personal privacy.  Fingerprint images are NOT stored and the data is stored in a proprietary format, using secure encryption.

Instead of storing fingerprint images, the system stores only templates that are a numeric representation of the individual fingerprint.  Templates can be used for matching, but the actual fingerprint cannot be reconstructed.  Schools can rest assured that fingerprints are not stored anywhere and fingerprints cannot be recreated from the encrypted digital templates.

Beyond conveying this to school districts, it is even more important that the school districts communicate to parents when implementing biometric solutions.  Once they realize their children are not being fingerprinted and that this technology makes it very difficult for another student to gain access to another’s meal account, it is easy for them to see the benefits.

Fingerprint recognition is becoming the recommended method for education environments in secondary schools because it is reliable, cost-effective, easy to use, and secure.

 

What Does The Recent Unrest In The Middle East/Northern Africa And Biometric Technology Have In Common?

 

Suppression Of A Society Will Take Its Toll

Unless you have been living under the proverbial rock recently, chances are you caught wind of the unrest, protests and civic rebellions that are sweeping across the Middle East and Northern Africa.  First it was Tunisia then Egypt followed by Bahrain and now Libya.  Countries that are fed up with oppression  and living under the rule of dictatorships, oligarchies and autocratic rule are rising up and defying government power in an effort to force change, modernize their economies and provide citizens with a voice in their society.

For these countries and others crying out for change, demanding reform and putting the wheels in motion to make it happen it can be a frightening and anxious experience knowing that the actions they are taking are necessary and will pay tremendous dividends in the future but the short term implications can be difficult adjustments and fraught with uncertainty.  However, these rebellions have been years in the making and whispered about clandestinely in social circles for many years.  Revolt in Tunisia seemed to be the tipping point for the rest of these countries to follow suit and summon the courage to act themselves against their tyrannical regimes.

The Current And Future State Of Biometric Technology

The unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa got us thinking about parallels that we can draw from these events to the biometric technology market.  Modern biometric technology applications are revolutionary scientific breakthroughs in identification technology, with the ability to accurately identify an individual that is unsurpassed by any other identification technology on the market.  It is currently being used in some capacity by countries all over the globe through a wide variety of governmental and commercial deployments.

From border security, workforce management, membership management, retail point of sale, public safety, healthcare to banking – biometrics is slowly permeating our lives to boost security, create efficiencies, improve productivity and save money (among many other benefits for applicable vertical markets).  However, in certain countries it is being rejected and questioned on the grounds that it violates individual privacy rights and the validity of capturing and storing biometric identification characteristics of an individual without any plausible governmental data collection guidelines and laws in place.

These are valid arguments and ones that should be debated and resolved for biometrics to be more readily accepted.  However, these issues will not stop biometric technology from being the steam engine of future secure individual identification.  It is inevitable that biometrics will become more widely adopted and replace identification technologies such as barcode cards, personal identification numbers (PINs) and RFID technology.  There simply is no other technology that is neither comparable nor as convenient as biometrics.

The Connection

Just as the citizens of countries spread out across the Middle East and Northern Africa are rebelling for change and a better way of life, businesses are using biometric technology to halt unscrupulous practices that are draining their profits and polluting their environments.  Countries and companies across the globe are putting their foot down and saying , “Enough!”  They are tired of seeing things like fraud, time theft, shrink and buddy punching sap their profits.  They are seeking technological competitive advantages to increase operational efficiencies, establish accountability, build customer loyalty and achieve higher returns on investment in infrastructure.  Businesses and governments are abandoning the old ways of identification, those archaic and administrative intensive Stone Age methodologies and beginning to adopt modern technologies that offer far more benefits.

While we could never understate the importance and impact of the events that are unfolding in the Middle East and Northern Africa, we can draw some interesting comparisons to the present state and  how the future of biometric technology will unfold.

What do you think?  Are there some similarities you can draw from the unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa that you can compare to your market?

Calling All Retailers – Please Take Our True/False Quiz

The M2SYS Technology True/False Quiz part deux.  I’m sure our loyal readers have been on the edge of their seats since our first True/False Quiz post – 5 months ago.  Yes, the Rip Van Winkle of blog posts series has finally awakened. Here is a link to the quiz – http://apps.facebook.com/fanappz/quiz/take?id=5132

So how did you do?  If you are here at our blog that means you clicked on the link to learn more details on why a question was true or false.  If you are visiting our blog first – then please click on the link above for the quiz, then come back and see the detailed answers below.  No cheating by looking at the answers before taking the quiz!!

Here are the detailed answers to the questions:

1.  Finger vein and palm vein are too expensive as an alternative to fingerprint technology.

Answer – False

Finger vein and palm vein technology are referred to as “vascular biometrics” which relies on capturing an image of the vein pattern beneath the finger or palm with near infrared light and using that image as the basis for individual identification.  Unlike fingerprint technology, integrity of the skin is not an issue with vascular biometrics.  In addition, vascular biometrics is definitely an affordable alternative to fingerprint.

2.  Using biometric technology can help save the environment.

Answer – True

Each year, Americans waste enough paper to build a 12-foot wall of paper from New York to California.  One way to reduce the amount of paper used in a business is to switch from antiquated paper and pen time and attendance techniques to biometric based desktop time and attendance software. Another way you can use biometrics to help the environment is by switching from plastic membership cards to a biometric check in system.

3.  Indonesia is currently using biometric technology to curb violence in bars and nightclubs.

Answer – False

It’s actually Australia.  Ok, so this question is not so retailish but pertinent nonetheless.  Australia is currently launching an ambitious public safety program where bars and nightclubs can opt into a biometric identification initiative that requires all patrons to submit their fingerprint in order to gain entry to the establishment.  So far, it’s received positive reviews.

4.  It is possible to achieve a 300% ROI (return on investment) during the 1st year of using biometric technology.

Answer – True

One of our end users actually achieved a 300% return on investment during the first year they used biometric technology for time and attendance! Cal Poly Pomona uses M2SYS biometric technology with its KRONOS time and attendance software which has eliminated buddy punching, boosted staff productivity and decreased backlogs.

5.  Biometric technology can help a retailer with PCI Compliance.

Answer – True

Biometric technology offers merchants an opportunity to incorporate a level of authentication security that is unsurpassed in the industry.  Biometrics relies on physiological characteristics (fingerprint, finger vein, palm vein, iris recognition, etc.) to identify an individual’s identity rather than something you know (personal identification number or PIN) or something you have (credit or debit card).  Due to the fact that anyone can steal your credit or debit card and obtain your PIN for fraudulent transactions, biometric technology is the only true way to identify someone with near absolute certainty.

6.  Using biometric technology can enhance customer loyalty.

Answer – True

Instituting a biometric identification system, especially in a retail environment, builds customer loyalty.  To help combat fraud, biometrics is used as part of an overarching plan that helps keeps prices low and customers happy.

7.  Biometric technology is about as secure as barcode cards and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs).

Answer – False

Biometric technology is much more secure than barcode cards and personal identification numbers.  Read this post and you be the judge.

8.  Buddy punching can equate to 2 – 5% of total expenditures.

Answer – True

Don’t believe us?  Check out our dedicated web page on eliminating buddy punching and plug the numbers to see for yourself.

9.  Loss prevention in the retail sector is a good application of biometric technology.

Answer – True

The simple fact is that employees steal from businesses.  The numbers speak for themselves – employee dishonesty costs American business in excess of $50 billion annually and 20% of every dollar earned by a U.S. company is lost to employee theft.  Biometrics can help to curb this by eliminating the swapping of barcode cards and PIN’s and securing access to authorized only areas of a retail establishment.

10. Capturing an individual’s biometric information is tantamount to a violation of their privacy.

Answer – False

Biometric identity enrollment templates stored on a server or computers are not actually images at all.  They are a mathematical representation of the data points that a biometric algorithm extracts from the scanned fingerprintfinger veinpalm vein or iris.  The identity template is simply a binary data file, a series of zeros and ones.  The algorithm then uses the template to positively identify an individual during subsequent fingerprint scans.  No image is ever stored or transmitted across a network.

To the credit of those that fear privacy invasion, the real fear is that mass quantities of biometric information can be captured at once from hacking into a private industry biometrics system.  In addition, they fear the idea that biometric information cannot be changed if compromised, unlike something like a social security or bank account number.  We feel that this is a valid point, and one that’s difficult to refute however all biometric data is stored using the AES 128 bit encryption algorithm.

Hope you enjoyed installment #2 of our “Biometric True/False Quiz Questions” series.  More future quizzes to come…

Top 5 Questions & Answers To Review Before You Invest In Biometric Technology

All rights reserved by Doug Caldwell

Biometric identification technology is taking the world by storm.  Increasingly, governments and businesses are entrusting identification of individuals through biometrics for safety, security and efficiency because of the technology’s unique ability to rely on physiological characteristics (who you are) instead of barcode cards, personal identification numbers (what you have) or security questions (what you know).

For those who know or recently learned about biometric technology and are contemplating it for their own needs, there are many different biometric systems (the software that stores the information, identifies the individual and powers the hardware) and modalities (the hardware itself – fingerprint readers, finger vein readers, palm vein readers, iris readers, etc.) to consider before investing.  It is important to educate yourself on biometric functionality so the software and hardware that you invest in best suits your requirements.

Here are 5 questions and answers to review before you invest in biometric technology:

Question #1 – Will fingerprint biometrics work in all types of environments for all types of users?

Typically, when you hear the term “biometrics” most minds are drawn to fingerprint biometric technology.  Although fingerprint biometric technology is excellent and works well in many environments, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution and may present problems when used under certain conditions.  For example, if you are using biometric technology for time and attendance and your employees work with chemicals, abrasives, tools or machinery, their fingerprint integrity may be low and could present problems with fingerprint identification.  Cuts, bruises, scrapes, dirt, grime and grease can all have an effect on the ability to properly scan a fingerprint.

Perhaps  you live in a cold climate.  Did you know that climate can have an effect on the ability to properly capture a fingerprint?  Cold weather causes skin to dry up and this can also present problems capturing a quality scan on a fingerprint reader.

Age can also be a factor.  Research has shown that as we get older, our skin becomes more elastic.  Skin elasticity has a direct effect on fingerprint integrity so if your workforce or population using biometrics is older, you may want to think twice about using fingerprint technology.

Question #2 – What is “vascular” biometrics and how is it different from fingerprint technology?

Vascular biometric technology does not rely on fingerprints for identification purposes.  Rather, it relies on capturing an image of the vein pattern beneath the finger or skin and using that image as the basis for individual identification.  Unlike fingerprint technology, the integrity of the skin is not an issue with vascular biometrics.  By using near infrared light to capture a finger vein or palm vein pattern beneath the skin surface to identify an individual, vascular biometrics bypasses the need to have quality fingerprints in order to successfully use a biometric identification system for 100% of your population and allows end users to use biometrics in environments that otherwise are not conducive to fingerprint technology.

In addition, vascular biometrics is an affordable alternative to fingerprint technology and provides lower false reject rates.

Question #3 – Does investing in biometric technology require winning the lottery before I purchase a system?

One of the most common misunderstandings of biometric technology is that because it is perceived as a space aged technology that was once exclusive to Sci-Fi movies (see this list of movies), it costs way too much to be considered a practical solution for modern business deployments.

The truth is that biometrics is very affordable and even though it may be a slightly more expensive initial investment when stacked against other identification technologies (barcoding, PIN’s, etc.), the long term return on investment (ROI) generally trumps any other option.  It’s important to remember that investing in technology for any purpose should always be viewed through the prism of ROI – meaning, what you can achieve in the long term is usually more beneficial and should always be weighed more heavily than the short term.

Question #4 – Do biometric technologies violate an individual’s right to privacy?

There are many misconceptions about biometric technology swirling around in the news today that make it tough to discern the truth about whether or not using biometrics violates individual privacy.  The bottom line is that many of these stories circulating through mainstream media, grass roots organizations, watchdog groups and institutions designed to inform the public do not understand how biometric technology really works.  It’s unfortunate that these misconceptions are perpetuated by outlets that do not take the time to properly research biometric technology because it has a detrimental effect on the ability for biometrics to help businesses increase security, save money, cut down on resources consumed, boost productivity and improve efficiency (just to name a few).

I encourage you to visit this blog post we wrote last week that describes in detail how biometrics does not violate or jeopardize an individual’s privacy.

Question #5 – What are some good places to educate myself on biometrics and learn more about this technology before I make a purchase?

There are many viable biometric technology resources to educate yourself before deciding whether or not to purchase the hardware and software for their business.  Here are the names and links to a few:

  • www.findBiometrics.com – considered one of the top Biometric Industry resources
  • www.planetbiometrics.com – also an excellent Industry Resource with an international flair
  • (Shameless self promotion) www.m2sys.com: Chock full of information, case studies and blog posts that cover the broad scope of biometric technology

Have you discovered other biometric resources that are helpful to learn more?  Please share them with us in the comments below.

The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology In Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale – Reason #13 – PCI Compliance

Blog Series – “The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology In Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale”

Leading up to our participation in the National Retail Federation’s 2011 “Retail’s Big Show” from January 9 – 12 in New York city, M2SYS Technology is publishing a blog series on the top 15 reasons that biometrics is a smart choice for retail organizations to consider as an authentication technology in workforce management and retail point of sale applications.

In case you missed it, here are the links to our prior posts in the series:

Reason #1 – Stop Buddy Punching
Reason #2 – Increase Productivity
Reason #3 – Enhance Loss Prevention
Reason #4 – Establish Accountability
Reason #5 – Going Green
Reason #6 – Build Customer Loyalty
Reason #7 – Achieve Higher Return On Investment
Reason #8 – Airtight Access Control
Reason #9 – Solidify Role Based Security
Reason #10 – Boost Operational Efficiency
Reason #11 – Peace Of Mind
Reason #12 – Increase Speed

 

And now on to our next post…

Reason #13 – PCI Compliance

Personal Card Industry (PCI) Compliance

PCI Compliance requires any merchant (no matter how big or small or regardless of the number of transactions) that accepts, transmits or stores customer credit card data to maintain a secure environment.  The PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of requirements designed to help businesses understand how to maintain a secure environment and the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) is an organization that was founded to manage the ongoing evolution of the PCI security standards with focus on improving payment account security throughout the transaction process.  Created by the major payment card brands (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and JCB) PCI SSC is responsible for administering and managing the PCI DSS requirements but the payment brands are ultimately responsible for enforcing compliance.

Merchants are grouped into “levels” based on their credit card volume over a one year period.  In order to satisfy the PCI requirements, merchants must follow a series of steps which entail classification of validation type, completion of a self-assessment questionnaire, completion and collection of evidence for a passing vulnerability scan with a PCI SSC Approved Vendor, completion of the relevant Attestation of Compliance and submission of the information to the merchant’s acquirer.  Whew, did you get all that?  For a complete list of requirements, visit the PSI SSC FAQ section of their Web site here which details parameters of PCI compliance and provides a wealth of information on the rules, regulations and resources available to merchants.

Biometric Technology Offers Unsurpassed Security

In a September 2009 Banking Information Security Blog Post, Mike D’Agostino pondered what would happen if eventually biometric technology became the payment channel industry standard, replacing plastic credit and debit cards.  He argues that:

The issue is that PCI Compliance addresses security implications not completely reliant on payment cards. Building and installing firewalls, encrypting data in transmission, tracking and monitoring network resources…these are all things that ANY operation dealing with sensitive data should be practicing, not just those dealing with payment card data.”

He goes on to say that the future of PCI Compliance must include a discussion of a time when plastic credit cards are no longer the standard protocol for authenticating and performing transactions.  Furthermore, instead of focusing on payment card data security, the industry should instead be focusing on data security at an aggregate level, an area where many businesses are weak and need to  invest in modernized technologies such as biometrics to strengthen their overall security.

As we have been stressing in this blog series, biometric technology offers merchants an opportunity to incorporate a level of authentication security that is unsurpassed in the industry.  Biometrics relies on physiological characteristics (fingerprint, finger vein, palm vein, iris recognition, etc.) to identify an individual’s identity rather than something you know (personal identification number or PIN) or something you have (credit or debit card).  Due to the fact that anyone can steal your credit or debit card and obtain your PIN for fraudulent transactions, biometric technology is the only true way to identify someone with near absolute certainty.  It is virtually impossible to steal a biometric characteristic to use fraudulently and there is no other authentication technology on the market that can claim to offer the level of security than biometrics.  This is why the future of bulletproof transactional authentication is tied to widespread adoption of biometrics and with the modern flexibility that the technology offers, biometric systems can be tailored and customized to fit with just about any merchant’s unique needs.

Test The Waters Of Biometric Technology Risk Free

You may be wondering if biometrics is the right fit for you but worry that an investment in biometrics would necessitate a risky, large capital investment.  The good news is that you can test drive a biometric identification system for workforce management or retail point of service environments on a 30 day free software trial with M2SYS Technology by making a small investment in the biometric hardware.  This allows you to obtain the biometric system, implement it and test it out before paying for the software component.  We want to ensure that you are comfortable with the system and understand its capabilities before you permanently adopt it for your business.

If you would like to explore the option of implementing a biometric identification system for your business, please contact us for more details and a free price quote.

Have you struggled with PCI Compliance?  What are some of the specific challenges you have faced?  Share your stories in our comments section.

The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology In Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale – Reason #12 – Increase Speed

Blog Series – “The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology In Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale”

Leading up to our participation in the National Retail Federation’s 2011 “Retail’s Big Show” from January 9 – 12 in New York city, M2SYS Technology is publishing a blog series on the top 15 reasons that biometrics is a smart choice for retail organizations to consider as an authentication technology in workforce management and retail point of sale applications.

In case you missed it, here are the links to our prior posts in the series:

Reason #1 – Stop Buddy Punching
Reason #2 – Increase Productivity
Reason #3 – Enhance Loss Prevention
Reason #4 – Establish Accountability
Reason #5 – Going Green
Reason #6 – Build Customer Loyalty
Reason #7 – Achieve Higher Return On Investment
Reason #8 – Airtight Access Control
Reason #9 – Solidify Role Based Security
Reason #10 – Boost Operational Efficiency
Reason #11 – Peace Of Mind
And now on to our next post…

Reason #12 – Increase Speed

Defining The Optimal Business Environment

Ask any business owner how important it is to achieve an optimal flow for their business and most will tell you that it’s a goal, but often times hard to achieve.  When everything works in sync and processes run without a hitch, optimizing staff time and enabling them to focus on their core responsibilities becomes easier and pays dividends for you and for your customers.  In the real world however, there are bound to be technological and communicative breakdowns and snafus that cause delays and leave a business owner feeling frustrated and searching for alternatives.

The goal for most is to offer a customer experience that hinges on the delicate balance of quality products/services at fair prices with superior customer service.  Often times, technology employed in a business limits the ability of staff to deliver on these tenets and counteracts the objectives set forth by a business owner to maximize their profits and create loyal customers.  Business owners invest in technology for the purpose of creating efficiencies, establishing accuracy and generating a concrete audit trail.

It’s no wonder then that many business owners seek out technologies that are reliable and offer speed as a key attribute to maintain a consistent operational flow.  Speed can mean a number of things from turning tables at a restaurant, to keeping the lines moving at a retail establishment, to ensuring that employees are not constantly mired in troubleshooting which may have a detrimental effect on their ability to offer superior service.

Speed Is Key

When a business owner is thinking about investing in technology as part of their internal infrastructure thoughts often turn to what will bring the highest value while offering the strongest return on investment. They want to employ a technology that not only works smoothly, but works quickly without any margin for error.  Take employee time and attendance for example.  Many businesses that rely on antiquated punch clocks or manual sign in sheets run many risks of creating backlogs, errors and delays which can disrupt the flow needed to keep employees productive and focused on their responsibilities.

We offer a prime example of this by identifying a current end user of biometric technology who had previously relied on paper timesheets to keep track of employee time and attendance.  Here is a brief excerpt from one of our recent case studies that highlights some of the challenges that their outdated technology presented:

“Yarco’s employees were manually recording their time in and time out on paper timesheets. Their Payroll
department would then have to collect these paper time sheets from each of the 100+ properties across the
company and manually transfer the data to Excel spreadsheets. The entire process was extremely time consuming,
often taking the Payroll department an entire weekend just to input the data and reconcile any discrepancies.
Furthermore, the handwritten and faxed timesheets were often hard to read; there was no review and approval
process in place – the timesheets were assumed to be legitimate. Yarco realized that a change was in order to a
more modern, technologically advanced payroll system that not only automated the time and attendance process,
but also held employees accountable for accurate time tracking.”

Clearly, the paper timesheets were creating inefficiencies that caused more work than necessary to process and reconcile payroll.  The company decided to implement biometric finger vein technology for time and attendance which transformed their payroll process from a multi-step, time consuming unsecure system into a quick, efficient and accurate payroll system.  Here is another excerpt from the case study which details the after effects of incorporating time and attendance for payroll processing:

“The most tangible benefit realized since implementing the biometric time and attendance system using vascular
biometric technology is drastic increases in efficiency. In fact, Yarco has seen a 90% efficiency increase when you
compare their old manual payroll system to the new automated process. A large part of the efficiency comes
through time saved from not having to manually enter the payroll sheets into Excel for export to the payroll
processing interface. This has allowed Yarco to cut their Payroll department in half and allocate more time to other
HR functions
.”

The Versatility And Speed Of Biometric Technology

From time and attendance to recording point of sale transactions to establishing substantial security checks and balances, biometrics is becoming the technology of choice.  Its unique ability to combine unequivocal identification accuracy with rapid results makes biometrics a one-of-a-kind technology.

Fingerprint biometric system verification speeds can search 20,000 records per second.  Finger vein and palm vein biometric systems have the ability to scan 4,000 records per second.  Biometric systems are inherently designed to offer fast matching speeds to deliver accurate results at a rapid pace to help maximize flow and minimize delays.  It’s also important to remember that biometric systems can be customized to match the characteristics of end users based on factors such as age, ethnicity and environment.  If you are unsure of which biometric system is the right fit for your business, please contact us and we can help.

What other processes in your business could be augmented by a boost of speed?  Share your thoughts and comments with us below.

The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology In Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale – Reason #11 – Peace Of Mind

Blog Series – “The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology In Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale”

Leading up to our participation in the National Retail Federation’s 2011 “Retail’s Big Show” from January 9 – 12 in New York city, M2SYS Technology is publishing a blog series on the top 15 reasons that biometrics is a smart choice for retail organizations to consider as an authentication technology in workforce management and retail point of sale applications.

In case you missed it, here are the links to our prior posts in the series:

Reason #1 – Stop Buddy Punching
Reason #2 – Increase Productivity
Reason #3 – Enhance Loss Prevention
Reason #4 – Establish Accountability
Reason #5 – Going Green
Reason #6 – Build Customer Loyalty
Reason #7 – Achieve Higher Return On Investment
Reason #8 – Airtight Access Control
Reason #9 – Solidify Role Based Security
Reason #10 – Boost Operational Efficiency
And now on to our next post…

Reason #11 – Peace Of Mind

The Intangibles That Biometric Technology Brings

Today’s post in our ongoing series leading up to participation in the National Retail Federation’s  “Retails Big Show” is not going to throw out any statistics at you.  Nor will we be discussing anything you can necessarily measure.  What we’d like to do is briefly bring to light one of the most important intangible benefits that biometric technology brings to the table—establishing peace of mind for business owners.

Throughout our series, we have talked about many different characteristics of biometrics that can pay dividends to businesses that use it.  If you stop for a moment and collectively think about how these benefits can affect the mindset of a business owner you can probably speculate that one of the main byproducts from deploying biometrics is achieving peace of mind.

How Does Biometrics Help Business Owners Achieve Peace of Mind?

If you make the decision to move forward with using biometric technology, chances are that after your system is set up you will be able to rest and relax a little easier at night.  Gone are the worries that your hourly employees are somehow engaged in buddy punching which pilfers profits from your bottom line and leaves you wondering exactly how payroll inflation is jumping at alarming rates.  Thoughts about employees swapping ID cards or sharing personal identification numbers (PIN) for illegal transactions or fraud begin to vanish as you chuckle to yourself knowing that you have instituted an identification system which requires employees to be held accountable for their actions.

You smile to yourself knowing that because you have invested in biometric technology, you eliminated unnecessary and time consuming tasks that were chewing up employee time and causing them to be much less productive than you would have liked.  Instead, those lost hours are now being refocused into much more productive tasks that are boosting your bottom line.  A sudden warm feeling washes over you when you suddenly remember that by integrating biometric technology, you have just saved yourself thousands of dollars per year on membership or ID cards thereby saving the resources and energy needed to create them and helping boost environmental conservation.

Life is good – your customers are happy and you are strengthening their loyalty now that you are locking down security with biometric identification and they no longer have to worry about unnecessary rises in the cost of goods due to fraud and waste.  Things are looking up because it just dawned on you that inventory control security has been solidified because you are now using biometrics for access control. Now, if something mysteriously goes missing, you have a solid audit trail to fall back on so you can accurately identify perpetrators and bring them to justice.

Finally, as you drift off to sleep you laugh out loud at how you have finally got operational efficiency in check and you can justify the symmetry between the cost of running your business vs. the prices that you charge for your goods.

Life is good.

So, What Are You Waiting For?

With 11 down and 4 more to go, we have made some pretty strong arguments as to why biometric technology can be a benefit in a workforce management or point of service environment.  Hopefully we are starting to prod you into including biometrics as part of your due diligence when investigating technologies to invest in for your business.  No one should claim that biometrics is the panacea to all of your problems and worries, but considering the rapid evolution of the technology and it’s increasing sophistication along with the practicality of its benefits, it sure is a good idea to at least throw it into the hopper as something to consider in your evaluation.

Do you agree or disagree with our points of view?  Please let us know…

The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology In Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale – Reason #10 – Boost Operational Efficiency

Blog Series – “The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology In Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale”

Leading up to our participation in the National Retail Federation’s 2011 “Retail’s Big Show” from January 9 – 12 in New York city, M2SYS Technology is publishing a blog series on the top 15 reasons that biometrics is a smart choice for retail organizations to consider as an authentication technology in workforce management and retail point of sale applications.

In case you missed it, here are the links to our prior posts in the series:

Reason #1 – Stop Buddy Punching
Reason #2 – Increase Productivity
Reason #3 – Enhance Loss Prevention
Reason #4 – Establish Accountability
Reason #5 – Going Green
Reason #6 – Build Customer Loyalty
Reason #7 – Achieve Higher Return On Investment
Reason #8 – Airtight Access Control
Reason #9 – Solidify Role Based Security

And now on to our next post…

Reason #10 – Boost Operational Efficiency

What Does Operational Efficiency Mean?

Investopedia defines the term “operational efficiency” as:

A market condition that exists when participants can execute transactions and receive services at a price that equates fairly to the actual costs required to provide them. An operationally-efficient market allows investors to make transactions that move the market further toward the overall goal of prudent capital allocation, without being chiseled down by excessive frictional costs, which would reduce the risk/reward profile of the transaction.

Another way to define “operational efficiency is as follows:

Operational Efficiency is – what occurs when the right combination of people, process, and technology come together to enhance the productivity and value of any business operation, while driving down the cost of routine operations to a desired level. The end result is that resources previously needed to manage operational tasks can be redirected to new, high value initiatives that bring additional capabilities to the organization.

Simply stated, operational efficiency is concocting the ideal mix of employees, procedures and technology that creates maximized value for an organization while lowering costs so that a portion of previously allocated resources can be reinvested in alternate money producing initiatives.  It’s minimizing waste and maximizing resource capabilities in order to deliver quality products and services to customers.  Weeding out those processes that affect the ability of a company to be profitable is a key component to any successful organization.

This provides an opportunistic time to discuss the value that biometrics can bring to a retail organization to boost operational efficiency.

How Does Biometric Technology Help Boost Operational Efficiency?

In one of the most popular Case Studies on our Web site, we present a classic example of how an M2SYS end user implemented biometric technology for time and attendance resulting in a massive boost in operational efficiency.  Biometric technology eliminated the need for payroll staff to input data and reconcile discrepancies enabling them to allocate time to other initiatives that were more productive.

The key for a successful retail business is to strike a balance between the resources (e.g. employees,  facility, inventory, etc.) that are needed in order to deliver a product and the amount that is charged in order to obtain the product, tipping the scales enough on the asking price to realize a sustainable profit.  Businesses must produce quality products at lower prices in order to gain market share.   The argument for biometric technology as a key component in order to realize boosts in operational efficiencies is that it provides a business with a resource that eliminates unnecessary tasks that are borne by antiquated technologies while at the same time creates a virtually foolproof way to authenticate an individual so you can rest assured that you are not being exploited by your employees, as we discussed in our previous blog post.

Tying Together The Pieces Of The Puzzle

With all of the other responsibilities that go along with running a retail business, it can be easy to overlook everything that may be needed to help you maximize your profits.  Increasingly, businesses are turning to biometric  technology as a pillar of their overall strategy to maintain an efficient and competitive enterprise.  It’s no surprise that with the myriad of competing technologies, it can be difficult to sort through which would be the best application for your business.

Fortunately, technologies such as biometrics have arrived that inject simplicity and pragmatism into an overall operational strategy that is built on a foundation of logic and feasibility.  As biometric technology has evolved, it has become more and more applicable to a host of businesses in many different vertical markets for many different needs.  The key to determining if it’s a good fit for your business is to read about its accomplishments and evaluate the merits based on what your own individual unique needs are.

We are here to help.  Reach out to us and let us know what you need so we can determine if biometrics can meet your needs.

What are your trepidations about using biometrics?  Do you agree that it can boost your operational efficiency?  Please share your comments with us.

The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology In Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale – Reason #8 – Airtight Access Control

Blog Series – “The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology In Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale”

Leading up to our participation in the National Retail Federation’s 2011 “Retail’s Big Show” from January 9 – 12 in New York city, M2SYS Technology is publishing a blog series on the top 15 reasons that biometrics is a smart choice for retail organizations to consider as an authentication technology in workforce management and retail point of sale applications.

In case you missed it, here are the links to our prior posts in the series:

Reason #1 – Stop Buddy Punching
Reason #2 – Increase Productivity
Reason #3 – Enhance Loss Prevention
Reason #4 – Establish Accountability
Reason #5 – Going Green
Reason #6 – Build Customer Loyalty
Reason #7 – Achieve Higher Return On Investment

And now on to our next post…

Reason #8 – Access Control

Defining Access Control

Wikipedia defines the term “access control” as “a system which enables an authority to control access to areas and resources in a given physical facility or computer-based information system.  An access control system, within the field of physical security, is generally seen as the second layer in the security of a physical structure.”

The definition goes on to point out that people run across examples of access control quite frequently in one form or another from car door locks to a PIN on an ATM system to bouncers standing in front of a night club.  For all intents and purposes, access control is defined as a place or object which requires a pass code, token, key, biometric, etc. in order to gain access.  For this particular blog post, we are going to focus on the application of access control to a retail environment as it applies to securing inventory.

Many retail establishments are adopting stricter inventory access control policies to prevent theft and eliminate fraud.  Tightened access control is increasingly gaining scrutiny as key strategic initiative and a means to protect assets.  Many retail establishments are reassessing or establishing their access control policies and instituting more stringent security measures, often choosing biometrics as their preferred technology.

Advantages Of Biometric Access Control

Inventory access control devices that restrict entry into an area of a retail establishment can be set up in a number of ways.  Before establishing an access control system, the question to ask yourself is, “How can I institute an access control device that will not only safeguard my inventory but also help to establish a concrete audit trail in case there is a problem so that I can determine the cause?”  The only sure way to do this is by using biometric technology.

The problems that you may encounter if you were to employ a bar code or personal identification number (PIN) access control system is that employees have the opportunity to swap PIN’s and bar code cards making it virtually impossible to definitively know exactly who the person is gaining access to the inventory supply.  With biometric technology, you know with certainty exactly who is accessing your inventory and can assuredly rely on the audit results to rectify the potential problem.  Once again, biometrics proves to be the sole technology that provides security and peace of mind with near absolute certainty.

Furthermore, biometric access control systems are affordable and with the increasing sophistication of biometric technology, you can choose between several different biometric modalities such as fingerprint, finger vein, palm vein, facial recognition, hand geometry, voice and many others.  Normally, when an individual presents their physiological information to a biometric access control unit and is positively identified, the unit will send a signal to a door strike which will release and allow that individual access to a restricted area.

Effective Access Control Policies Also Require Thorough Education

Effective access control policies only begin with choosing the right technology.  Once you have the technology in place, rigorous employee education, security awareness training and monitoring are needed to solidify the system and ensure its usefulness.  For example, installing an access control unit will not do any good unless you also train employees to close the door behind them after opening and not to let anyone else in with them while inside.

Installing an access control device simply is a start.  Consistent monitoring and auditing must be coupled with periodic testing of the system to ensure it is working properly.  Simply buying an access control device and slapping it on a wall will not solve your problems or act as a viable safeguard against theft.  It must be an ongoing, concerted effort that combines technology with common sense to render the system effective.

Contact Us For More Information

If you are considering implementing an access control system for your retail establishment to protect your assets or secure any other items or sensitive information, please contact us and we can help to identify the system that is the right fit for you.  We have extensive experience in biometric access control devices and can educate you on the specs and functionality of a system so you can determine if it is a good fit for your infrastructure.

Here are the ways to get in touch with us:

Phone – 770-393-0986
E-mail – sales@m2sys.com
Web – www.m2sys.com
Twitter – http://twitter.com/#!/m2sys
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/m2sys

How has adopting an access control system in your business helped you?  Please share your stories with us in the comments section below…