Secure growth in an integrated market

Convergence, integration and the need for higher levels of security are opening up opportunities for the card channel.

Emerging trends in the identity card and secure access market are raising key issues for resellers as the security industry matures into one of substance. Kevin Gillick (pictured left), head of corporate marketing for Datacard Group, leader in secure ID and card personalisation solutions, sees three major trends affecting customer assessment of badging and security management needs.

Convergence of physical and logical security, or ensuring a badging solution is compatible with an organisations IT infrastructure, is critical for maintaining security at the highest level.

As a result of this convergence, there is a definite interest from card issuers and end users to implement one ID management structure that bridges both physical and logical security, said Gillick.

This means there is a need to agree a common practice and achieve uniformity across systems, in order for resellers to install a secure access control system that works in terms of quality, reliability and integration from the enrolment stage through to data management.

Dealing with diverse locations
The second trend is one of integration of enterprise-wide ID management for organisations that have a number of premises with employees in different locations, both nationally and globally.

Even minor integration to other internal systems can be a major development project when customising each different system.

This often leads to incompatibility of systems in each location, requiring employees and regular visitors to be re-badged and re-identified whenever they visit different premises.

In addition, with multiple systems from multiple vendors, it becomes difficult and expensive for an organisation to incorporate any new security technology, such as biometrics or digital video, within the enterprise.

Even minor integration to other internal systems can be a major development project when customising each different system.

This can result in an organisation following a rip and replace strategy, rather than integrating an ID management solution that bridges legacy systems across the business, added Gillick.

Datacard has worked with INTEL to solve this problem and has designed a security management solution for enterprise-wide ID that is a flexible open platform, making it possible to integrate all existing security systems and incorporate new technologies. It provides a single interface for sharing and managing data for access control, identity management, CCTV, biometrics, logical security as well as an open interface to external systems such as human resources.

There is therefore a need for resellers to understand and consult on these issues which may on the surface look like seemingly innocuous business issues.

Securing entry
The third major trend affecting secure card issuance is the development, particularly since 9/11, of the badge or ID document from a common commodity into a secure entry pass crucial to the protection of an organisations property, business and staff.

The issue is no longer merely about how fast a printer works or costs, it is about what technology exists in order to chart risk.

Gillick stressed the importance of the legitimacy of an ID badge in todays security conscious world.

A badge is effectively the key to the kingdom in terms of allowing access to intellectual property, premises and staff association, he said.

As a result, cards require a higher level of sophistication in terms of the integration and encoding of smart chips, tamper evident technologies and, in some cases, biometrics. This also affects the card production systems. The issue is no longer merely about how fast a printer works or costs, it is about what technology exists in order to chart risk.

Risk profiles need to be drawn up and satisfied by the system that is installed.
Analogies can be drawn here with the financial card industry. In the past, credit and debit cards had relatively light security needs with magnetic stripes and signatures sufficing. Today, they are highly secure with the introduction of chip and PIN technology, following rapid growth in fraud and criminal activity.

resellers need to assess the needs of customers in terms of risk. The key question is whether there is value to defraud.

Access control and ID management is maturing in a similar way, albeit with different levels of security need and sophistication. For example, entry to a theme park is of relatively low risk compared to allowing access to a secure government institution or bank.

As a result, resellers need to assess the needs of customers in terms of risk. The key question is whether there is value to defraud. In other words, is it worth breaching a commercial enterprises security? This can range from ensuring the safety of assets and staff to that of intellectual property and trade secrets.

Scalable solutions
Gillick highlighted the need for upward scalability of cards and their security management solutions.

There is a need for modularity so companies can upgrade security levels and technologies without throwing away investment, he said.

This has led to the development of solutions from Datacard that allow an enterprise to start low, with the purchase of modules wholly relevant to its business. If its levels of security change, the system can be upgraded to meet the need.

These trends affect all industry sectors, from government applications to commercial, education, finance and health care and the need for protection within these sectors is growing.

The challenge for resellers in the UK, according to Datacards Jim Runcie (pictured left), Regional General Manager, EMEIA Direct, is to firstly understand the specific need of the customer before offering standard products.

We have moved on from being a component supplier to being a solutions provider, with well-positioned products and servicesproviding the added value demanded by customers, he said.

We understand the needs of resellers for suppliers such as ourselves to provide enhanced services and support in a marketplace that is becoming more demanding and sophisticated.

This means generic offerings need to become more segment specific, allowing resellers to move away from price competition by adding value through integrated solutions. Segmentation can apply to a customers specific need for access control, visitor badging, enterprise-wide ID or multi-applications in sector such as higher education.

Runcie recognised the need for a wider awareness (within resellers) of the impact of new technologies in order for resellers to provide consultancy to the customer, guiding the customer towards a deliverable and maintainable solution and in turn reach their full sales potential. Datacard, like other suppliers, has introduced training seminars both on industry trends and technology, in order to help resellers address issues arising from the evolving industries.

There are also opportunities to build alliances to promote enterprise-wide and secure ID by offering a one-stop-shop concept.

Although the support and product solutions are available, he added the onus was on resellers and their desire to grow in what has matured into an integrated (rather than standalone) market.

Resellers should develop their own proactive ideas gained from direct customer dealingsthey need to be more demanding of suppliersasking for more support and advanced solutions, he added.

This need for resellers, suppliers and key players to work together in order to develop the secure ID sector, is also crucial for assessing new product development and keeping abreast of issues.

In essence, the message is one of opportunity for substantial growth in an integrated market.

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