Biometrics and Networking Are The Future Of Time And Attendance Terminals
Five industry leaders say biometrics and Internet/Ethernet are
the wave of the future in time and attendance.
The days of the old punch clock as a time and attendance terminal have faded. Today's time and attendance information can be obtained over the Internet from across the country, or through biometric information, to increase security at an end user's site. Biometrics is the measurement of specific attributes like voice or finger geometry, which can be used to prove a person's identity. Five leaders in the time and attendance industry gave their opinions to Business Solutions on what VARs need to know to keep up with this technology. They also gave insight as to where this technology is going.
Networking with Ethernet and Internet connections is extremely popular right now, says Dick Novacek, Acroprint's systems sales manager (Raleigh, NC). "With this technology," he explains, "end users can communicate to time and attendance terminals through Ethernet, a local area network (LAN) that interconnects personal computers via coaxial cable. Numerous terminals can be connected to the Ethernet. If an end user has multiple locations, it isn't necessary to make a long-distance call to check time and attendance terminals over a modem through a phone line."
"Ethernet provides businesses with the standard they need as they grow and modify their infrastructure," says Peter DiMaria, president of AccuTime Systems (ATS) (Ellington, CT). "By the year 2000, I expect our production of Ethernet-enabled solutions to increase by 50%."
"Time and attendance terminals are an integral part of the information technology (IT) infrastructure," says Bill Spence, v.p. of marketing and sales of Recognition Systems (Campbell, CA). "Ethernet is interesting because it offers an online approach to time and attendance terminals. A lot of terminals in the United States collect information all day and poll that information at the end of the day. Ethernet allows for more online systems, which are constantly being polled and updated. Europe is ahead of the game compared to the United States in regard to Ethernet and online-type systems."
"The essence of time and attendance terminals is data collection," says Spence. "The Ethernet allows these units to also function as data displays. It's a way of distributing company information, like updates to the healthcare plan."
Biometrics Eliminates "Buddy-Punching"
"Biometric technology will be far reaching," says DiMaria. "As VARs, we will all want to follow its evolution." Bill Lathem, president of Lathem Time Corp. (Atlanta) says the prices of biometric readers continue to decline. "Biometrics is close to becoming an excellent, affordable alternative to badge or PIN entry for time and attendance," he says.
Biometrics eliminates the need for card production, says Jimmy Bianco, vice president of sales at Control Module, Inc. (CMI) (Enfield, CT). "With biometrics," he explains, "producing systems and the employees hired to print the cards on a full-time basis are no longer needed. More importantly, use of the technology eliminates 'buddy punching.' If an employee shows up an hour late for work, another employee can't punch that person's timecard."
How To React To Market Changes
"VARs need to get certification in networking," says Novacek. "When VARs install a network system, they need to be able to answer questions. They should know how software like Windows NT works. Once VARs have sufficient industry knowledge, they separate themselves from being resellers to become value added resellers."
"Know the differences between biometrics and scanners," warns Novacek. "There are a lot of fingerprint scanners on the market, which just take a picture of your fingerprint. A true biometric device measures the finger, determines the temperature sensitivity, and matches that to previously recorded data. There used to be a huge difference between prices of biometric devices and scanners, but now that delta is becoming very small."
"With so much variety in configuration," Lathem says, "VARs can design the system to fulfill the needs of any customer. VARs must know the products they sell inside and out. Sometimes it takes every trick in the toolbox to fit the various customer requirements."
The affordability of open architecture and biometrics is also allowing smaller VARs to go into larger markets, says Bianco. "A medium-sized VAR can now succeed with larger, more lucrative companies who previously dealt directly with vendors. Also, take advantage of the tools and leads that manufacturers provide."