Making The Most Of Card Technology
IDenticard started out as a card manufacturer, but has evolved into a software designer and VAR. The company now has a staff of 201 employees and offers solutions for digital imaging, access control, and asset tracking.
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past five years, you know that the issue of school security is a hot topic. Nationwide, children of all ages are now receiving ID cards that have a variety of purposes foodservice, library card, access control. However, more than likely, the true impetus for these installations has stemmed from our nation's recent quest for safer and more secure educational environments. From a VAR's point of view, the result of these types of societal trends marks an increase in opportunities for card-related solutions.
More Than Just A VAR
IDenticard Systems, Inc. (Lancaster, PA) has always been in the security industry. Founded in 1970, IDenticard began as a manufacturer and supplier of security ID cards. Later that decade, the company introduced its first access control system. Then, in the late 1980s, IDenticard added video imaging to its line of products. "When we first started in access control and video imaging, we were a reseller of someone else's products," explained Robert Hager, IDenticard president and CEO. "We learned quickly, though, that the manufacturers were not as close to the end users as we were. We understood the users' needs, but didn't have the ability or talent to design software to meet those needs. We finally decided to expand beyond just being a reseller for some of our products."
IDenticard has evolved into a software development company that is also an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and a VAR. Now employing 201 people, the company focuses on providing digital imaging, access control, and ID card solutions. According to Hager, offering a broad base of products that are upgradable is the key to his company's success. "We try to sell solutions that will grow over time with our clients' needs. That way, we add value for users because they don't have to replace their entire system every few years."
Adapt To A Changing Market
Every day, people around the world use access cards to log on to computer networks or to complete e-commerce transactions. These types of card uses were nonexistent in the 1970s and 1980s when IDenticard was still young. "Fifteen years ago, we were basically an ID card printer," explained Hager. "Although we still print cards, new technologies and the diversified needs of the security industry have transformed our company." Furthermore, the company no longer relies exclusively on industry as its primary market. IDenticard has found other profitable ventures in the government, healthcare, and education verticals. For example, the company has sold digital imaging solutions to the US Department of Transportation (Washington, D.C.), Children's Hospital (Columbus, OH), and Roosevelt University (Chicago). Each of these systems included hardware (camera, computers, etc.), IDenticard software, and FARGO card printers. In fact, because of its commitment to the card printing industry, IDenticard has earned the designation of FSP (FARGO Solution Provider) from FARGO Electronics, Inc. (see sidebar for more information on the FSP program).
Digital imaging is a perfect example of how IDenticard adapted to a changing technology. The company prints its own laminated cards. However, PVC cards which IDenticard resells have gained in popularity. "Most VARs have literally given up on the laminated technology," quipped Hager. "This is probably due to the simplicity and speed of printing PVC cards as compared to a laminated process." Hager stated that until five years ago, his company only offered digital imaging systems with laminated cards. Now, PVC card-based digital imaging systems make up 50% of the company's sales in this area.
Digital imaging consists of three steps:
- Entering the variable ID data into a computer system
- Capturing the individual's picture through a digital camera
- Printing a card with the organization's logo, the selected photo, and the selected ID data (name, title, employee number) in the pre-designed format.
Wireless World Produces Another Opportunity
The traditional business paradigm has shifted from fixed to portable. For example, not long ago, computers were fixtures on a desktop not something we carried with us everywhere we went. Now, in this wireless age, companies are seeking new ways of tracking the mobile products that help us conduct daily business. A recent study by Frost & Sullivan indicates that, by 2004, sales from asset tracking systems in North America will reach approximately $500 million. In response to this demand, IDenticard introduced its IDentiTRAK asset tracking and security system. By attaching an RFID (radio frequency identification) tag to assets, a company can see the location of an item within a building. By integrating its access control software with this new system, IDenticard can offer its customers a solution with a very definite ROI (return on investment).
"We recently completed an install at a casino where we attached RFID tags to keys used for unlocking slot machines," Hager explained. The IDentiTRAK system integrated with the casino's access control system. When cardholders carrying the tagged keys present their cards to the access control reader, the door's asset tag reader instantly identifies both the person and the keys. If employees attempt to leave the building with the keys, an alarm sounds, and a security guard responds. A $25,000 fine can be incurred by a casino if slot machine keys leave the building. In addition, it would cost thousands of dollars to change all the locks. "Every time that alarm goes off, we are saving the customer $25,000," Hager said.
Profit From Future Trends
Incorporating new technologies like RFID into its card solutions allows IDenticard to grow. Although real-world applications for RF are still relatively new, Hager sees this as a burgeoning market in the near future. Furthermore, he explained that biometric technologies are becoming even more prevalent in the access control industry. "The biometrics market is where the smart card market was five years ago everybody was talking about smart cards, but nobody (except people in Europe) was using them."
IDenticard's metamorphosis over the years is indicative of the changing security market. Like a chameleon, the company has shown that to survive, you have to adapt to your environment.
Questions about this article? E-mail the author at DanS@corrypub.com.