ID Card Software: Not What It Used To Be
If you view ID card software as a niche product for specific markets that just want an ID badge, think again.
Forget what you know about ID cards and ID card software. Forget that list of markets you know are typically in need of ID cards. Everything has changed and is continuing to change with ID card technology. In fact, even the name of the technology is changing to such terms as "identity management solutions" or "digital identity solutions." According to Lori Rodriguez, president of ImageWare Americas Group for ImageWare Systems, Inc. (San Diego), "No longer is an ID card just an ID badge. An ID badge is now becoming more of a true secure credential. Companies of all sizes and in all industries are concerned with what information is contained in an ID card and how to prevent the creation of fraudulent cards." It is that new concern for security that has caused ID card software vendors like ImageWare to add biometrics and smart card functionality to their applications. Many vendors also have added enhancements for integrating with more printers, cameras, and other security systems. "New digital identity software will incorporate advanced mapping and database tools, so larger installations can easily integrate and synchronize with other enterprise applications [e.g. human resources, payroll]," stated Bruce Bianco, president of ID card software vendor Synercard Corp. (Hull, Quebec).
"Anyone can print a card," stated Kevin Gillick, head of corporate marketing for Datacard Group (Minnetonka, MN). "However, an identity management solution should provide users with the ability to manage, capture, update, verify, and authenticate a database, while giving them the ability to personalize and print a card."
Opportunities Abound For Both Physical And Logical Control
It's no secret that companies now view ID card software as a mission-critical application. As such, VARs selling this technology should understand all of the possible uses for an ID card. Bianco lists the following as the two most common categories of applications for digital identity solutions:
- Employee/member/student/constituent identification and management
- Visitor identification and management
- Facilities management
- Inventory management
- Secure logon
- Information management
- Records and file management
- Financial and transaction management
"The increased demand to create, manage, and authenticate an individual's identity is creating exceptional revenue opportunities for VARs," Bianco said. "Digital identity solutions give VARs and systems integrators the opportunity to strengthen relationships with current customers and establish relationships with new customers."
How Not To View ID Card Software
Just because ID card software is in demand doesn't mean end users will accept any application presented to them. In other words, VARs can still lose sales if they view ID card software as a one-size-fits-all type of product. "It often is easy to view all ID card software as basically having the same functionality," explained Rodriguez. "However, there are also some real differences when it comes to card design, Web-based solutions, and integration capabilities. Sometimes VARs look at only the basic functions, reseller discounts, and MSRP of the software. They overlook important profit-generating opportunities like the ability to customize and/or integrate with existing customer systems."
Although some VARs have decided to create their own ID card software, this strategy could mean more work than it's worth. For instance, with your own software, you have to provide updates over time as well as stay current with multiple operating systems. Juggling that type of software maintenance along with selling your core product offerings may not be the best use of your time.
More Than Just A Product Sale
Not only has the technology associated with ID cards changed (e.g. adding biometrics and smart cards), but so has the sales strategy. "It is critical for VARs to understand that the ID card software market is no longer going to be a product sale," Rodriguez explained. "Instead, VARs need to offer a total solution. They also need to understand that creating a stand-alone photo ID card is no longer good enough for most companies."
Gillick echoes Rodriquez' sentiment regarding the importance of a solution sell. He said Datacard's most successful VARs look for a complete solution that can be integrated through standard ODBC (open database connectivity) drivers and SDKs (software development kits) and includes the camera, printer, and possibly biometrics.
Don't forget, no matter how you define ID card software, the fact remains that this technology is in demand and offers recurring revenue to VARs. Determine your customers' most common security concerns, educate yourself on the different software vendors available, and get moving.