Why do you suppose that southern Africa is one of the world’s biggest markets for biometrics? In terms of access control products, why is it that the region accounts for over 20% of global sales for the biometric giant, Safran Morpho? And how come there are now over 70 000 Morpho fingerprint scanners deployed across SA, controlling access for more than 2,5 million locals in environments ranging from mines to residential estates?
“Integration is a cornerstone of this extraordinary success,” according to Marius Coetzee, MD of local Morpho distributor, Ideco Biometric Security Solutions (IBSS). “Our continuous investment in integration is one of the main reasons why more than 70% of all local biometric applications are based on Morpho scanners.”
IBSS spends around R2,2m a year on providing integration services that enable the use of Morpho fingerprint scanners within a diversity of secure business solutions. At any given time, IBSS typically has R600 000 worth of development or demonstration equipment allocated to specific projects.
Coetzee says that Ideco’s integration service is a core component of the Morpho product in southern Africa. “It is an on-going process that supports an ever-growing range of business applications that rely on accurate identification of the people who use them. As the advantages of modern biometrics become more widely recognised, we are seeing increased demand for us to integrate Morpho within different types of systems.”
The most obvious areas of systems integration are within access control and time management solutions. For the past six or so years, an increasing number of local organisations have been replacing conventional access cards with Morpho scanners. From major solution providers like Bytes Technology, Stanley Security Solutions and Business Connexion, through to leading security distributors like ADI and Norbain, Morpho is regarded as the number-one biometric product.
Morpho scanners have been integrated by IBSS with all the leading access and T&A software platforms, including Impro, Blueline, Saflec, Controlsoft, Softcon, Kronos, Lavie, and S-Cube. For Coetzee, this extensive integration work across such a wide range of leading solutions was essential and it forms part of an integrated biometric security industry estimated at more than R3 billion per annum.
“In order to drive high volumes of Morpho sales across southern Africa, we had to demonstrate commitment to the companies who use the products. If we had just dropped boxes and walked away, Morpho would just be another one of the small-time players in the local biometrics market.”
A structured approach
The type of integration service provided by IBSS allows different levels of integration within the systems that Morpho features. Coetzee says, “We offer the service free of charge based on agreements that the solution provider uses Morpho. Obviously, it is important that the technology itself is so highly regarded. That level of respect for the product is based on a long-established track record of exceptional performance and capabilities. At Ideco, one of our key roles is to make those advantages readily available to the market.”
IBSS begins its formal integration process with an NDA to protect both parties when sharing their IP. This is followed by a strategy discussion to understand the business objectives and integration requirements. “Then the two teams of technologists do their thing,” says Coetzee. “They move the integration forward to a point where it can be evaluated against the original objectives and certified as being compliant to best biometric practices.”
Coetzee knows that integration is a living thing and evolves with advances within the Morpho range as well as in the solutions where it is used. “With every new product release and reader firmware release there are changes that could have a material effect on the overall solution. Ideco maintains on-going relationships with system integrators so that we can support each other’s developments and maximise the commercial advantages that biometrics offer the end-user. We ensure that a user’s accurate expectations of the technology can be met.”
Beyond conventional access and time management
Increasingly, Ideco is seeing that accurate identity control is becoming an essential function within more and more business processes. Coetzee says, “We are currently working on 46 integration projects. These include the use of biometrics within logistics and supply chains; vehicle driver identification; managing the chain of custody within law enforcement; and handling identity-based processes within the manufacturing, retail, banking and medical sectors.
“It is our job to ensure certainty in every identity which is part of a transaction. Our integration skills mean we can turn that objective into a business reality.”
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