Smart card technology is helping to revolutionise the way companies operate. These clever pieces of plastic can have a tremendous impact on security, performance, efficiency and even customer satisfaction. With many more businesses taking advantage of the range of services they offer, we decided to take a closer look at how they can improve your business.

  1. Increasing efficiency and attendance

One way smart cards can improve your business is by using them to monitor time and attendance. Smart cards can tell you who is on site, when they arrive and leave and, importantly, how long they spend doing different tasks.

This information enables you to produce accurate records of staff attendance and punctuality which can be directly linked to payroll, saving finance staff hours of work calculating wages. It also lets HR staff keep an eye on individual attendance or punctuality issues so that these can be quickly addressed. What’s more, when staff know that their time and attendance is being monitored, they are more likely to be punctual and work more efficiently.

The other benefit is that businesses get to see exactly where and when time is spent by all employees. This can help you to find better and more efficient ways of working which can reduce costs or increase productivity.

  1. Restricting physical access

Restricting physical access to and within the premises is vital for many businesses. Some facilities, such as factories, may wish to limit site access to authorised employees, others will want to restrict access to certain areas so that only specific employees can enter: a bank, for example, won’t want to let every employee into the vault. Besides employees, businesses may also want to put limits on where visitors can and cannot go.

Enforcing these limitations can be difficult; however, with smart card access control, restricting physical access becomes incredibly easy to achieve and can be automated. Smart card access control means doors will only open to those who have been given access to the area or building they are attempting to enter.

Using RFID  technology means your assets and stock are better protected, your data is more secure, and your visitors and unauthorised staff are kept out of potentially hazardous areas. At the same time, it means you won’t need the same levels of human security and won’t need to supply everyone with multiple keys for various different doors.

  1. Going cashless    

Lots of businesses can benefit from a cashless environment. For example, if you have a large workforce which you provide food and refreshments for, taking payments in cash can mean longer queues, slower service, payment errors and hours of work tallying up the takings. The same applies to hospitality businesses such as hotels, holiday camps and even football clubs.

Issuing employees, members, season ticket holders or visitors with a cashless payment card can make things much simpler. Without cash, service becomes faster and more customer friendly, and quicker service often means you don’t need as many staff. Smart cards are also more convenient than cash and today’s payment systems make it very easy for users to top up their balance.

In addition, a cashless environment reduces the workload on the finance staff, not only cutting out any cash counting but automatically producing data rich reports which can be used to help with marketing and stock control. In other words, you’ll know who is spending money, what they are spending it on, when they are spending it and how much. You cannot get this valuable information so quickly and easily when people pay in cash. And, of course, if there is no cash, money can’t get lost or stolen.

  1. Keeping your data secure

When the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into force in 2018, all businesses that keep personal data will have to beef up their system security. Loss of data under the new regulations can result in fines of up to €20 million or 4% or annual global turnover – whichever is the greatest.

One of the biggest threats to data security comes from hackers gaining access using someone else’s account. This is often achieved because authentication is weak, the user has a weak password or the password has been phished or stolen.

Thankfully, smart card technology can make your system and data far more secure by enabling multifactor authentication when users log in to your system. The smart card technology currently offered by Universal Smart Cards, for example, can securely store credentials such as passwords, certificates and even fingerprints so that all users have an additional layer of verification. In addition, these cards can even be used to restrict access to specific applications, meaning any sensitive data you wish to keep secure can only be accessed by those who are authorised. This kind of technology will be very useful for those who have to comply with GDPR next year.

  1. Improve print management

There is incredible wastage involved in printing. Press the wrong key and you can easily print a dozen copies of a large document rather than the single page you needed. And each wasted print run costs money: paper, toner and electricity all have to be paid for. Over the financial year, the cost can be substantial. The problem for many companies lies in the fact that individual employees and the departments they belong to are not held accountable for their usage.

Thanks to smart card technology, however, this can be rectified. Printers can be set up so that they can only be used with a smart card. When this happens, the card will record everything a member of staff prints. This record can then be linked to the departmental budget so that the manager knows how much the department has spent on printing and can hold individuals to account.

Companies which use this solution see a rapid decrease in printing costs. Wastage is cut dramatically and employees are far more careful about using paper copies when electronic ones will suffice.

Final thoughts

Smart cards can help businesses make improvements in a range of ways. They help them become more efficient, save money, keep people away from hazards, protect data and secure assets. They make life easier and produce data that allows us to do things in better ways. In this sense, they are very smart cards indeed.

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