You arrive at the office, you approach the security gates, you swipe your card and start the day. It’s one of the motions that a large percentage of the workforce goes through daily, because today, and it seems that for a while yet, the access card is still the reigning security device for entering corporate offices.
By 2016, less than 5% of organizations had incorporated the use of smartphones to access their facilities or restricted parts of them. By 2020, according to a report by the consultancy Gartner, this percentage will have tripled: 20% of companies will have replaced access cards with smartphones.
Although the vast majority of mobile phones on the market already have Bluetooth and NFC technologies, there are still few companies that have taken the next step and put these technologies to use. Which, to be fair, may be seen as a wasted opportunity, since the necessary devices are ever-present in the pockets of authorized employees.
The progressive replacement of access cards by smartphones will go hand in hand, according to Gartner, with the adoption of biometric systems such as fingerprint or iris scanners, or facial recognition, because it is much easier and safer to implement them if accompanied with a mobile phone.
“Rather than having to add biometric capture devices in or alongside readers, the phone itself can easily be used as a capture device,” said David Anthony Mahdi, director of research at Gartner. “This approach also mitigates the risks from an attacker who gains possession of a person’s phone.” If an intruder were to steal an employee’s device, biometric authentication would still have to be overridden.
Given its advantages (convenience, cost reduction, etc.), the only thing that stands between the smartphone and access to the vast majority of offices is a company’s willingness to implement the change – many of the access control systems and card readers installed today in companies require a major update to be compatible with smartphones that use wifi, Bluetooth, or NFC to establish identification parameters.
It’s just a matter of time. In a few years, if Gartner’s predictions are correct, many employees will have a new way to start their day at the office. They will arrive, they will approach the security gates, they will take their mobile out of their pocket and take a selfie, they will enter and begin the workday. They no longer have to worry about getting the card before leaving home. Their phone is always with them.