This post was originally published on Rob's Linkedin on Oct 22, 2016. You can follow him here.
It was about 15 years ago when I was first presented with the opportunity to enter the world of biometrics first as a board member of the publically traded company BioScrypt, later as their CEO and then eventually as the Founder and CEO of my own biometric technology company, BioConnect.
When I became the Founder of BioConnect, I was further presented with the challenges of growing and scaling biometric solutions. We had a very excellent and sound product and yet, we still had problems with adoption. At the time, I concluded that this had to do with the cost, complexity of biometric solutions and the difficulty onboarding users. What that really means is the industry had a point to point (or one to one) integration problem. In order to adopt biometric solutions, a company either had to take the solution right out of the box and have it work side by side their existing solution, (which eventually led to it not being used at all because it was such a burden – I’ve heard it referred to as “swivel-chairing”) or building a point to point integration so that it could communicate with its existing infrastructure.
What I’ve learned is that this doesn’t work.
Today we see news almost daily about a new mobile-based biometric technology vendor emerge and I’m seeing the same problems repeat themselves; Companies building mobile biometric solutions with point-to-point integrations.
Why have I seen it not work?
You can create the most innovative, smart, quality sensors and biometric-based technologies in the world, but the problem is that the world’s existing infrastructure cannot take advantage of it.
Look at it from three of the players:
1) the software provider,
2) the biometric technology vendor, and
3) the end user
If you’re a vendor, you face great frustration with getting your technology adopted. You find yourself having to go door to door trying to convince software providers to integrate with your system, when they’re busy working on their own product and don’t have the R&D capacity or just don’t see the cost benefit to them. You’re stuck creating new, innovative, fantastic technology and the world can’t take advantage of it.
If you’re the “infrastructure,” i.e. the software solutions already embedded into our world, you don’t speak biometric. In the digital world, we have usernames and passwords and in the physical world, our identity is based off of a card number. If you complete a point-to-point integration because you see the benefits of switching to a system based off of biometrics, history has taught us that you’re frozen in time. You’ll complete a point-to-point integration with the biometric vendor and you’re now hard-coded to a particular technology. You don’t have as strong of a hold on the roadmap of the product as the technologies change, the companies change – get bought and sold, and that’s a risk to you.
Now what if you’re an end user who wants to consume this technology? No matter how cool, how high security, how convenient it is… you can’t take advantage of it.
Someone has to take a platform approach to this problem: curate all of the biometric information into a common platform that acts as the engine and the middle man (through an API/SDK) between software infrastructure and biometric technology. The end user can now consume it because now we’ve simplified it for them to use it. The biometric vendor can continue to innovate and know that their innovations can be adopted in the market, and the infrastructure is protected from change in technology and able to provide choice and scalability for their end users. That’s the power of a platform.
I encourage you to start a conversation about what this looks like for you going forward.