Biometric Identity Management for Retail
A solution for 140,000 employees and 3,600 locations is rarely available off-the-shelf
As part of its new digital strategy, a large retail company planned to implement a new identity management system for its more than 140,000 employees at 3,600 locations. In the initial discussions, the company first considered in detail which biometric technologies would be most suitable for this purpose and at which points an employee identity check should take place.
An essential aspect of using the biometric solution is the data protection-compliant storage of the recorded biometric data. Since the solution was to be used both inside and outside the locations, e.g. for payment in the canteens or for elevator control, the correct installation of the biometric sensors for all areas and locations had to be considered in detail.
A biometrics project of this dimension requires a special approach. It is therefore essential to select different technical solutions for the exterior/interior areas, an appropriate time frame, a clearly defined budget for each individual section of the project and an appropriate service concept.
Since the registration of the 140,000 employees could not be done at the headquarters, we made sure that the HR department at each location could do this in a data protection-compliant manner. After registration, the biometric data were stored in a highly encrypted form on a separate local security server as well as on a corresponding server at the corporate headquarters. In this way, a constantly high availability of the biometric data was achieved at each biometric access point and for each individual employee.
In the outdoor areas, biometric technology was adapted to the respective environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, sun). Before such a project finally goes viral, a proof of concept in the form of a pilot project with a selection of employees must be carried out in any case.
During the Proof of Concepts pilot, we found that the linchpin for the success of the solution was that the employees would use and apply it correctly. Without sufficient training, it would not work. Because as trivial as it may sound, the use of biometric sensors must also be learned and trained again and again until the employees can do so. But then there are also factors such as where the biometric sensor is used, and there are huge differences in operation and system feedback, which we had to incorporate into the design of the biometric sensors to ensure smooth operation.
Although we involved all the key staff at the beginning of the project, there was always a need for explanation and discussion when something didn’t work as planned. We solved this by personally interviewing the user where the problem came to light. This way we could solve the problem together and for the user this is the only way to gain confidence in the technology.
A biometric project of this size is always a challenge and is not easy to implement. Without a maximum of consulting, planning and solution design, it will not work. Even the proof of concept is a challenge that can only be mastered if the customer is fully advising and supporting throughout the entire project so that he can intervene at any time. Without the appropriate manpower it doesn’t work. This way system related- or operating problems can be sorted out already in an early stage of the future productive system.
And this is exactly one of our strengths: Biometrics is rarely available off-the-shelf, it often has to be customized for the customer.
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