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Biometrics and the bottom line


This is a guest post by George Brostoff, CEO and Co-Founder, Sensible Vision

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.” — Steve Jobs

Today, business executives are increasingly focused on innovative approaches to cybersecurity and privacy, authentication and managing access to data. And they understand that robust solutions in these areas can facilitate business growth, create market advantages and build brand loyalty.

An obvious front-runner in the race to address these issues would appear to be biometrics. It’s a proven approach that provides a simplified alternative to using passwords and PINs and is almost impossible to hack. On the other hand, there are still only a handful of companies actually using it to let people access their systems. Despite the tremendous strides made in biometric solutions – iris scanning, fingerprints, voice – only a handful of companies including Apple and Bank of America are exploiting this technology. Why is there such a gap between high benefits and low user adoption?

For starters, the number of devices that biometrics can work on is limited. There are still inconsistencies in the level of performance and in many cases, biometric-driven access is not significantly faster than other means of authentication. And for many users, it’s just viewed simply as a password replacement and doesn’t really provide a more convenient approach. All of which adds up to a not very compelling argument for new user adoption.

So, what is the magic bullet for biometrics? There’s no single answer, of course, but in many industries, it all comes down to one factor: user experience (UX). Simply put, if customers have a bad experience – whether it’s shopping, banking, flying, or anything else – they often won’t complete their transactions, they probably won’t come back again and they’re unlikely to recommend the company to their friends.

For perspective, the term “User Experience” was coined by Don Norman, a thought leader and author known for his books on design. He articulated the idea when he was Vice President of the Advanced Technology Group at Apple and describes it this way: “I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual.”

Too often, creators of a new app or software solution are overly focused on the functional requirements – how it is built, how the process flows are constructed. And whether it can be hacked – companies spend lots of money having their applications tested by Quality Assurance teams across a range of browsers and devices.

But what developers sometimes forget is that at the end of the day, their products are going to be used by actual humans – people who have other things to do than to try to figure out how a piece of software works or how to interact with a technology solution. And all too often, they don’t address one of the main customer pain points – usability. This is where biometrics has the opportunity to really shine.

According to Forrester Research, a positive customer experience “increases customers’ willingness to pay by 14.4 percent, reduces their likeliness to switch brands by 15.8 percent, and increases their likelihood to recommend a product by 16.6 percent”. In other words, if a company does not focus on this, they are leaving money on the table each time a customer visits.

Accessing a secure site or application is often an experience that is intrusive, annoying, or invasive. Biometrics can play a critical role in improving and simplifying the user experience and eliminating the negative interactions that diminish customer satisfaction.

By focusing on the importance of user experience in general and the application of biometrics to manage security and authentication, companies have the opportunity to enhance their brand, improve customer satisfaction and generate results that drop to the bottom line.

DISCLAIMER: BiometricUpdate.com blogs are submitted content. The views expressed in this blog are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BiometricUpdate.com.

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