While it may be a while before NFC applications are mainstream among consumers, here at TapTrack we see a tremendous opportunity in enterprise and B2B applications. Enterprise NFC applications abound – whether it’s to help track grape harvesting or enable staff to quickly access equipment specifications on their mobile device.The enterprise market is particularly attractive since implementing an enterprise NFC solution elegantly solves the two main problems standing in the way of consumer-centric applications: the lack of NFC-enabled phones, and a lack of consumer education surrounding the use of the technology.
When working with enterprises, the former problem is solved through furnishing staff with compatible devices, and the latter is solved through employee training programs. And with more and more smartphones incorporating NFC, the concern about limited selection
One vertical solution that we particularly like at TapTrack is guard patrols. By placing unique NFC touchpoints in various locations within a patrolled facility, a security firm can monitor security guards in real-time, increasing their accountability and decreasing the time and money spent transcribing and archiving manually recorded security logs. By scanning a touchpoint with an authorized phone, a security guard can demonstrate diligence without needing to be constantly monitored. NFC shines in this application since QR codes cannot be serialized and are easily circumvented in a proof of presence application. And it’s a perfect example of how devices can be standardized by the organization, and staff can be trained on how to use the technology effectively.
Even the agriculture industry can benefit from NFC. Vineyards that use temporary laborers to manually harvest grapes can track not only the yield, but also which pickers harvested the most. The use case would typically entail the grape picker wearing an NFC bracelet to identify him. After having his basket of grapes weighed the wristband is scanned with an NFC phone thereby ensuring that grape pickers are paid based on the amount harvested rather than an hourly rate which does not encourage efficient harvesting.
But while we see great opportunity in the enterprise space, it doesn’t mean that great consumer facing NFC implementations have not been done. Currently NFC is being positioned as a cooler QR code with its core benefit being a frictionless experience in comparison to the cumbersome experience of scanning a QR code.
But until the iPhone includes NFC, it seems that certain industries will shy away from the technology. Companies specializing in outdoor ad engagement, for example will continue to take a technology agnostic approach by placing NFC as an option alongside QR codes, Bluetooth marketing and even using free WiFi to generate ad impressions on mobile devices. Although I’m sure the number of engagements is increasing, the absolute scale of these numbers has rarely been made public. Since NFC marketing entails tangible costs, only those brands with an appetite for innovation or a desire to use the latest technology have taken the plunge and used NFC in outdoor campaigns.
The other big area of NFC discussion and buzz centers on contactless payments, a technology that will create immense value for mobile users. The benefits of not having to carry credit/debit, loyalty or transit access cards are clear. The concerns about security will subside and using your mobile phone to pay for goods and access public transit will become commonplace. Now the only question that remains is when? For many industry observers and firms like TapTrack, the adoption curve of contactless payments is in the hands of the big phone makers, financial institutions, mobile network operators (MNOs) and trusted service managers (TSMs). Everyone knows what level of co-ordination is required to realize NFC’s potential, all that remains is to achieve this degree of co-operation. All we can do is wait patiently while these big players sort it all out.
Since starting TapTrack not a week has gone by without a new enterprise application being proposed either by a customer or internally.I’d love to hear some suggestions either by posting here or contacting us. Remember that many implementations were too costly when RFID readers (often industrial products) were needed, but now that mobile phones have the same functionality many applications become economical.