Five ways NFC could transform business life
The emergence of the ‘mobile wallet’ is one of the most talked-about technology developments of 2012.
An increasing number of leisure outlets, shops and transport hubs now have NFC readers at checkouts, which means customers can pass an NFC-enabled handset in front of the device to make an instant payment, debited either from their bank account or added to their monthly mobile service charge.
Instead of carrying a large wallet full of cards or fumble in pockets for cash, this solution aims to make the everyday purchase of small items such as lunch and train tickets faster and more convenient.
For business people on the move, this also eliminates the need to gather paper receipts, since all transaction data – including date, time, location and amount – can be automatically logged and transmitted back to a central PC at head office for quick and efficient processing of expenses.
Time and attendance
Equipping staff with low-cost NFC handsets provides employers with an immediate system for tracking and logging attendance.
As they enter and leave an office, an NFC reader within the doorway can automatically log their arrival and departure times, relaying this data to a central point to create an accurate digital record of attendance.
Such a system may have implications for HR policy and is particularly useful where flexible working hours are in place. It may also feed information to help determine salary or overtime payments, or leave allowance.
Often overlooked is the fact that NFC enables a two-way exchange of information. This has particular pertinence to remote or travelling workers.
As well as automatically ‘checking in’ at given locations, these staff can automatically receive information pertaining to tasks that should be carried out at that location, as well as updates on where they should go next and work that is required.
Hospitality, leisure and healthcare organisations have been identified as key beneficiaries, since care, cleaning, portering or facilities management teams may be spread across a large site, or visiting numerous external locations during the course of a working day.
In terms of workforce management and rostering, this enables day-to-day schedules to be changed and updated in real time, without the costs, time delays and unreliability associated with the exchange of phonecalls.
Another significant advantage of the NFC revolution is the impact it could have on the personal safety of employees.
Because NFC-equipped handsets intuitively log time and location details whenever they in close proximity to an NFC tag or reader – whether a shop checkout, transport hub or building entrance, for example – the organisation can quickly compile a record of the employee’s movements.
This could prove particularly useful for companies seeking to bolster the safety of remote staff as they move between different locations.
It also has strong implications for security staff, when performing routine checks throughout a site during the night, for example. A digital record of the security guard’s regular movement would be stored.
Since NFC technology exchanges information in digital format and can transmit this, via software, into a central database, the costs associated with ‘manual communication’ are naturally scaled back.
Forms and paperwork relating to payment transactions, staff rosters and attendance are dramatically reduced by the use of NFC. The immediate and automatic exchange of data also reduces the need for phonecalls, for example when a remote worker is trying to keep in touch with his or her headquarters or vice versa.
The additional costs and delays that can arise from these communications are eliminated by NFC because information is passed between relevant individuals in an automated form.
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