One in five companies will replace physical access cards with smartphones by 2020, Gartner predicts

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Some 20 percent of organizations will use smartphones instead of physical access cards by 2020, according to a report by advisory company Gartner.

In 2016, less than 5 percent of organizations used smartphones to control access to offices and other premises.

“The increasing availability of mobile and cloud technologies from many physical access control system vendors will have major impacts on how these systems can be implemented and managed," said David Anthony Mahdi, research director at Gartner.

Gartner says that phone-as-a-token authentication remains the preferred choice in most new and refreshed token deployments as an alternative to traditional one-time password (OTP) hardware tokens. Gartner projects smartphones will increasingly substitute discrete physical access cards because of the same kinds of cost and user experience benefits. Smartphones using technologies and protocols such as Bluetooth, Bluetooth LE, and Near Field Communication can work with a number of readers and physical access control system technology.

Physical access control system technology is widely deployed across multiple vertical industries and geographies to secure access to buildings, individual offices, data centers, plant rooms, warehouses and other types of facilities, ensuring only employees, contractors, visitors, maintenance staff and other authorized personnel access specific locations.

Smartphones can also simplify integration of biometric technologies. "Rather than having to add biometric capture devices in or alongside readers, the phone itself can easily be used as a capture device for face or voice (or both), with comparison and matching done locally on the phone or centrally," Mahdi added. "This approach also mitigates the risks from an attacker who gains possession of a person's phone."

As Business Insights has previously noted, mobile device adoption in the workplace is not yet mature: four in five of workers surveyed by Gartner received one or more company-issued devices, but desktops are still the most popular corporate device among businesses, with more than half of workers receiving company-issued desktop PCs.

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