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Business Automation with NFC Technology

 

Simple NFC Tags can be programed to help you automate basic tasks in your office and home (P1)

Wireless technologies are increasingly being adapted to maximize efficiency, giving consumers and organizations efficient solutions for everyday tasks. In particular, the rapid growth and utilization of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is enabling innovative business automation solutions around the world, changing how businesses interact with their clients and partners

NFC is a standards-based wireless communication technology that enables communication between devices that are just a few centimeters apart from each other. This technology has been integrated into the last several generations of mobile phones and is currently revolutionizing payment transaction, and customer loyalty systems around the world. Corporations at home in Sri Lanka too are utilizing NFC technologies to streamline their processes and services.

Business transactions typically come with multiple stages of approvals to keep things transparent and in order. Many businesses now use, or are in the process of switching to, digital systems such as computerized Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to help them keep track of the information they generate. This transition is difficult as it is common for such information to be captured with traditional data entry methods, i.e. pieces of paper including; notices, receipts, and approvals. This requires people within the company to re-enter the data from the piece of paper into their computer system; a practice that not just wastes both time and paper, but also makes the system prone to errors.

In this article we look at 3 different solutions facilitated by Axionent Pvt Ltd, a Sri Lankan NFC Technology solutions company, to help businesses in different industries implement digital data capture methods for their sales executives and delivery personnel working offsite. These data capture methods update the company’s digital records in real time, increasing transparency and efficiency while removing double entry errors altogether.

 
 
micro finance nfc system

NFC enabled POS devices capture customer and payment details and print receipts on site (P2)

Offsite detail entry for field executives

Micro finance companies operating in rural areas require field executives to visit clients in their villages to provide company services and collect payments. Previously these executives had the onerous task of recording customer transaction details in a book before heading back to office just to re-enter this information into the company’s computerized system. This limited the number of locations a field executive could visit in a day and delayed the verification of customer payments. In addition to this, double entry mistakes were common when updating accounts, which when combined with the previously mentioned issues did not help these micro finance companies win the trust and loyalty of their clients. Until the introduction of an NFC based solution for the industry.

Field executives were given NFC enabled POS (Point of Sale) devices that could record transactions and print out receipts for customers, while simultaneously updating the company’s computer records. All the customer needed to do was tap the finance company issued NFC card on to the reader for their information to be verified and their payment details to be updated.

This system brought a host of benefits to both the micro finance companies as well as their customers. For starters, field executives no longer needed to constantly return to office to update the computer system manually and could instead visit more clients. Managers at the micro finance companies had a real time look into their company’s position and could attract more customers with higher level of responsiveness and a better overall service. At the same time, customers could receive receipts, check their balance, and verify their payment details instantly without having to wait for the company’s computerized system to be updated. All of which improved their confidence in their respective micro finance companies.

 
 
Delivery person with NFC reader

Delivery personal can now verify customer IDs and push delivery notices to their system as the deliveries are made (P3)

Paperless Delivery notices and receipts

Being one of the largest and most premium bottled water brands in Sri Lanka, Aquafresh has been handling its own distribution for the last 16 years through their fleet of sealable lorries, in-order to uphold their stringent hygiene standards.

While the company bills their customers at the end of every month, customers require a notice on delivery. And Aquafresh also needs to update their records with the number of successful and failed deliveries, in cases where the customer was unavailable to collect their water, in order to plan the delivery routes for the next day. With the previous system, this task was done at the end of the day once the lorries had returned from their deliveries.

By introducing an NFC enabled POS system, Aquafresh was able to streamline its delivery service for their 5 gallon water canisters. Customers were given an NFC card they had to tap on delivery to print a delivery receipt and update Aquafresh’s delivery system. The system was integrated with a GPS which allowed the company to track each lorry as well as the success of each of its deliveries. This allowed them to plan the next day’s deliveries even before the lorries had completed their route. Additional time savings was also realized as; there was no need to manually re-enter data from deliveries into the company’s computer system, and the new system directly programmed each day’s delivery route directly into the truck’s GPS system simplifying coordination.

 
 
nfc fuel card

The Touch Corporate Fuel Card is used by many companies to manage employee fuel reimbursements (P4) **Touch is a trademark of Dialog PLC**

Prepaid fuel cards

Companies handle multiple stipends that are distributed to their employees every month to reimburse fuel expenses and other miscellaneous expenses. Every organization has a method in place to process employee reimbursement requests. These requests typically have to go through a bureaucratic process of approvals before being signed off on. Which is not only time consuming, but also a waste of personnel resources.

An NFC Fuel card system is now implemented at many large local companies, to address these issues, at least when it comes to reimbursing fuel expenses. Each employee with a fuel allowance is given a card and the company is able to top up their fuel allowance directly to this card. Employees can use this card to pay up to the allotted amount at all partner fuel stations. The system records details such as when and at which fuel stations these cards were used at, allowing companies to have a centralized system to track fuel expenditures efficiently without being subject to a time consuming approval process.

 
 
Portable POS with NFC Reader

The benefits of NFC applications for business are just being realised (P5)

Conclusion

Technologies such as NFC can be integrated into ERP systems to add greater efficiency to a range of business processes. From inventory planning to employee reimbursements, and loyalty systems to logistics solutions, many of the NFC solutions implemented have helped companies save money and optimize their operations. The flexibility of the technology allows it to be integrated into tailor made solutions to suit a specific business process, giving organizations greater control over how they maximize their operations and grow in a world where technology is changing how we do business.

   

References

Images:

P1. Axionent Pvt Ltd

P2. Axionent Pvt Ltd

P3. Axionent Pvt Ltd

P4. Axionent Pvt Ltd

P5. Axionent Pvt Ltd

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