Government of the segments by the segments for the segments
Last week, a new business opportunity was revealed to UK retailers they could become the front office for the government:
ID cards are on time, and on budget
What are UK retailers to make of this offer?
Italy (population 58 million) has a national network of about 8,000 ID card registration centres. The Netherlands (17m) has or plans about 4,000 centres. The UK (61m) was recommended in one study to set up a network of about 2,000 centres, a curiously low number, but not as low as the number IPS came up with, 69.
If IPS arent going to set up a sensible channel for their product ID cards then they have to use someone elses. Thus the Front Office Services Prospectus, an opportunity to partner with one of the UKs most trusted brands The British Passport:
The most likely way services will be provided, we believe, is via fixed facilities in retail outlets that meet all relevant standards ... Fixed facilities will ideally be located in areas with good transport links and existing customer footfall, such as high streets or large shopping centres providing easy and convenient access for customers.
Biometric equipment costs money to acquire and to maintain. It takes up space, people queuing to use it take up space, and space costs money. Staff have to be trained how to use the equipment, and staff cost money.
All that space and all those staff could be used to sell high margin goods. Why should retailers consider this IPS opportunity? Theyre not in the biometrics registration business. Theyre in the groceries business or the holidays business or whatever. What will biometrics registration do for their gross profit per square foot? IPSs answer:
The organisations that we work with will be able to benefit from:
Time to be sceptical. 28 risks for prospective suppliers to the NIS are well known. Here are some additional matters for Chief Executives to consider:
Footfall and customer segments
Increased footfall could mean a lot of people with no natural interest in a retailers products walking into the shop because they have to, not because they want to.
After a while the retailer, too, may wish they were somewhere else.
There are a lot of people out there. 61 million of them. That could be a lot of revenue. But there are risks. If Labour lose power, the NIS will be cancelled. Why have BT withdrawn their name from the candidate list of suppliers to the NIS? And BAe Systems? And Accenture? If the government cant set up its own front office, why should retailers be able to? Remember, the banks have already refused.
Which Chief Executive will take on these risks?
Maybe some will. But more likely, IPS will have to be serious and build its own distribution network. Like the Italians. And the Dutch.
* UK Passport Service Biometrics Enrolment Trial, May 2005, p.120 onwards
David Moss has spent six years campaigning against the Home Office's ID card scheme.