Does the idea of a corporate microchip implanted into your body make you squirm, or are you fascinated by the possibilities?
“Hold your breath – one … two … [stab].”
A Wisconsin-based marketing company (Three Square Market) recently hired a piercing professional to inject microchips into 50 of its staff. The radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips are encased in glass capsules about the size of a large grain of rice. They were injected into the fleshy part of participants’ hands, between the forefinger and thumb.
Sounds like something from a corporate dystopia, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, all of the microchipped individuals were entirely voluntary – along with a handful of journalists who were eager to see what it was like.
What can the microchips do?
At present, not much. It’s entirely internal to Three Square Market’s office, where microchipped staff can wave their hand to open doors, unlock computers and pay for items in the kiosk, provided the systems have the software installed and a contactless chip reader.
But in the future, the possibilities of human microchips are only limited by the scale of the technology’s implementation. Scannable items such as passports, drivers’ licenses and credit cards would no longer be necessary. Car keys could become a thing of the past, and of course home automation systems would be operable with a wave of the hand.
There’s a good example of microchips in play in Sweden, where a company named BioHax has implanted nearly 3000 customers with chips that enable them to ride the national rail system without having the show the conductor a ticket.
For data analysts, the potential flood of information from microchip use within a company is alluring – data could be collected every time an employee makes a purchase, enters the building, or uses a photocopier.
Can microchipped people be tracked remotely?
Not yet. The microchips aren’t a GPS device, but are entirely passive until they come within a few centimetres of a compatible reader, just like a bank card. Pet owners familiar with the technology know that microchipped pets can’t be located remotely if they go missing – instead, owners must wait until their pets are handed into a vet with a chip scanner.
Will employee microchips one day be compulsory?
At Three Square, over 60% of the company volunteered to be microchipped. The remaining 40% had a range of reasons for demurring, including a dislike of needles, a fear of having foreign objects in their bodies, and privacy concerns.
The concern is that if this technology becomes mainstream, a refusal to allow your company to embed you may lead to losing out on a promotion, raise, or simply being seen as “not a team player”. Forward thinking legislators in Pennsylvania have already introduced a bill to outlaw mandatory chip embedding, with a spokesperson saying: “If the tech is out there, what’s to stop an employer from saying either you do this, or you can’t work here anymore?”
Another issue is that with an increasingly mobile workforce, a chip that only works within the walls of a single organisation would become useless once that person leaves. One day, perhaps you would simply have your chip deactivated upon your exit interview and re-calibrated by your next employer, but this isn’t yet the case. Of those 50 volunteers at Three Square Market, it’s likely that a handful will move on to other roles within the next few months, but what becomes of their chips? The company won’t be happy with non-employees being able to open doors with a wave of their hands, so will the chips be (painfully) removed? Perhaps they will simply be deactivated, meaning users are left with a useless piece of “abandonware” technology embedded in their hands.
In other procurement news this week:
Are emerging professionals being paid more than experienced hands in procurement?
- Based on 3808 responses across the United States, ISM’s 2017 Salary Survey revealed that emerging professionals (with under 9 years’ experience) are earning nearly $5000 more per annum than experienced professionals (with 9+ years).
- This suggests that organisations are having to offer higher salaries to attract new talent.
- The survey also revealed the following average salaries: CPOs – $259,340, VPs – $135,757, Directors – $153,347, Managers – $109,401.
Coupa appoints new Chief Marketing Officer
- Cloud-based spend management company, Coupa Software, has announced that digital marketing executive and veteran software industry marketer Chandar Pattabhiram has joined the company as its chief marketing officer (CMO).
- Named one of five CMOs to follow this year by LinkedIn, Pattabhiram has more than 23 years of experience in both fast-paced and large technology companies including Marketo, IBM, Badgeville, Cast Iron Systems, Jamcracker, and Anderson Consulting (now Accenture).
Intel to build a fleet of self-driving cars
- Intel announced last week that it will build 100 high-automated cars to test self-driving technology.
- The project will showcase Intel’s $15 billion acquisition of Mobileye, which closed this week. Israel-based Mobileye makes technology that helps vehicles “see”; collecting, analysing and transmitting data about the outside world.