What is a card? Is it anything more than a piece of thick, stiff paper or thin pasteboard, in particular one used for writing or printing on? Is it just a small rectangular piece of plastic containing personal data in a machine-readable form and used to obtain cash or credit or to pay for a telephone call, gain entry to a room or building, etc.?

A card is a credential. As such it ensures we can assert our rights and privileges and that we are reminded when due of where these stop and where these become duties. My card entitles me to the next call, transaction or secure interrogation I wish to perform. It may support my own accountable involvement in democratic elections and my crossing borders as a trusted traveller. It also ensures I cannot look elsewhere when I am asked to pay taxes and that a tight control of financial flows is maintained, as it cannot be used to withdraw more than its daily limit from cash machines. A card can mean a lot of things, including an unexpectedly healthy evening when it stops bartenders from serving drinks to someone underage ‘carded’ at a club.

Engaging in technology sourcing activities in an evolving market such as the auto ID arena sees decision makers face complex choices. Cards evolved over the years from simple tokens, easy to manufacture as much as to counterfeit, to hyper-sophisticated keys of modern-time trust models embracing the physical and the digital worlds.

By providing you with this year’s ID WORLD Directory of Top Suppliers of Card Technologies, the ID Community Publications mark yet another milestone in their constant strive to update end-users and integrators, as well as the auto ID industry’s channel partners with essential tools to support their decisions. What we would like to ensure is that – whether you buy card technologies to support your corporate access control system, to badge your students, to reach out to your country’s population or to serve your system’s patients – you are fully informed of where we stand today with regard to the world’s best performing and more convenient technologies of choice.

An informed decision is a better decision. Whether you are outsourcing the design and integration of your credentialing system to a trusted partner or embracing the challenge of doing-it-yourself, with all what it takes in terms of bigger and all too often only relatively smaller choices to make, it simply is wise to take a glance at the options available. Benchmarking is a healthy exercise. Beauty contests are good for your finances. Know what you want and go for what is best for you on the basis of hard facts.

“Cards” is the first Directory released for 2015 on the ID Publications multichannel media platform. We hope you enjoy reading through its comprehensive review of suppliers, products and technologies and trust that it will inspire you to challenge at least some of your assumptions in light of what is new and up to date today. Having published “Cards” since the year 2000, we look forward to constantly updating its records and ensuring it may continue acting as a pivotal resource for the industry and its clients, who still look at cards as at a most stable and proven identification technology, offering the ideal compromise between functionality, economy and compliance, as well as a smart choice for business continuity.