June 2020 – The role of Identities in your Digital Transformation journey

Article submitted by Richard Craig – Principal Consultant

Under the current global conditions, almost every business is looking to accelerate their digital transformation. Business services that previously required person to person interfaces are being replaced by digital channels. Customers’ interactions via digital channels with businesses are accelerating at a rapid pace.

At the core of a digital transformation strategy is identity. Identity is an underpinning layer of a digital transformation strategy from a customer, partner and employee perspective. Identity is a key building block for systems and applications. From a customer perspective it starts with the registration process where a digital identity is created for a customer. From that point on it ensures that the customer has control over their identity data that a business has access to. It also ensures that the customer has secure access to the various capabilities a business is providing to them in a frictionless manner.

Customers expect a consistent, easy to use, digital interaction with an organisation. Any transactional digital channel should be protected with multi factor authentication and with capabilities like password less authentication becoming a reality, businesses need to ensure their digital channels keep up pace with these new capabilities. A customer should also have the ability to decide what a business does with their data and consent to the sharing of this data with third parties.

Building all these capabilities can be time consuming and when there are multiple points of entry to an organisation, via the various digital platforms, it can become difficult to ensure a consistent customer journey and associated identity for customers. Many large organizations require customers to maintain multiple accounts (identities) for their different business channels. Ensuring a unified identity and associated processes for identity management will help ensure a smooth frictionless customer experience and provide the ability to cross sell to customers across all business channels. A unified platform for customer data provides a central place to manage customer data privacy and ensure compliance with security standards.

There is currently continuous pressure to deliver new features and capabilities to customers. Building, procuring and delivering these capabilities at an accelerated pace has become reality. Having a common identity security foundation to deploy these capabilities onto ensure a faster time to market. Having a standards based identity security platform will ensure quicker time to market by providing capabilities like:

  • A unified customer profile and associated identity self service capabilities
  • Standards based methods for authentication and authorization
  • Multi factor and risk based authentication in an omnichannel environment
  • Collecting customer insight to build brand loyalty and personalized customer experiences.
  • Ensure new products and capabilities get to market without custom writing of authentication logic.
  • Building trust with customers by giving them control of their data via a consent capability.
  • Accelerating digital adoption by providing social account login and registration processes including progressive profiling.
  • Scale based on demand.

Traditional employee based identity management systems are built for specific employee based use cases and do not align to the requirements of customer identity. Although there is overlap, employee identity management is ensuring a reduction in risk by limiting choice and centrally managing identities. In the context of a customer, it is about attracting and retaining customers while giving the customer choice and control of their digital journey. Customer identity security needs to be reliable and scale based on demand to reach the millions of identities that need to be managed. Employee based systems normally only scale to the thousands and do not provide the reliability or scale required. This does not mean a single capability cannot be leveraged for customers, partners and employees authentication and authorization, but that use cases beyond this need to be addressed on a case by case basis.

With the many challenges businesses are facing as part of a digital transformation journey, it is critical that a robust identity security capability is included as part of this. Having a secure identity platform as a base building block will help ensure a businesses successful digital transformation journey.