Identity claiming spot in digital economy

Identity claiming spot in digital economy

Summary: Digital exhaust left by NSA frames researcher's seven points on the future of identity

TOPICS: Enterprise 2.0

Broomfield, Colo. — Identity is shaping up as a convergence point in the digital economy and a central focus in the future of technology, economics, politics and law, according to Ray Wang, co-founder of Constellation Research and the opening speaker at this year's Defrag Conference.

Ray Wang identity authentication mobile social video big data cloud enterprise
Constellation Research's Ray Wang

"Identity is becoming this crux," said Wang. "And is sitting at the middle of so many different things, I think we are going to see a lot in the future and a big battle there."

Wang laid out seven points on the future of identity. Points that focused less on the technology and its underpinning and more on how identity fits into larger frameworks around politics, economics and law as they exist in a digital world.

"How much identity, how much information are we willing to share to trade for convenience? That is the context here."

Wang is nothing short of super-charged about figuring out how identity becomes part of the digital mesh and how (and why) that will happen. In fact, Constellation in August created a research area around identity and hired a digital identity specialist to lead the charge.

"The NSA scandal has opened people's eyes to what digital exhaust is out there," said Wang.

He noted businesses are fighting over who will own the end-user ID, that legal boundaries are murky as the industry continues to push ahead of legislators who are nearly a decade behind, and the all important convergence among mobile, social, cloud, big data and video.

In this context, Wang has created an identity manifesto. Seven points that each have context on a political, economic, social, technology, environmental and legislative level.

"They hit us in a big way," Wang said. "What we are taking about is identity, not the technology, it is about the implications identity will have. Identity is being manifested in technology because we are digitizing. And that is why we have to be careful about it."

Wang's manifesto offers these seven points:

  1. B2B and B2C are dead. It’s a P2P and M2M world.
  2. Users want identity the way they want it.
  3. Identirati must move identity from geek to chic.
  4. Context will drive future use cases.
  5. Disruptive business requires identity.
  6. Privacy isn’t dead.  It’s up to the identirati to guide us out of the morass.
  7. New players are battling to orchestrate, manage and own your identity.

From the top of his list, Wang said work and personal life are converging into a P2P model – people-to-people, peer-to-peer – and that machines will have IDs – a reference to the Internet of Things trend.

Users are demanding to use the identity they have and not the one that is issued to them.  "They want convenience, they want you to know 'it's me,' " he said.

Wang also said identity has to come out from behind the geeks and be implemented in an easy-to-use way. "Users don't want manuals." He said identity has to be scalable to move with the devices, the end-points, the protocols and other pieces. And he said standards are key.

Context will allow users to divorce themselves from B2B and B2C, to connect to objects, things, and actions. Context considers location and dimension of time. Sentiment also is important, he said.

In terms of disruptive business requirements, Wang said a connected world of sharing documents, ideas, and commerce is one area where identity has to be done right. "A lot of digital business is counting on identity, and it is happening very quickly."

Wang said privacy is not dead and that identity will help keep it alive. "It is up to us to make the rules. It is up to us to say privacy is not dead." He pointed out the European Union's strict  privacy policies and said the "U.S. is the Canary Islands of privacy."

Finally, Wang said there is a lot of money at stake to create, manage and own user IDs. "Everyone says they are in the identity business, everybody has an interest and wants a small piece." He says the battle will play out over the next three to five years, 'watch who buys who, who picks up which authorizations, who collaborates with who."

Wang called out Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft as the only four vendors who can own the roads from cloud to mobile device. "They are in good place, their networks are big, and they are pervasive."

Topic: Enterprise 2.0


John Fontana is a journalist focusing on authentication, identity, privacy and security issues. Currently, he is the Identity Evangelist for strong authentication vendor Yubico, where he also blogs about industry issues and standards work, including the FIDO Alliance.

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  • He misses the point

    I agree that how we define, protect, and regulate digital identity is shaping up as one of the essential questions at the intersection of technology, commerce, privacy, and politics. The 7 points listed seem vague, simplistic, and narrowly focused. In real life identity is a fluid concept. We have a social identity, a family identity, a professional identity, a customer identity, a political identity and myriad other identities. Those identities exist because different situations require different standards of behavior, different levels of personal information, and different levels of privacy. Walt Whitman once noted that "I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes" that is an essential part of the human condition. Digital identity needs to allow for certainty in financial transactions and similar functions, while allowing for anonymity, privacy, and fluidity of identity in social, and cultural interactions.
  • Wang

    This toon seems pretty intent on creating his own 'identity' by using unknown catch phrases that the rest of us techies never heard of before.
    • Agreed

      Right. What are B2B and B2C and M2M? Most of us know what P2P means - and it's the only term defined in the article. John Fontana, the author, and his subject Ray Wang do themselves, and us, no service by leaving apparently important terms undefined. I fault Fontana in particular as he is communicating with a wider audience. Apparently he's unaware of who his audience is, which is a critical oversight for any author. You make your audience feel dumb or out of it and they'll discount you as well.