Gartner: Half of new consumer identities to be linked to social media by 2015

Turns out that social media will reveal -- or determine -- how many more retail customer identities are shaped by 2015, based on a new report.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Turns out the predicted links between e-commerce and social media are actually valid, based on a new report from Gartner.

The IT research and advisory firm published a report on Tuesday forecasting that at least half of all new retail customer identities will be based on and reflective of social networking profiles and usage by 2015.

To understand just how much of a leap this is, Gartner compared that prediction for the end of 2015 to the rate of less than five percent of online retail consumers today.

Ant Allan, a research vice president at Gartner, explained in the report that this primarily boils down to authentication, which is evolving to be the most direct link between social networks and online profiles for e-commerce services and online stores.

For an increasing number of Internet users, social networks are the Internet. Using ‘login with Facebook’ — or other popular social networks — reduces friction and therefore improves users' experience of customer registration and subsequent login. For registration, the required personal information can be imported from users' social profiles, reducing — if not eliminating — form filling. Moreover, using a social network identity means users don't have to remember rarely used passwords or endure convoluted password reset processes when they forget them.

Besides jumping some basic hurdles such as awareness about these technologies to convincing reluctant consumers (and businesses), security is the biggest roadblock.

But Gartner researchers aren't too worried actually.

Allen assured in the report that setting up user authentication services for social networks is "no worse than the practices currently used by many businesses" for making purchases, continuing further that social networks might actually be ahead of the game.

This is because social network analysis can potentially identify bogus social identities, and some vendors can exploit the ‘wisdom of crowds’ to verify claimed social network identities. There will be increased demand for specialized vendors that support this use of social network identities, as well as for support for the OAuth and OpenID Connect specifications in traditional IAM vendors' Web access management and federation products.

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