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I know who Paul Calf is and I definitely recognised him. I know who Oprah is, although I might not recognise her. I don’t know who William is, and I definitely won’t recognise him. They all want good service though.

You might think I’m biased, but as has become clear to me from some of the projects that my colleagues at Consult Hyperion have been working on recently — for banks, schemes, acquirers etc — identity is moving up the strategic priority list. It’s becoming a strategic issue for a great many businesses and a great many parts of businesses. Steve Shoaff from UnboundID summarised this rather neatly when he said that

Every customer-facing business is in the identity business; whether they know it or not

[From Privacy Identity Innovation PII 2014: Insights on the “Economics of Identity” | UnboundID Blog]

The corollary to this is, of course, that control over identity is becoming an actual battleground and it is not at all clear, even to those of us who follow developments obsessively, who is going to win. I suppose we rather lazily used to assume that it would be governments (the “continental” model) or banks (the “scandinavian” model) who would step in to provide the kind of identity that we need to function in the new, online economy. Since they haven’t, it’s been clear for a while that there is potential for other to step in. I use my British Passport now and then, but I might use my Waitrose Passport or my LinkedIn Passport or my Microsoft Passport (I know, I know) a great deal more frequently.

Who wants to be an Identity Provider? A lot more companies than know it today.

[From Identity Assurance: Who wants to be an Identity Provider? – Identity, Privacy and Trust]

This isn’t just about companies becoming identity providers. They will also become identity consumers. If Oprah Winfrey walks into your handbag shop then you want to know about which of her many forms of identification and authentication are in play. It might be face recognition. It might an app on her phone. It might be the phone company. It might be her smart watch or Google Glass or Fitbit of whatever.

The Black Eyed Peas star posted a series of tweets hitting out at United Airlines after reportedly being told to leave a VIP lounge because staff thought he had a fake membership card.

[From Will.i.am. launches furious Twitter rant after he is ‘kicked out of first class airport lounge’ | Mail Online]

I didn’t pay any attention to this is because a) it was in the Daily Mail, so I took it for link bait rather than news, b) I’d never heard the Black Eye peas (so I went on YouTube – let me tell you, the Pink Fairies they are not) and c) I don’t know who William is. When I mentioned this on Twitter, a correspondent wrote to tell me that he had recently been in a meeting with him and his name is actually Will.i.am — I don’t know why — and had found him to be a) really smart and b) really nice. But I was putting together some note for my keynote on recognition as a key trend in the retail space for the Customer Festival down in Melbourne last year so the reason I made a mental note of it was because William clearly had a smartphone with him (he was tweeting) and I didn’t understand why this wasn’t used to solve the problem (the problem of demonstrating that the person at the counter had the attribute IS_A_MILEAGEPLUS_MEMBER). Maybe he’s not on LinkedIn.

When I go to the BA lounge at one airport or another — where, by the way, I saw Paul Calf the other day and he wasn’t able to find a seat for lunch any more than I was — they scan the barcode presented by my BA app. Surely United staff could have an app that could check William’s app. I doubt it will be that long before the BA lounge will sprout Bluetooth beacons so that my app opens automatically as I walk into the lounge and does the necessary mutual authentication to enable me to get to the scones and jam unhindered.

The development of the smart phone as a tool for document verification and authentication has major implication for the industry

[From Authentication and the Smart Phone Revolution — Counting On Currency]

I agree completely, especially when the documents being authenticated are actually other smartphones.

1 comment

  1. The challenge will not so much with the identity of customers and desirable potential customers (for whom one can budget) but with the subject access requirements of the draft European Data Protection Regulation as this could require every organisation to respond to anyone (anywhere) about what personal information they have on them. That you don’t have an account is interesting for masquerading, so you need to be sure it’s the right person whether or not they are or were a customer. How this should be done may be left as a ‘detail’ for the Commission to sort out: a blank cheque in old-speak.

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