My Perception of Identity
It’s day 11 of working as an intern at ForgeRock and I’m already amazed (dumbfounded) at the power digital identity has in the world. It’s incredibly important for businesses and consumers, and is literally everywhere in the digital realm. So many of us, though, don’t realize how identity comes into play in our online experiences hundreds of times every day. The capabilities and functions of digital identity still make my head spin because it’s relevant for every industry, company, user, device, and even things that haven’t been invented yet.
As a millennial and human, I'm very aware of who I am. There are countless questions I ask myself every day relating to my own identity. Not just how do I perceive myself, but how do my loved ones, my peers, and my coworkers view me? And now, thanks to a thing called customer identity, I’ve started thinking, how do companies perceive me? How are different departments of different companies recognizing me? Do they know me better than I know myself? I’m not naive, I know that every website I visit collects and analyzes every bit of information they can get from me, but now all I can think about is how badly I want them to do it correctly. If you’re going to use my identity and everything that comes with it, I want the best experience possible. Since I’m the customer, I want my own customer journey to be pothole free! I’ve been told the appropriate corporate buzzword for this is “omnichannel.”
So far during this internship, I’ve mostly focused my marketing efforts on the retail industry. As a marketer (and seasoned shopaholic) I understand how important it is for retailers to know their customers. With every drop of data they can get from me and each of my devices, the more they should be able to do for me. When I search for a product online and then see it later in my email or on another website, I no longer take it as a sign from above to buy it. I do, however, think about it more because it’s now being promoted on my Instagram, in an ad on the side of my browser, and being suggested to me the next time I peruse the original website. Creepy? Yes. Effective? Definitely. I know that it’s there because of personal data linked to my digital identity. But there’s so much more to identity than powering advertising for retailers.
The variety of organizations that use ForgeRock shows that the need for identity has no limits. Businesses like the BBC, Toyota, Amer Sports, and different governments depend on ForgeRock to solve their identity challenges. Any organization that interacts with users, devices, and things online needs digital identity. This is just the beginning! After only a couple weeks at ForgeRock, I can’t stop thinking of the incredible possibilities when it comes to all of the companies and industries we could work with. What if we partnered with some major companies in the travel industry to help plan the perfect, personalized vacation based on identity preferences? Or worked with healthcare providers to create smarter hospital visits based on historic traits linked to identity? By using digital identity to deliver tailored products and services, we can help make these experiences possible.
While identity is incredibly powerful, it also needs to be secure, and used intelligently and ethically. As consumers, we need to trust that our identities are safe and won’t be compromised by bad business practices. That our personal data will not be leaked, stolen, or sold to the highest bidder. Although the line is blurring between the physical and digital world, we’re still humans and we still deserve the right to privacy, consent, and control over our identity. So as we make these incredible technological advances, we must still remember:
“With great power, comes great responsibility,” - Uncle Ben from Spider-Man, and the other people who said it first.