What Does it Mean to be Identity Native in a 5G World?

In a previous post I described an Identity Native organization as a company that has understood, either intuitively or by transformational design, that Identity needs to sit at the centre of everything in the digital world. The advent of 5G networks, combined with advances in digital identity technologies presents telecom carriers with an excellent new opportunity to re-invent themselves as globally trusted digital market participants – by enabling Trust management at the network layer to provide ‘Trust as a Service’ - end-to-end digital identity management of people, devices, connected things and services across interconnected digital ecosystems.

Here’s why. Digital Natives and successful Digital Immigrants share this vision of having Identity at the core of everything they do, and execute upon it through three strategic principles:

  • Digital first – They embrace channel shift and channel expansion, rather than trying to control or contain it. They experiment, lead, innovate and celebrate the effort of failing in their pursuit of digital market differentiation.
  • Customer Centricity -  A relentless drive to build compelling customer experience, with simple journeys that make it easy to buy goods and get service; They listen to feedback and act on it to continuously drive innovation in customer engagement.
  • Data Driven – These companies truly understand that data is the new oil – not just superficially because of its perceived value as a raw material, but because it also both lubricates and fuels the value chain.

There is nothing new in these ideas by themselves, of course. However, where these three principles are being driven together and aligned, that is the path on which you will find Identity Natives. There are some pretty substantial obstacles along the way:

  • To become digital first means to solve for the myriad of channel silos that prevent a company from tracking an individual customer from one silo to the next, moving from ’multi-channel’ to ‘omni-channel.'
  • To be data driven means to learn to distinguish between what is useful and valuable vs what is irrelevant and spurious in a sea of more and more data (which is often incomplete, inaccurate or out of date).
  • To be customer centric requires entire business processes to be deconstructed and re-invented with the customer journey - rather than the product - at the centre of the design, a challenge that is amplified even further by the evolution of digital channels and overwhelming amounts of data.

Apple is a shining example of how successful Digital Migration can be achieved, despite these obstacles. I’m no expert in Apple folklore and legend, but for me the key moment of inflection came with the creation of iTunes, which in turn led to the AppStore, and the ‘AppleID’, which are (from an identity point of view at least) all aspects the same thing – my identity is established, authenticated, and then tied to the range of physical devices from Apple that I use, and then also through to the services I then consume. That identity is unique and persistent, and so allows Apple to understand me as a ‘market of one.’ It is worth saying here I am not talking about identity in the sense that Apple ‘knows’ me – we’ve never met, and are never likely to. The point is that  in the digital world they know me – in fact, you could go as far as to say that in digital terms they define me, at least for their purposes.

What’s also interesting is that where Identity Natives have an elegant Identity Management solution, they are beginning to monetize identity itself – the ability to ‘sign-in with Facebook’ being an excellent example, whereby people can save time filling in forms and registrations on-line by simply pulling their data through from their Facebook account.

This is I think the beginning of an interesting new chapter in digital transformation. With the imminent launch of 5G networks, telecom network operators have the opportunity to become trusted identity providers; not just as custodians of the identity of people, but also for their devices and connected things in the platform-based IoT ecosystems that they underpin. This opportunity holds true both in the consumer IoT world (connected homes, connected cars) and also the industrial IoT world (connected cities, connected manufacturing and logistics).

With the right tools, 5G represents a new opportunity for network providers to re-invent themselves as globally trusted digital market participants; by offering trusted identity management at the network layer they can become key enablers within digital eco-systems, providing the secure connectivity that Identity Natives need to tap into the massive opportunity presented by the billions of things with a digital heartbeat that will be powered by 5G networks, platforms and applications.

To find out more on these topics, please download the ForgeRock white paper ‘The 5G Trust Equation."

Tim is Vice President, Telecommunications and Media Industry, ForgeRock