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The Changing Landscape of Identity

Kyle Hollaway Last Updated May 28th, 2020
The Changing Landscape of Identity

As a kid I was fascinated with National Geographic, especially the free map that came with each edition. Every month it was like a whole new area of the world was opened up for me to explore. The really cool part was that they were able to take an entire country, its history, economics and people and summarize them in a way that even an 9-year-old from middle America could understand. The map provided a macro view of the country, while the articles dove into intimate stories of individuals and events. It fed my mind and perspective each month.

I look at industry conferences in a similar way. They provide broad-stroke overviews of industry sectors while providing bite-sized deep dives into topics through keynotes and breakout sessions. I often look forward to attending conferences as I similarly anticipated the mailman dropping off the latest National Geographic. Recently I had the opportunity to attend #KNOW2019, a conference focused on innovations in identity and trust. With the continued rise of both people-based marketing and the growing legislative climate concerning privacy and ethical data use (think GDPR and CCPA), what was once a background topic is now becoming a central concern for enterprises across the martech/adtech ecosystem.

Having been involved with identity in the marketing industry for more than 20 years, I always find it fascinating to attend a topical conference that has the potential to open up new realms of thinking. One of the first things I realized at the conference was how complex the topic of identity has become. It’s no longer a question of collecting clean lists of names and addresses. It is now a multidimensional challenge that covers a number of industry sectors, technologies and strategies. As I see it, the industry maps into six sectors:

  • Control – services and technologies focused on controlling the rights and distribution of identity. This rising sector is wrestling with concepts like self-sovereign identity and individuals’ right to manage how their unique identity attributes are captured, stored and disseminated.
  • Authority – organizations and technologies focused on identity proofing, credentialing and issuing of identity documents. Government and professional groups often fall into this sector. Government IDs, Social Security numbers and educational diplomas are key outputs.
  • Access – services and technologies focused on managing physical or digital access permissions. This sector has broad commercial applications across any industry. Commonly known as IAM (identity and access management) this sector covers everything from security badge manufacturing to biometric controls and user account management systems.
  • Verification – services and technologies focused on confirming identity and mitigating fraud through verifying identity credentials, data and documents. This is usually accomplished by leveraging centralized, multi-sourced data stores of confirmed identity data. This sector focuses on “what you have.”
  • Authentication – services and technologies focused on ensuring the authenticity of an identity with certainty. This sector is concerned with “what you know” to confirm identity often through leveraging out-of-wallet data such as “previously lived on Mulberry Street” or “owned a 2014 Subaru Outback,” to authenticate.
  • Resolution – services and technologies focused on determining an identity based on disparate points of data. This is often accomplished through referential identity graphs that have been compiled from public and commercial data sources to create a composite view of an individual. Enterprises can then leverage the referential data in combination with their own first-party data to build a consistent and complete view of their audience or population. This sector is highly integrated in martech/adtech industry solutions.

While a number of the sectors aren’t central to martech/adtech, we can learn so much from understanding how each is approaching the challenge of recognizing individuals with consistency and accuracy across a myriad of touch points and interactions. Even now many of the capabilities once thought relegated to a particular sector are starting to find relevance in other sectors.

Case in point: there is a rising interest in “gated offers.” This is a concept anchored in resolution but requires the services and technology in the verification sector. Gated offers are special marketing offers targeted to a particular segment of qualified individuals, such as military personnel or certified teachers. For consumers to get access to the discount or offer, they must verify their inclusion in the qualified segment. Enabling this requires a blend of identity resolution and verification capabilities. I believe we will continue to see a rise in these types of blended, cross-sector solutions.

As brands continue to move toward true people-based marketing and delivering exceptional experiences for consumers it is important they develop enterprise-level strategies for identity management and integration. The challenge is only becoming more complex, while at the same time becoming more critical to economic success.

Looking for help assembling the right identity strategy and foundation to support all your marketing tactics? Visit our Omnichannel Identity Solutions web page.

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