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The evolution of digital identities

January 11, 2021 by David Britton, VP of Industry Solutions

As the world witnessed, the Covid-19 pandemic led to a swift and dramatic digital explosion. As lockdowns began, our day-to-day quickly shifted to a virtual environment. Now, on the back of this widespread response, businesses are forced to rethink their customer engagement model. And, with new digital-first customer journeys, there must be a shift to recognize customers in a predominantly digital way as well. The concept of identity – even digital identity – must evolve.


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Digitally observable information

Recently, I spoke with Juniper Research about this imperative. After analyzing the global digital identity market, they’ve offered insights on current dynamics and trends shaping its future in their Digital Identity Report 2020-2025. Importantly, as we progress digital identities, we must consider more than what a user might typically provide about themselves. We must include digitally observable information, which forms part of a consumer’s digital identity. This data includes their device (what they use), and behavioral insights (how they use the device or interact with an app or website). It even includes the specific context of their efforts (what they are doing), such as signing up for an account, moving money, making a payment, virtual window shopping, etc.

Related story: View digital identity market trends infographic

Intelligent data processing

Of course, pulling these kinds of observations together in a meaningful and useful way requires intelligent data processing. This need leads to the use of technologies such as advanced analytics and machine learning to help make sense of the broad streams of data. The double benefit of understanding how to use this aggregated data is that, given the transparent and passive nature of observing data of this nature, it can be used without requiring the consumer to “do” anything other than going about their business. So, businesses can achieve multiple benefits by adopting a forward-looking stance to identity, including reduced risk of fraud, improved customer experience, and stronger consumer/business relationships, which ultimately leads to increased top-line growth.

Consumer privacy preferences

Finally, to maintain consumer trust as we progress, it’s important to acknowledge consumer privacy preferences. Given consumers’ concerns around privacy and security, this is an important element within the path forward. Businesses that are transparent around the use of data have been shown to garner greater consumer trust than those that don’t offer that transparency. So, any reimagining of digital identity must also have “privacy by design” as a foundation to the approach – not only to meet growing regulatory demands – but, more importantly, to manage consumer expectations.


“[It’s] estimated that in 2024 over $43 billion will be lost due to online payment fraud. As we carry on into an unknown future, disrupted by the pandemic, this interwoven nature of identity-security-privacy will play a vital part in making sure our internet, workplace, government services, and banking are safe havens.” -Digital Identity Report 2020-2025, Juniper Research


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Learn more about:

  • Importance of the evolution of digital identities, including the ability to manage and access the growing volume of online accounts.
  • Advancement of the identity space occurring through the simplified transmission of information via APIs, but the challenge remaining to ensure data is valid, authentic, and from an authorized person.
  • Government attempts at digital identities have faced many challenges, but these use cases continue to progress the development of the digital identity landscape.
  • Benefits to fraud management through the adoption of digital identities can be tremendous – decreasing risk by decoupling identities from transactions, making them more secure from both ends.
  • Usability is king – a good customer experience underlying the use of digital identities will be critical to adoption, and therefore success.
  • Maturation of identity offerings is currently occurring and what’s likely to be successful includes solutions that simplify identity services and those that rely on broader ecosystems.
  • Remote working changes the enterprise approach, with the adoption of Zero Trust Architectures and relevant supporting technologies continuing to emerge to create a safe, yet flexible working environment.
  • The digital identity competitive landscape is evaluated, including vendor analysis and Juniper’s leaderboard.

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