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Customer identities are the result of the ongoing consolidation of data from various sources, including initial registration information, payment data, search requests, purchase history or help-desk interaction. Consumers use various devices to access required services and they use different accounts in different contexts.

Ahead of the Consumer Identity Summit (Paris 22nd and 23rd November) Laurent Charreyron, Identity and Privacy expert at KuppingerCole, discusses the main issues that frame the debate around putting the consumer in control of their digital identities.

People are tired of profiling and ad-retargeting and of an obsolete vendor-centric customer relationship model. And at the same time, established brands and businesses are freaked out by the “uber-ization” syndrome where they feel under threat from digital startups whom are successfully capturing consumers. It follows that they must quickly regain intimacy with the customer.

At the same time, European governments are fighting for the sovereignty of the consumer and passing stronger regulation around privacy, transparency and the responsible stewardship of user data.

The balance is shifting between users, brands, and platforms. Many question the long-term efficiency of platform economics and of the freemium model around content and services. And it all boils down to the value, ownership and control of user data.

Successful services deliver true value and re-establish an intimate, respectful, and truly personalized relationship with the user. An experience which is pertinent because it understands things like context and intention.

The idea that the user is the primary controller of its own data (even though there is no such thing as “data ownership” from a legal standpoint) is beginning to gain traction and will clearly change a lot of things. It puts digital identity at the core of the matter, because fundamentally the ultimate data integration platform is the user itself. It is the only place where information silos can be federated to provide better and more efficient customer interactions.

CRM and IAM (Identity and Access Management) are converging : C-IAM

Yet in terms of online privacy of user data, people don’t always do what they say. This is called the “Privacy Paradox” where people are genuinely concerned about the abuse of personal data, but in reality they keep using ever more intrusive services, such as Apple’s Siri, or Amazon’s Alexa.

Its also true that people will gladly share personal data with Service Providers they trust. But trust is a complex construct. In general, consumers will trust a service which:

Consumer Identity Summit1) is provided by a known brand or is recommended by other users or is certified by trusted organisations (“trusted third parties”)

2) delivers tangible value

3) which they have positively experienced three times

Moreover, there is a confusion between “privacy” – a legal concept, and “intimacy” – a psychological notion. Consumers tend to react negatively when their intimacy is jeopardized, and when the user experience is poor – like being asked for the same information AGAIN and AGAIN.

Successful services deliver true value and re-establish an intimate, respectful, and truly personalized relationship with the user. An experience which is pertinent because it understands things like context and intention. They also deliver an experience which is transparent about what information it requests in exchange for using a service.

Google, Facebook and Amazon have caught up on the “intimacy” part all –right but they are struggling with the “respectful” dimension. On the other hand, established brands lack the wealth of information from multiple internet touchpoints, essential to providing a personalized experience.

Because the ultimate data integration platform is the user itself, network operators and mobile service providers are best positioned to provide a unique set of built-in privacy services that will provide the equivalent of a “Privacy Sphere”.

These services could be the equivalent of privacy libraries or blockchain-based messaging systems for example. Services could also be a trusted virtual place where the user can expose personal data and behaviour, and choose to share – or not, investment intentions with respectful vendors.  An integration point for all data collected from home devices, wearable, traffic data, and/or banking transactions.

Laurent CharreyronLaurent Charreyron

Identity and Privacy expert


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The debate is defined around several key questions: How will organisations manage customer identities? Can they technically scale to the challenge? What innovative on-boarding and engagement models will be developed? What about consent management and other legal obligations? And the big question: if, and how much people are willing to pay for such services.

All these questions (and many use cases) will be discussed by the best experts, at the European Consumer Identity Summit, organized by CXP Group and KuppingerCole November 22 & 23, in Paris.

MEF Members can take advantage of a discounted delegate pass here.