Market Insights

2016 in review: We are in the midst of an identity evolution, not revolution

December 15, 2016

In the identity space, 2016 was a year of unprecedented activity. As we look back on the year that was, One World Identity spotlights three macro trends that have emerged. The first is the identity evolution.

There are a slew of technologies that promise to make identity cheaper, more accessible, and easier to implement. Most notably are smartphones; the proliferation of affordable smart phones, coupled with growth in wireless connectivity, has already changed many industries and created tremendous value. However, in identity we’re seeing an evolution — not a revolution. Enterprises and governments are focused on bringing in technology that is compatible and interoperable with legacy systems and analog counterparts.

Many organizations are using new technologies as a companion app of sorts to existing forms. For example, Vodafone, one of the world’s largest telcos, piloted a solution to allow users to access buildings using their mobile phones instead of their physical access card. However, a key requirement of this pilot was to make the solution compatible with existing building access management systems — no retrofitting or Russell Gould (Senior Product Manager – Vodafone). Improving services to user with mobile data management. Trustech, November 2016. Meanwhile, HID Global, a large provider of identity solutions to government and private sector, predicts that while mobile is the next generation ID credential, mobile IDs will be a companion to physical ID cards for at least the next decade.Dominic Tavassoli (VP Product Marketing and Management – HID Global). Mobile and physical cards: replacement or co-existence?. Trustech, December 2016.

There are also some mundane practical challenges to solve with today’s existing infrastructure. For example, the European Association for e-Identity & Security (EEMA) quips that the real enemy of digital IDs is electricity blackouts, predicting that physical cards will continue to exist as a fallback for a long time to come.Dominic Tavassoli (VP Product Marketing and Management – HID Global). Mobile and physical cards: replacement or co-existence?. Trustech, December 2016.

Outdated regulation, user attitudes, and sunk cost in existing infrastructure continue to play large roles in driving the evolutionary nature of these changes. The evolution trend has played out in other industries before, lest we forget that for many of us, our first connections to the internet occupied our phone lines. In the evolution towards autonomous driving, the vehicles Tesla ships today actually already come equipped with all of the physical sensors needed to be self driving. However, the software and regulation are not yet in place for fully autonomous driving. Tesla can push over the air updates to its cars, so by outfitting the cars with the necessary hardware now, they can continue to evolve as the software and regulations catches up. We foresee that players that act like Tesla – building for the future, but with some grounding in the realities of the present, will be successful.

Stay tuned to OWI for part two of this three-part series, detailing the need for standards and interoperability.