Natalie Wood, consultant at Teavaro, looks at the trends in increased connectivity and the impact this can have on the marketing relationship with the consumer
Identity of Things (IDoT) is an essential component of today’s digital age where almost anything imaginable can be addressed and networked for the exchange of data online. Within this context, a ‘thing’ can be any entity attached to the plethora of physical and logical objects that an end user or organisation has within their own network. These ‘things’ become the vertebrae within the data spine, with the ability to transfer data seamlessly up, down, and beyond the spine. This creates not only an adaptable profile that has a shared view of consent and data attributes within all environments, but also enables addressability, making it possible for ‘things’ to be targeted and found at every stage of the consumer lifecycle. As we know that ‘things’ themselves each have a varying lifecycle, from Alexa devices to on-demand food deliveries, and will only exist during that lifecycle, but the learnings and analysis of these things will maintain value. To be addressable, an individual (and/or household) must be globally uniquely identifiable, which means that the IDoT’s data spine must be associated with values that traverse all environments seamlessly.
In order to deliver on a true experience in the connected world, vendors must be able to register consumers, connect their portfolio of devices, and manage permissions for that individual across the entire landscape in an efficient, consistent manner. This will result in a live profile of things that streamline the registration and permissions management, meaning that all devices are linked and controlled to only one essential permission grant, while also maintaining the functionality to be changed from any device at any time.
A device should communicate with other devices, networks, end-users, and applications, and this web of devices and signals will be firing constantly. This leads to a huge number of different relationships that must be captured, controlled, and activated. Capturing data is of course the foundation for any link, but this needs to be filtered by the layer of permissions management noted earlier. While capturing, and controlling data sets the IDoT with a foundation of connected data, the way to create value from this enriched profile is to activate it while retaining the changing nature of the information. Whether resulting in a personalised message, reminder on a smart watch or automated ordering of new groceries, the activation is the front line of the IDoT and is seen as the tangible deliverable driven by the back-end of identity management.
In many cases of identity, systems work for human authentication within specific applications or web browsers, allowing for the specification of a unique ID that is assigned to the device stamped by an event such as a user login. Data attributes are often siloed for the same user, for instance if a different email address has been used to authenticate a device. This creates fragmented instances of cross-device connection within the owned 1st party assets if authentication is not always needed or if a reset makes profile identification impossible. This fragmentation grows exponentially when IDoT expands to external environments where the handshake between identity and the user becomes, in most cases, opaque. However, now merchants can go beyond the unique ID that requires menial stitching into a human or household profile, defining a digital data spine. This can be built within the authentication and authorisation phase of individuals engaging with any piece of the IoT. The relationship that is built between the merchant and user provides a clear profile garnered with a formal set of rules which is transparent to the consumer. Transparent permissions give formal approval to connect, and are fully configurable to the preferences of the end user for which thing or use of data is permissible and valued.
Introducing the IDoT architecture is no simple feat, as it requires an owned middle layer infrastructure of ID connectivity to be implemented across function, team, and technology that is configurable to things (devices), use cases, rules, and legislation. This will act as the controller and enabler of addressability in a fast-growing ecosystem, and the size of the prize for getting this right is exponential.