Identity Transformation is an end-state where you understand an identity so well, you can predict what that identity will do next and have the ability to potentially alter  its decisions. That  sounds sort of nefarious and scary, but it really isn’t, if you’ll allow me to explain.

Let’s establish some basic principles. The Identity Transformation journey begins with Identity Management (IdM), from managing simple employee profiles to guiding a complex ecosystem of employees, partners, devices, customers, and the relationships that connect and influence them. The idea is that we are evolving generic workplace profiles into new super profiles that blend work, social, health, activities, devices, and smart environments.

In an enterprise, as well as any public social network, the lowest common denominator between all the applications, systems, features, activities, is an identity. The beauty of an identity platform or infrastructure is its goal of managing a master profile against sub-profiles that could represent that same identity. For example, while Rhon Daguro is my master identity, on twitter my handle is @rdaguro, on Google+ it is R2theD, and on LinkedIn I may be rhonD; you get the picture. People have aliases, and the sum of the behaviors of all the aliases makes up the full 360 view of that identity, customer or employee.

These new uses cases forced an evolution of IdM to assume profiles for consumers, partners, and other variations of an identity. But these systems have been traditionally limited only to attributes and identity aliases.

The evolution from enterprise to partners to consumers still wasn’t enough. These technologies don’t know how to store, analyze, and report on all the modern day definitions of an identity. Identities can now be:

  • a combination of  usernames on various social media outlets
  • represented across multiple channels depending on the device you are using
  • tied to Internet of Things (IoT) objects that proxy your behavior
  • part of an ecosystem that contributes to the experience of the master identity

The number of aliases, relationships, devices, and channels create an exponential number of touch points in which behavior and sentiment can be captured,  at a very high velocity, variety, and volume. This finally, truly gives us sufficient data to predict and guide on next best action and brand sentiment. We can also discover anomalous (and possibly fraudulent) behavior, as well as influence decision-making.  In any business, we are constantly trying to make the best decisions by analyzing the information that is in front of us and then taking action.  In today’s digital world, every interaction is captured, every statement, every positive recommendation, and every single complaint.  These metrics can be analyzed in real-time to determine what is our Next Best Action might be.  Could it be to increase the price, similar to airlines realizing a customer is doing a last minute booking?  Could it be to decrease a price because the airline knows that seat may go unsold and they are about to lose a customer to a competitor?  Could it be to recommend another product to that person from which we know their friends had made a similar purchase? Could it be that this person’s behaviors are very different from their past and either this person is not really who they say they are and had social engineered themselves into hacking their account?  Could it be that this person is having their first child, and they are a first time parent, and we have specials for those expecting? Next Best Action Metrics and analytics are used to make decisions in real-time, on the wire, dynamically, at the right moment, and simply at the right time.

Identity Transformation is the science of predicting behavior. It’s more than authentication. We have evolved the metrics to consume location, social media activity, flight data, weather, clickstream information, sensor-data, machine data, and unstructured data to correctly rationalize the golden record. That record is the key to “who are you, is it really you, what are you going to do next and where should I take you next?”  The “Golden Record” is often called the unicorn of any business.  A Golden Record would consist of every piece of information you can possibly know about an identity.  Knowing the identity and identities of this single person, knowing what they like, what they dislike, how they behave, how they influence others, how they are influenced, how they spend, when they spend, what activities do they like, what activities don’t they like, how do they interact with brands in the same company, how do they interact with brands in other companies, and how they might respond to a certain offer or service.  Many businesses have lots of information about an identity , but never in one single golden location or in a single Golden Record.  It’s in silo’d databases, directories on-premise, on cloud, in logs, in spreadsheets, in emails, in contracts, documents, and PDFs.

Traditional Identity Management is still limited to relational databases, while modern security cloud services are using Hadoop and other Big Data technologies. In order to transform, we must merge on-premise, enterprise identity with a modern approach in the Cloud, with a Big Data platform as the Identity Warehouse. This platform  is the consumer of all those channels and behaviors, which it uses for building the Golden Record, with accompanying fraud prevention and behavioral analytics. It becomes the single Source of Truth for who a person is, how they interact with the Enterprise, and how the Enterprise can fulfill that person’s needs.

So what real life use cases need to be solved by Identity Transformation? 

1. Enable Social Network tracking for a holistic user profile

2. Simplify Business Processes by tracking identities consistently across all services and channels

3. Allow customers and partners to manage their own relationships with the Enterprise

4. Maintain privacy and security across all the services that make up the brand

5. Provide a single, reusable identity across business units and channels

6. Create a full understanding of user communities, which fosters direct dialogue and better relationships

7. Understand the identity and its needs in order to deliver high value products and services

To summarize, why do we embark on an Identity Transformation Journey? To influence the Next Best Action of our customers, and to determine our own Next Best Action, to meet that customer halfway through.

But before you can accomplish either of these, you need to gather the data, understand the data, and uncover what it is trying to tell you. This journey is beyond transformational; it is evolutionary. As security and identity continue to evolve, we must do more than follow. We must anticipate where they are going, and intercept them.

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Rhon Daguro leads the Identity Transformation and Governance Practice at Persistent Systems, graduated from Northern Illinois’s Computer Science Program, has been recognized in The Atlantic and in Forbes, a TEDx Speaker, a member of the Kellogg Innovation Network, a winner of the Chicago Innovation Awards, a member of the Illinois Technology Association, guest speaker for DePaul University’s Entrepreneur Program, and serves on the Rasmussen Technology Advisory Board.