Call it what you want, “identity,” “profile” or “persona.” The fact of the matter is in order to make use of “free” services like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc., we agree to share our personal information in exchange for the convenience and utility of such services.
But there is an interesting question, as the current “Scoogle” campaign by Microsoft to get users to switch from Google search to Microsoft Bing highlights. At issue is how much privacy we’re willing to give up. This is becoming a battleground for service differentiation, and it is a big deal going forward.
There is also the closely related question of how much control we should all have over who, what, where, when and how that information is meted out.
It is for these reasons that the release by Austin, TX-based identity management company UnboundID of its Privacy Suite commands attention. This new solution brings transparency, choice and control to the collection and ongoing management of personal data, while authorizing and governing the use of this data in real time.
As Andy Land, VP of marketing for UnboundID, told TMC, “This is about giving companies a way to differentiate themselves in the market using personal data management as a critical factor, along with providing users more control over what is clearly valuable not just to businesses but to them as well.”
The Privacy Suite, built on the UnboundID Identity Data Platform, allows service providers such as telecommunications, tech and financial services companies to effectively and securely collect, manage and share customer identity data while respecting customers' privacy wishes.
"As we look at business trends, Telecoms and Service Providers will need to start building consent management into their business practices," said Ovum Telecoms Technology Analyst Shagun Bali. "This will be crucial for Telcos as they move toward being trusted Identity Brokers."
Identity is becoming the coin of the realm
We all know that personal information is very valuable. The ability to collect and sell more and more granular information about our volition and habits is why the premiere social media companies carry such high market valuations, and why “big data” is looked upon as the next big way to better monetize what can be gleaned not just from one source but many. The polite term is “actionable insights.”
What we also know from watching the headlines is that even if we read the terms and conditions of popular sites, most consumers are basically ill-informed as to how our personal and private information is being used.
Giving up privacy for convenience, yet having peace of mind that we’re only providing service providers what we choose to give them is a delicate balance. It is the new frontier, as privacy concerns and who can extract the value of personal information becomes not just a civil liberties issue, but one regarding the fortunes and future of online service providers. Indeed, the observation by Ovum’s Bali, about telecom service providers in essence finally waking up to the high ground they could hold in ecommerce ecosystems by being Identity Brokers, is a very important perspective.
Where the Privacy Suite fits into all of this is in providing transparency to customers and giving them access to the personal data their service providers possess, and choice and control over their data. It means users can set preferences and determine the parameters of how and to what capacity their data is leveraged or shared.
As Land said in our interview, “Giving customers more transparency and control, should not be viewed by service providers as a threat but rather as an opportunity to improve the customer experience and create better trust and loyalty.”
UnboundID CEO Steve Shoaff added that, "For companies managing large amounts of customer identity data that want to leverage it and protect their customers' privacy, the Privacy Suite is a software solution that bridges identity commerce and customer respect…Because the privacy and data protection regulatory tide is growing, companies need to think ahead and equip themselves with the right solutions…Companies that act now will be better positioned in their markets and can avoid the risks and consequences of violating policies."
As UnboundID sees it, to monetize identity data and build new revenue models around this information, companies can use the Privacy Suite to collect and authorize the use of personal data to upsell and cross-sell product offerings, or market personalized services or products to improve the customer experience.
A comprehensive solution to identity management and control
Key features of the Privacy Suite include:
UnboundID also highlights the fact that as an integrated middleware solution, the Suite provides key integration touch points:
Land also emphasized that the design of Privacy Suite has been optimized for easy deployment and operation by service providers. It is a carrier-grade capability (high-performance, redundant, etc.) that sits atop virtualized and/or commodity hardware.
Plus, operational staff may use the platform's built-in monitoring tools or tap into standard management APIs for leveraging their tools of choice.
As the online world becomes more “personal”—in terms of the quality of the individual user experience, which is generating tons of data and marketers’ desire to improve their ROI’s by getting at and leveraging that data in real-time—the tug of war over how that data is controlled, by whom and for what reasons is going to intensify. Part of the battle is going to be between businesses who position themselves as giving us the convenience without the intrusion.
Ultimately, given enough transparency and control, part of it may also be about the end user being a partner of the service provider, so that we can share in the value we’re creating for others.
It is for the reasons just cited that Privacy Suite is something to pay attention to going forward. The Scroogle efforts by Microsoft are a harbinger of the future. Privacy Suite is giving service providers a great tool to reinvent or certainly reposition themselves.
Land said that UnboundID has been greatly encouraged by the positive reception it has received for the solution.
Having good tools is one thing. Using them appropriately is another. As the issues surrounding access to and control of personal data – including what will constitute consent and compliance – evolve, it is going to be fascinating to see which companies embrace giving all of us transparency and control, and which ones decide that the status quo is just fine based the millions of people who seem willing to give up something that is very valuable without asking much in return.
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