At TM Forum Live! (in Nice in May), Jonjie Sena, Neustar, will deliver a presentation about launching a successful digital platforms. He provides an introduction to the topic here.
Over the past year, there has been a lot of talk about “trust” in our fast-paced, ultra-connected world – digital trust, the economy of trust, trust in technology, trusted identity.
While each of these concerns originate from different perspectives, the undeniable commonality is that trust is playing an increasingly important role in driving our connected world. And as such the digital platforms being built to power our connected world must enable trusted connections between people, places and things for those connections to remain sustainable.
The focus on trust (or the lack of) derives from recent events, including revelations of data breaches affecting over a billion accounts, the largest ever distributed denial of service (DDoS) which was carried out by attacking webcams and DVRs, and unwanted robocall spoofing and caller fraud, which has become the leading consumer complaint in the US and several other countries. These issues raise concerns around who, or what, is initiating the communications and the data that’s being shared.
Consumers have become wary when it comes to sharing personal information — whether it’s online, via text, or on the phone. It’s come to the point where they no longer want to do something as simple as answering their phone if it’s a number they don’t recognize. And businesses are feeling the impact. Not being able to reach a customer the first time means having to make a follow-up call, a second delivery truck roll, or missed appointments. These aren’t just additional costs to the business; they also result in customer frustration.
And then there is the Internet of Things (IoT) and the explosion in the number of connected devices. At the IDC Directions Conference last year, it was estimated that there were 11 billion devices connected to the internet globally in 2016, with the number increasing to 30 billion by 2020. With so many different devices – existing devices with inadequate protective mechanisms, and new ones with proprietary approaches – there are serious concerns in addressing the exponential potential for future attacks which could slow innovation and progress that would benefit both consumers and the industry.
Regulators and standards bodies around the globe are quickly trying to put new rules in place to protect privacy and security across all these areas.
Service providers, carriers and enterprises that drive the internet, communications and IoT services are under immense pressure to ensure they include trust by design and adhere to the new standards and regulations as they prepare to deliver market-leading products and services. Trusted connections are needed throughout all stages of building digital ecosystems. Trust begins with authoritative identity — knowing as much as possible about who (or what) is on other side of the connection by deriving information from reliable and credible sources. The other ingredient is authenticated identity — ensuring that the other party is, in fact, who they (or it) claim to be.
First, there must be trusted connections within the partner ecosystem as they work together to build digital platforms. Secondly, there must be trusted connections between the many machines, devices and software the ecosystem has brought together to create the digital platform. Lastly, and most importantly, to truly drive value across the digital platform, trusted connections with customers must be enabled to boost positive experiences and engagement.
Trusted identity based on authoritative and authenticated data is at the heart of these connections. It’s the logical first step — understanding and validating who (or what) is initiating the connection. If the identity can’t be verified, then caution is needed. In other cases, the identity is unchanged, but the behavior is so different, one should also proceed carefully. People want to feel they can trust who’s on the other end of their communication. It’s going to be vital for machines to have the ability to validate the identity of other connected devices.
Enabling trusted connections
Enabling trusted connections across the platform requires scalable, reliable and secure methods of allocating, authenticating and controlling human and device identities throughout the lifecycle of each connected entity. With innovation moving at a lightning pace and the speed of doing business going just as fast in our connected world, it’s important this validation is provided in real time as people and machines make instant decisions on whether to engage or not.
Simply blocking all suspected ”bad” connections sounds like an obvious solution, but unfortunately it’s not the answer. The challenge is putting solutions in place to verify device identity or company/person identity to ensure authentic communications make it through. These solutions also need to include the right controls for people to manage the connections they want to receive, and remotely manage or shut down machines that may be affected by bad connections or malicious behavior.
Authenticating identity is critical across the digital ecosystem, enabling people, places, and things to interact, stay compliant with regulations and standards, and avoid potentially fraudulent situations. It will also empower us to feel secure in communicating with the companies we do business with. As a result, it will improve the customer experience and encourage more participation and engagement. All of this is vital in addressing the “trust” gap as new digital platforms are being built.