How human centrism is shaping a new, unobtrusive future for identity

The world has seen several disruptions over the last few years which have drastically altered the very power dynamics that influence how a workplace is constructed

Between the pandemic underscoring the importance of employee wellbeing for businesses, and remote models offering individuals better clarity on how their working practices impact their lives, mindsets towards the workplace have changed significantly.

These changes have been bunched under the banner of the so-called “great resignation,” in recent months. But according to Gartner, we’re at a “liminal moment for people and work” and what we’re currently witnessing in workplaces is more of a “great reflection”.

Simply put, the age of workplaces forged solely by commercial imperatives has come to an end. Shifting power dynamics has meant companies putting their needs above employees’ is no longer acceptable. And if any business wants to avoid losing its most valuable asset – people – it will need to become more human-centric.

As a result, we’ve seen leaders everywhere begin to redesign business operations with a focus on the collective human good. And this shift towards human-centrism is not merely being driven by a newfound sense of idealism, but a fundamental change in the macroeconomic arena.

And as the human-centric movement continues to spread into all facets of work life, we should expect security and privacy to be swept up by this trend next.

The new identity paradigm

It’s not news that many individuals today feel they’ve lost control over their digital identity – and in turn, their privacy. It has long fallen to governmental bodies and corporate entities to serve as “identity guardians” for the masses, as the technology to enable individual control over it didn’t exist historically.

But over time, this scattered stewardship has resulted in countless organisations owning attributes of individuals’ identity. And with these organisations largely able to determine what authentication practices they used, security measures ran the gamut from passwords and challenge questions to SMS and QR codes.

The identity-roulette the public has been forced to play has meant users are never quite sure which security measure – or combination of measures – they were going to encounter when digitally interacting with an organisation.

However, these methods of identification have never been in the user’s nor organisation’s benefit. It adds undesirable friction when individuals want to access services (such as a work application) which in turn fosters the incentives for them to circumnavigate it – often through shadow IT – thereby putting the entire organisation at risk.

Human-centrism aims to upend this model by constructing new identity verification practices focused on user experience. So, instead of having to remember countless, increasingly complicated passwords, businesses can shift to password-free options that rely on more digital-first technologies – such as biometric or possession factors.

A possession factor is usually determined by a device (such as a smartphone) which has been tied to its owner’s identity. Biometric factors, on the other hand, rely on unique individual characteristics, such as fingerprint and retinal scans, to authenticate users. These verification methods remove a great deal of daily friction, which explains why they’re growing in popularity, with 93% of organisations reporting they’re likely to adopt them.

However, there are even more human-centric measures that can enable businesses to forgo upfront authentication processes altogether. For instance, machine learning tools can allow organisations to identify users purely by their attributes with algorithms capable of adaptive identity authentication which take into consideration the device, location, usage patterns and more to grant access without the user even knowing it had happened.

We’re fast moving towards a future whereby individuals are authenticated without even knowing it. However, in the long term, to achieve the ‘identity utopia’ of human-centric authentication, users need to be the stewards of their own identities. And new innovations in digital wallets, credential management and identity proofing are examples of this goal slowly but surely coming to fruition.

With smartphones serving as the anchor to most of these solutions, users will soon be able to become their own identity providers – take back control of their privacy and solely determine what they want to share, when they want to share it and with whom.

The power of comfortable engagement

Whether it’s customers or employees, creating an identity experience that users enjoy will go a long way towards helping businesses retain them. Human-centric identity focuses on getting users connected to the right assets in ways that elicit positive feelings about their engagement with the organisation.

Organisations that figure out identity today have the chance to be tomorrow’s winners – but only if they find a way to balance ‘human’ imperatives with commercial objectives. And frictionless experiences offer businesses one way to perfectly marry those two priorities, and create a win-win scenario for all involved.

About the Author

Rob Otto is EMEA field CTO at Ping Identity. At Ping Identity, we believe in making digital experiences both secure and seamless for all users, without compromise. That’s digital freedom. We let enterprises combine our best-in-class identity solutions with third-party services they already use to remove passwords, prevent fraud, support Zero Trust, or anything in between. This can be accomplished through a simple drag-and-drop canvas. That’s why more than half of the Fortune 100 choose Ping Identity to protect digital interactions from their users while making experiences frictionless.

Featured image: ©Irina-Shi