Technology is our friend: Why identity management will be one key to success in digital
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November 14, 2013

Why identity management will be one key to success in digital

I have always been a big advocate of websites that find reasons for me to register and use them in a logged-in status. If amazon can achieve that - even by using a long term auto-login and at many times simply assuming that it's me - than virtually anyone can do that, too. When I am not logged in, amazon does everything possible to make me identify myself, and when I am logged in, they try to tell me everywhere that my experience is much better now.
This makes sense in so many ways: By identifying the individual user, a visit or a click is not only a click anymore, but becomes part of my very personal user behaviour profile which can be turned into service for me and profit for amazon. In a multi-screen world, with the mobile shift at its start (I wrote about this more than a year ago) and so much more to come, this even makes a lot more sense. ID-management will not only be a "nice to have feature" or "relevant only to those who seriously do CRM" (what I often hear when I pitch this stuff to clients), but it will be a crucial element in your ability to even deliver a somewhat satisfying digital experience in future.

If you ever wondered why Google is pushing its "g+ login" - it is not only because they want to push g+ as a whole, but because identity management will become one core ability many companies will need help with. Chrome/Google even want me to sign up on my browser - and suddenly, I will find my Google searches from yesterday's office day on my Android phone and my mobile searches there will appear as "past searches" in Chrome for iPad. In a multiscreen world, user identification over several devices is key to offering a compelling digital service.

Wolfram Alpha offers an interesting product: Personal Analytics for your Facebook account. Being aware that American Secret Services know anything anyway, I gave the application access to all of my Facebook data and it gave me some interesting insights in return. Among other things, it analyzed 351 wall posts that I made, when I made them and on which device they originated. I wouldn't have been able to estimate which device I use more at which time of the day, so the results were clearer than I thought:

You can clearly see how my PC/desktop (orange) becomes less relevant, at times irrelevant over the weekend. In the evening hours, after 8, 9 p.m., smartphone and tablet take over. Friday and Saturday evening, when I am likely to not be at home, the smartphone dominates, while Wednesday/Thursday evening and night clearly is tablet time. Interestingly enough, I use all three devices nearly equally much.
Considering "time spent", which due to work reasons should be at least 60% PC/desktop, you can see that the times where Facebook was always open in an extra tab seem to be over. I rather get off the PC to one of the touchscreen devices or log on later.
The overall view still shows that you can speak of an equal distribution, but with mobile growing and growing - and PC declining.

Imagine now this were not my Facebook stats, but on a site that is not able to identify me - because it does not have logins, has not implemented user recognition algorythms or listened to the lawyer when it came to cookies.
Would that business consider me as three users?
Would they simply guess?
Would they know that maybe some PC-e-commerce sales were triggered by browsing on a touchscreen device (touch makes 20% of global e-commerce traffic, but only 11% of transactions)?
If I watch a video on your site, shouldn't the offer on a different device know that?
If I check out a product on my iPad, shouldn't the PC-website know that?

Especially when we talk about an app-dominated world on different devices than PC/desktop, this becomes a really complicated task if you don't have a login and user management - be it your own or a login via Facebook or Google. This is something so crucial, I would always (maybe not with startups with very limited resources) recommend to build and maintain your own one. I am pretty sure I will be using more devices than three in future (at least a connected TV, a gaming console and something wearable) and that there will be even more devices that will connect to the web "as me" or "for me". If you are not able to manage this diversity of access and transform it into a seamless digital experience for me, your digital opportunities might narrow down to using third party infrastructure that may cost you - money, business options, or most likely both.